Bertha Lewis

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Bertha Lewis
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Organizer of ACORN

Bertha Lewis was the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Organizer of ACORN, which was a nonprofit social justice organization with headquarters in New York City, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. until it disbanded in 2010. Lewis came to this position through her sixteen years of work with ACORN, during which NY ACORN grew in membership from 10,000 to over 180,000 members.[1] She was appointed to this position in May 2008 when Wade Rathke came under fire.

Prior to her elevation to the top national leadership role with ACORN, Lewis was the Executive Director of ACORN’s New York affiliate and is a founding co-chair of the New York Working Families Party.

Today, Lewis is the President and Founder of The Black Institute, which she founded in 2010.[2]


A native of Philadelphia, Lewis has a theater and housing activist background, including work with the Banana Kelly Community Organization and ACORN Housing Corporation’s NYC Loan Counseling Program, where she served as the Director. In that capacity, she helped to negotiate landmark agreements with major banks under the Community Reinvestment Act. The mortgage and budget counseling program helped put hundreds of low-income New Yorkers into their first homes. In 1995, she joined New York ACORN as the Brooklyn ACORN Head Organizer.

Lewis was one of 10 national recipients of the 2004 Citizen Activist Award of the Gleitsman Foundation for her work in public education reform. Lewis received the 2005 New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. Leon Bogues award for community and political activism. In addition, Lewis was named by Crain’s magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York 2007, and one of the “ Influentials” in politics by New York magazine 2006.[3]

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