Bertha Lewis - Founder and President
Bertha Lewis is the Founder and President of The Black Institute (TBI), an action “think-tank” non-profit organization. Ms. Lewis founded TBI in 2010 to address persistent issues faced by people of color, both within the United States and throughout the Diaspora. Ms. Lewis has been an influential leader within the non-profit and political sector for over 20 years. She is the former CEO and Chief Organizer of ACORN, a national organization that mobilized the urban poor at the grassroots and fought for their needs.
At TBI, Bertha has led the fight for citizenship and immigrant rights by advocating at the city, state and federal levels for Caribbean and other black immigrants. She has been an integral part of the low wage workers campaign - advocating for higher pay and sick days for New Yorkers. In addition, she has worked with developers to create a landmark community benefits agreement to secure affordable housing, living wages, local hiring and training programs for residents in Brooklyn.
In 2014, Bertha Lewis was named in City & State’s annual list of the top 100 most influential and powerful political leaders in New York City and #43 in The New York Observer’s “Political Power 80” list. She was featured in Essence Magazine’s 2011 list of 28 Most Influential Black Women and was named by Crain’s New York magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of New York. She has also appeared as a guest on national radio and television programs including the Colbert show, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network show and MSNBC.
Salomé Jean - Director of Operations & Human Resources
Carolina Minier - Operations Manager/Executive Assistant
Carolina Minier is The Black Institute’s Operations Manager and Executive Assistant to the President. With a background in entertainment, she has previously served as the Senior Director of the Film & Video Department at Ruff Ryders/Interscope Records, where she worked with artists such as Eve and DMX, and media outlets such as MTV and BET. For over ten years, she was the Executive Assistant to the CEO of The Britto Agency, a leading brand architecture and Public Relations firm.
Carolina changed careers in 2007 after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College. Since then she has worked with youth and families at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and as a Medicaid Coordinator at the Kennedy Child Study Center before joining the team at The Black Institute.
Krista Carter - Community Organizer
Monica Grant - Community Organizer
Martin Lockman - Research/Policy Associate
At The Black Institute, Martin works with Michael Thomas on issues related to minority and women-owned businesses, or M/WBEs. These small businesses are uniquely vulnerable to credit discrimination, blackballing, and market exclusion. Guaranteeing equal treatment for these businesses is essential to creating jobs and building wealth in some of America’s most impoverished communities.
Sami Disu - Communications Manager
As Communications Officer for The Black Institute Sami Disu is responsible for developing communications strategies for TBI’s campaigns. Disu manages knowledge dissemination, media relations and directs the organization’s messaging to external audiences. Prior to joining TBI, Sami served as a news writer and social media director for SaharaReporters Media Group, where he reported on international news and oversaw the organization’s digital media operations.
Disu is an entrepreneur at heart, having spent 4 years as a small business co-owner of a garden design and installation company serving the NYC metro area. A native of Ghana Sami has, travelled across the Middle East and Asia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Warren Wilson College and a graduate degree in Public Policy Analysis from Western Carolina University.