Mayor Belén Bernal was born in Los Angeles, California and came to South Gate at the age 5. She is the youngest of three daughters and is a representation of her parents' exemplary values of integrity, a strong work ethic and service to others.
Belén grew up in a humble and loving household with parents who immigrated to this country in the early 1970's from Jalisco, Mexico. Her father was a United Steelworker for over 20 years and her mother a Seamstress for many years. They continue to enjoy living in South Gate after choosing South Gate as their community over 30 years ago.
Belén is a product of our community. She attended Stanford and Montara Avenue Elementary schools, South Gate Middle School and graduated from South Gate High School in 1999. After high school, Belén pursued Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she participated in Associated Student Government and interned with the Office of Relations with Schools.
During her undergraduate years, Belén promoted cultural awareness, diversity, community service and early academic outreach to current and incoming high school students. She also participated in study abroad programs in Madrid, Spain and Querétaro, Mexico. When she participated in the University of California, Washington D.C. program (UCDC), Mayor Bernal interned with the Civil, Human and Women's Rights Department of the AFL-CIO and began to think about the impact elected officials have and how they help shape the quality of life in their communities.
After working in the government and nonprofit sectors for over seven years, Mayor Bernal decided to strengthen her financial acumen and pursue a Master of Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach. Her interest to serve the community has led her to maintain director roles with organizations that serve youth, families and senior citizens outside of her capacity as an elected official.
Currently, Belén serves as Mayor of our City and together with her husband are proud residents of South Gate. They are happy to raise their two children here and enjoy spending time with their parents who also live in South Gate and neighboring Lynwood. Mayor Bernal continues to credit her desire to serve our community to her parents’ exemplary values.
During her ten years in office, Belén has worked closely with City and Finance staff to maintain a broad understanding of the financial management principles upheld by the City and to ensure that fiscally sound and responsible guidance are part of all decisions.
In addition to serving on the City Council, Belén represents the South Gate community on the following committees and outside agencies:
Additional Extracurricular Activities:
Mayor Bernal started her professional experience as an intern with the Office of Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez where she assisted constituents with federal matters including Social Security, Immigration and Veteran Affairs.
Armed with her academic and professional skills, and her renewed desire to serve her local community, Belén joined the South Gate District Office of Assembly Member Marco A. Firebaugh staff. In this capacity, Belén worked closely with local community groups and schools that focused on higher education, civic engagement, and health and human services issues.
During this time, she planned important District events such as the "AB540 Training and Resource Fair" for students and university personnel, as well as the "Southeast Student Film Festival" with local high schools.
As Mayor Bernal learned more about Southeast Los Angeles communities, her commitment and enthusiasm to be of service to her own community grew. Mayor Bernal has over 15 years of experience working with local community members and overseeing nonprofit programs and operations. She has been employed with organizations that include Community Lawyers, Inc., Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, St. Francis Medical and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.
Mayor Bernal has enjoyed working with organizations that serve our local youth, families and senior citizens by promoting access to social services and programs that enhance their quality of life .
Most recently, Belén served as Director of Operations at EXP, a nonprofit organization that prepares youth to explore various career paths as they think about their school, career and life options.