Bernita Johnson-Gabriel joined The Community Builders (TCB) board of directors in 2023. She currently serves as director of strategic partnerships for the CAST US Fund for Cleveland Avenue.
Previously, Bernita served as executive vice president for neighborhood and strategic initiatives at World Business Chicago, leading the organization’s efforts to support economic growth and job creation for Chicago’s neighborhoods. Prior to that, she served as senior advisor for Neighborhood Development and Housing under Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp. While at the Office of the Mayor, she led several targeted economic development projects and neighborhood revitalization efforts to generate clear and impactful outcomes for communities on Chicago’s south and west sides. She also expanded the city’s development lens to include residential, transportation, infrastructure and other development data for a more holistic approach to neighborhood growth.
Prior to that, Bernita served as executive director of Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), a neighborhood development organization serving Chicago’s south lakefront communities of North Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas and Grand Boulevard. During her 12 years with QCDC, she directed the creation of a 10-year quality of life plan adopted by community residents, the Fourth Ward Alderman and the Mayor’s Office. She built and maintained a coalition of approximately 40 organizations and businesses to implement quality of life projects and programs. She also led several strategic neighborhood development programs and efforts, including the Shops and Lofts Neighborhood Walmart and the Ellis Park Arts and Recreation Center, which opened in 2016.
Bernita began her career with Liberty Mutual Group as a commercial lines underwriter. She later worked as a human resource manager and finished her career with Liberty Mutual as an insurance advisor. It was in this capacity that she developed an interest in community development and subsequently became a member of the Neighborhood Housing Services-Auburn Gresham (NHS) board of directors.
Bernita holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Hampton University and is graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, which helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity. She serves on the board of directors for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC-Chicago), the South East Chicago Commission and Allies for Community Business.