The August 20, 2020 Luncheon Speaker will be Councilman Benny Zhang


Benny Zhang

Benming "Benny" Zhang was elected to the Williamsburg City Council on May 3, 2016. He was sworn-in on July 1, 2016.  Benny has been an active member of the Williamsburg community since entering the College as a Sharpe Community Scholar in the fall of 2012. He is a proud resident and homeowner on Burns Lane. He has been involved in various initiatives to better the lives for all residents of Williamsburg.

In 2013, Mayor Clyde Haulman appointed Benny to the Public Housing Advisory Committee (PHAC) for a four year term. Benny’s role with the PHAC requires him to advise the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Public Housing Commissioners on relevant HUD and Virginia Housing Development Authority guidelines. As a citizen advocate, he is responsible for addressing various public housing resident issues and grievances. Benny is currently a member of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, and sits on the Government Affairs Committee. Benny is also a member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Revolutionary Society, a group dedicated to attracting young professionals to become more involved with the historical Jamestown area and its wellbeing.

His passion for community service began in high school. As a student at Choate Rosemary Hall, Benny founded a program that formed relationships with schools in Cayambe, Ecuador. The program sent high school students to partner with the community to help renovate their schools. Benny entered William & Mary as a Sharpe Community Scholar, focusing on opportunity gaps in United States education. During his freshman year, Benny worked with a fellow Sharpe scholar to start a tutoring program at the local juvenile detention center, now known as Merrimac Mentors, an initiative that later turned into a full-fledged group mentoring program that serves the whole center. Benny is also involved with the Asian American Students Initiative.

As a self-designed Asian-American Studies major, he wrote his senior honors thesis on Arthur Matsu, the first Asian-American to graduate from the College. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Marshall-Wythe School of Law (William & Mary Law School) in May 2020 and is anticipated to start as an Associate with Kaufman & Canoles in the fall.

Benny is the oldest son to Dr. Han Zhang and Ms. Jinlan Liu. He and his wife, Kelsey, reside in the Burns Lane neighborhood. Benny worships at Bruton Parish Church, where he was baptized and confirmed. 

Benny previously served on the following boards and commissions:

  • 2019 Commemoration First Representative Legislative Assembly Committee (2016-2019)
  • Virginia Municipal League Legislative Committee (2017-2018; Vice Chair, 2019)
  • Virginia Municipal League Annual Conference Planning Committee (2017)
  • Governor-elect Ralph Northam's Transition Policy Council on Local Government (2017)
  • Participant, Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars; first place for most fundraising ($20,000) & tied second place for best dance routine
  • Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Consortium (Council Liaison) (2016-2018)
  • Public Housing Advisory Committee (2012-2019



The July 25th Luncheon Speaker was Amanda Batten - Delegate 96th District of Virginia


Amanda Batten

Amanda spoke to the July CARMA Members about the challenges of representing the district in the Virginia House of delegates that were predestined to pass a large number of liberal agenda bills, and to ignore any legislative attempts from the GOP. While successful witha few items, it was a difficult session with the Dems being out of control with a their governor waiting to sign the various bills affecting gun control and ownership, to voting laws.

An active member of the community, Amanda Batten currently works as legislative aide to Delegate Brenda Pogge, representative of District 96 in the Virginia House of Delegates. She was previously employed as a fundraising manager for the Medical Society of Virginia and as legislative aide to Virginia Senator Thomas K. Norment, Jr. Before moving to Williamsburg and working in politics, Amanda homeschooled her son and consulted for a marketing firm.

Amanda resides in Toano with her husband, Rick, and son, Troy. She is currently a board member of the Virginia Symphony Society, and she previously served on the board of the Thomas Nelson Community College Educational Foundation and the Providence Classical School Board. A graduate of Ashford University, Amanda has also completed the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Political Leaders Program and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance’s LEAD Historic Triangle program.

For over ten years, Amanda has volunteered for Republican candidates and principles in James City County and York County. She completed three terms as chairman of the James City County Republican Committee, and she currently serves as First Vice President of the Jamestown Heritage Republican Women’s Club. She is also the Eastern Vice Chairwoman of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.

Republican Amanda Batten took leadership of the 96th District House of Delegates seat after a close vote in a longtime stronghold of the party. She succeeds Republican Brenda Pogge, who held the position for 11 years and retired.