In 2015, Melissa and Candice met charged with a passion to create a community focused on empowering girls and women to pursue education and careers in STEM.
After years of successful programs and events across multiple organizations and state boundaries, it was clear that despite all their effort and that of others over the course of 30 years, things weren't really changing.
The creation of this exclusive space for women to connect was equally important and necessary, but it was just the first step. The initiatives that were fueled by their passion were not enough to truly solve the problem because no one was moving to the second step of bringing everyone back together to create a solution. It was clear that the level of action did not match the level of conversation around inclusion.
They wanted to be the catalyst for change, not just participate in conversations about the need for change. True change demands the creation of an inclusive community that supports and encourages diversity of thought, but such a community and programs to help it thrive doesn't exist. Being true believers that if you want something and it doesn't exist then you should go create it yourself, they began this new journey.
And so, Diversify Thinking was born.
Candice Benson is an internationally recognized Management Consultant and the CEO of Benson Consulting Inc. For over 15 years, she has been instrumental in successfully leading companies at all levels to operational excellence, leading to great profits and time-savings. She has led highly complex workflow, process, and back-end optimization projects for Fortune 50 companies, including several major M&A transactions, and her true passion is bringing this expertise to companies of all sizes, as she knows the benefit that a focus on operational excellence can bring.
Her clients have taken her across the United States and to London, Malaysia, Sydney and Hong Kong to oversee proper implementation of their improvement efforts. Candice has also been seen in national publications such as Smart Money Magazine and The New York Times.
Candice, a true Change Agent, is an experienced PMO Director, Portfolio Manager, Program Manager, and Project Manager. She has been certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) from the Project Management Institute and is a Six Sigma/Lean certified leader, mentor, and Project Management coach.
Candice sits on the Board of the NH Tech Alliance. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree, with a double major, from Rutgers University. A married mother of three daughters, Candice has lived on both coasts and in London, England. She now makes her home in Bedford, New Hampshire.
Melissa Jurkoic is currently the Director of Operations/Head of Success at addapptation where she and her team accelerate customers’ strategic objectives using the addapptation platform. For over 20 years as a technologist, she has been connecting with both technical and business audiences to lead strategic initiatives to successful outcomes. She holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of New Hampshire, an executive certification in Management and Leadership from MIT and a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC4) certification. Driven by her passion to have a positive impact on the decline of women in STEM education and careers, she has volunteered for the last decade with organizations around the world including ChickTech, Everwise, WITI, NH Tech Alliance, Microsoft DigiGirlz, wiseHer and AnitaB.org. She continues to pursue opportunities every day to advocate, educate and encourage women and girls to pursue careers in technology. Her passion for diversity and inclusion led her to co-found Diversify Thinking, an initiative focused on moving inclusion from conversation to action.
Along with her team, Melissa organizes mentoring programs and creates opportunities for collaboration among diverse thinkers through their Rise & Diversify Breakfast Series. Melissa also believes in the power of story telling and connection through her writing and launched her blog at in January 2019. She has always lived in the Northeast and now makes her home in Newmarket, New Hampshire with her family.