Her love of music began when she was 3 years old.
"I sat at my grandmother's piano and just played and played it," said Benedetti. "I wasn't able to take lessons until my brother-in-law, Herm Benedetti, gifted me with six months of music lessons."
The mother of three, Benedetti has been married to Dan Benedetti, former CEO and current chair of Clover-Stornetta, for nearly 40 years.
"We met at Santa Rosa Junior College," she said. "We have three wonderful children, Niessia, Marcus and Joannie, of whom I am proud, and seven beautiful grandchildren, five boys and two girls, ranging in age from 5 months to 8 years."
When the couple's youngest child entered kindergarten, Benedetti realized she had an opportunity to return to school and follow her passion for music.
"It took me eight years to finish," she said, because she was also juggling the Clover business, traveling and raising her children. She obtained her music degree in 1993.
"I couldn't even read music when I started," said Benedetti.
Her studies led to other opportunities, such as volunteering with the Santa Rosa Symphony as a music student, then becoming the narrator for some of their musical education projects.
Benedetti later joined the board of directors of the Santa Rosa Symphony and served as its president from 2004 to 2006.
"During that time, the symphony formed a partnership with Sonoma State University to raise funds to build a state-of-the-art concert hall," said Benedetti. "The Santa Rosa Symphony will be the &‘orchestra in residence when the building is completed. I was asked to join the &‘Finale' campaign as one of the Petaluma people to help raise the final funding to complete the Green Center."
Benedetti was instrumental in engaging Petalumans in the project. She is to be honored for her efforts, along with another distinguished alumnus, Charles Bonner, and two honorary doctorate winners, John and Jennifer Webley.
As the building project nears completion, Benedetti says the Finale committee has "morphed into an advisory committee for the Green Center."
Benedetti describes herself as pensive, adding, "Music is such an important part of the human experience. I can't imagine life without it."
The most challenging thing she's encountered so far in what she calls "a blessed life with family and friends" is returning as an adult to the world of higher education. She cites her family as her greatest accomplishment, saying, "I am most proud of my children and who they've grown up to be. I'm delighted that they married wonderful people, too."
She continues to challenge herself by "trying to improve all the things that I do."
What's the craziest thing she's ever done? "I'm about to go on a rock-climbing trip with my family and grandkids, on Mount Shasta," she said. "I've got a whole list of things to pack and bring, and I'll be in the climbing category with the 4 and 5-year-olds."
Is there anything about Benedetti that might surprise folks? "I tell jokes," she said.
What delights her more than accolades or awards is the opportunity to share her love and knowledge of music with her family. Just as Benedetti learned about the "magic language of music" at her grandmother's knee, she is giving her oldest grandson piano lessons beginning this fall.