Belén Bernal is a nonprofit and public service professional who has worked with organizations throughout the Southeast Los Angeles region. She proudly represented and served the residents of South Gate, California; as City Treasurer, Mayor and Councilwoman from 2009 to 2020.
During her career, Belén has focused her attention to serve with organizations that help address social issues including access to education, social services and affordable housing.
Belén was born Maria Belén Bernal in Los Angeles, California. Her mother Carmen, was a seamstress until her longtime employer moved operations overseas, when she ventured to become a small business owner. Her father, Ignacio, was a United Steelworker who worked on an assembly line for over 20 years.
Together, they worked diligently to provide for their three daughters in a humble and loving household that began in a small apartment within the South Central unincorporated area of Los Angeles. In the late 1980's her parents achieved a large milestone of the "American Dream", became permanent residents and moved to South Gate, CA for their first homeownership opportunity.
Belén has always expressed pride in her parent's immigration story and credits their exemplary values of integrity, strong work ethic and service to others, as her reasons for choosing social service oriented positions. She specifically points to the annual Christmas trips to Mexico her parents planned that inspired her to serve others. Through these trips and financial sacrifices, she saw how her parents filled suitcases with basic items, not limited to toothpaste, socks, writing pads, pencils, pens and most importantly lots of Love; as attempts to contribute to their hometown in Jalisco, Mexico.
Raised with a strong emphasis on education, Belén and her sisters, Adriana and Matilde, pursued higher education opportunities after graduating from South Gate High School.
Belén, following in her sister's footsteps attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated in 2003 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Chicano Studies. After working in government and nonprofit sectors, she went on to study business administration at California State University, Long Beach. Belén obtained her Master in Business Administration degree in 2012.
During her educational years, Belén promoted cultural awareness, diversity and community service via her involvement in Associated Student Government and service organizations on campus. She also participated in study abroad programs in Madrid, Spain and Queretaro, Mexico. Her time as an intern at the Civil, Human and Women's Rights Department of the AFL-CIO during her participation in the University of California in Washington D.C. (UCDC) program, promoted the importance of civic engagement and becoming involved in her community.