Bertha Lewis is the Founder and President of The Black Institute (TBI), an action “think-tank” non-profit organization. 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 & 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 was also named one of the “Influentials” in politics by New York Magazine.
For her effective community leadership, Bertha Lewis received the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislators’ Leon Bogues Award; and for her work in public education reform she received the Citizen Activist Award from the Gleitsman Foundation. 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.
Kira Shepherd is the Executive Director at The Black Institute. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Kira served as the Director of Campaigns and Organizing for TBI. In this role, she led the organization’s immigrant rights, low wage worker and economic justice work. Before coming to TBI, Kira was a Campaign Manager at ColorOfChange.org, where she worked on the organization’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) national campaign. Kira’s work with the ALEC campaign exposed ALEC’s involvement in the passing of discriminatory voter ID laws and led to over 50 corporate funders ending their financial support of ALEC. Kira also worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Pubic Policy Center where she managed a city-wide youth advocacy project that was instituted in every public high school in Philadelphia. During this time she co-founded the Anti-Displacement Solidarity Committee (ADSC), a volunteer organization built by women of color who worked to combat government-forced displacement via eminent domain abuse, as well as steep rises in property taxes. Kira has also worked for Families for Freedom, a human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation, and Make the Road New York, the largest member-led economic justice group in New York. Kira graduated from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark with a Juris Doctorate degree.
Carolina Minier is The Black Institute’s Operations Manager and Executive Assistant to the President. She has a background in the entertainment. Here, she 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.
She changed careers in 2007 after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College. Carolina has worked with youth and families at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and as a Medicaid Coordinator at the Kennedy Child Study Center.
Dmitri Daniel Glinski
Dmitri Glinski is the Director of Intercommunal Affairs at The Black Institute. Dmitri is a nonprofit management professional and community organizer with a Harvard University Master's degree in general management and a Ph.D. equivalent in History/ International Affairs from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences. In the early 1990s, he edited an independent union bulletin in Russia, founded a youth organization that worked on ethnic minority rights, and was a member of the national board of Democratic Russia Movement. In the US, he was a consultant to the Librarian of the US Congress and to the Congressional Research Service, a faculty member at Columbia University, and a staff member of American Jewish organizations. He authored and co-authored publications in Russian and American media (including The Los Angeles Times and The Jewish Week), and co-authored a book with Peter Reddaway published by the U.S. Institute of Peace Press in Washington, DC. He is co-founder and President of Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx (RCCMB), a volunteer-only organization that advocates for immigrants from former Soviet Union countries, and a co-founder of the national organization, American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights.
Salomé Jean - Director of Operations & Human Resources