Bertha Lewis, founder and president of The Black Institute served as keynote speaker at the Bay Area Social Equity Caucus's 2012 State of the Region Conference. The Black Institute is a New York-based advocacy organization whose mission is to shape intellectual discourse and dialogue, and impact public policy uniquely from a Black perspective. Ms. Lewis is a lifelong community activist and organizer whose work includes 20 years as an ACORN organizer, which culminated with her appointment as CEO and chief organizer in October 2008. During her tenure at ACORN, Ms. Lewis led a restructuring of the organization and helped guide it through the attacks that sought to undermine ACORN’s mission of empowering low- and moderate-income families.

Ms. Lewis has been recognized by several prominent organizations for her leadership work. She received the 2004 Citizen Activist Award from the Gleitsman Foundation for her work in public education reform and the 2005 Leon Bogues award for community and political activism from the New York State Association of Black and Latino Legislators. In 2007, Ms. Lewis was named by Crain’s magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York.

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