President of The Black Institute & Former CEO of ACORN
Bertha Lewis is the Founder and President of The Black Institute (TBI), an action “think-tank” non-profit organization. Lewis founded TBI in 2010 to address persistent issues faced by people of color, both within the United States and throughout the Diaspora. Lewis has been an influential leader within the non-profit and political sector for over 20 years. She is the former CEO and Chief Organizer of ACORN, which was a large and powerful national organization that mobilized the urban poor at the grassroots and fought for their needs.
In 2014, Bertha Lewis was named in City & State’s annual list of the top 100 most influential & powerful political leaders in New York City and #43 in The New York Observer’s “Political Power 80” list. She was featured in Essence Magazine’s 2011 list of 28 Most Influential Black Women and was named by Crain’s New York magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York, she was named as one of the “Influentials” in politics by New York Magazine.
For her effective community leadership, Bertha Lewis received the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators’ Leon Bogues Award and the Citizen Activist Award from the Gleitsman Foundation for her work in public education reform. She has been honored by major advocacy organizations representing the Caribbean, Russian, and Bangladeshi communities for her work with immigrants and minorities. Ms. Lewis has been a guest on national radio and TV including the Colbert show, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network show and MSNBC..
Leading the Black Institute, Bertha Lewis continues to battle economic inequality and discrimination against immigrants. She fights for environmental justice and quality schools in America’s cities. In the fight for equality and justice in America, Bertha Lewis stands out as a strong, effective and outspoken leader.
Bertha has lead the fight for citizenship and immigrant rights by advocating at the city, state and federal levels for Caribbean and black immigrants. She’s been an integral part of the low wage workers campaign, guaranteeing higher pay and sick days, as well as working with developers to create a landmark community benefits agreement to secure affordable housing, living wages, local hiring and training programs for the community.
Bertha’s brought together a dynamic interfaith coalition of clergy that engages in social justice issues that impact their congregants and community at large. She’s assisted in mobilizing and organizing NYCHA residents to build community pressure in opposition to the nearby Marine Transfer Station as TBI continues to pioneer coalitions along other diverse community groups and conduct original research and polling, through community outreach and continued grassroots organizing.