Council Member M. Belén Bernal

Council Experience


Maria Belén Bernal was sworn in as a City Council Member on April 14, 2015, to serve her first four-year term. In April 2018, Councilwoman Bernal was selected to serve as Mayor for a 1-year term. Prior to serving on City Council she was the South Gate City Treasurer for six years. Councilwoman Bernal's willingness to serve our community is instilled by her parents’ exemplary values of service to others, justice, family, and faith.

At a Special City Council meeting held on December 16, 2014, the City Council adopted a Resolution providing for the appointment of three candidates to the office of the City Council, including Maria Belén Bernal. With three City Council seats open for the March 3, 2015 General Municipal Election and three qualified candidates filing nomination papers for those same offices, the City Council voted to cancel the election.

Professional Experience


Councilwoman Bernal started her career as a representative for Assemblyman Marco A. Firebaugh, who represented South Gate in the state legislature. As she learned more about Southeast Los Angeles communities, her commitment and enthusiasm to be of service to others grew.

Councilwoman Bernal has 15 years of experience in nonprofit program and operations. She has worked with various organizations including; Community Lawyers, Inc., Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Oldtimers Foundation, St. Francis Medical and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. She has enjoyed working with organizations that serve our area and promote access to social services and programs that enhance the quality of life of youth, families and individuals. Councilwoman Bernal also consulted with Community Lawyers, Inc. to help increase the efficiency of their program operations, and with McCormack Baron Salazar, a developer and manager of quality and affordable housing who has helped to revitalize cities throughout the country; to manage a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant project.  

Currently Councilwoman Bernal serves as a Director of Operations for EXP, a nonprofit organization that offers youth exposure to new career opportunities that help build the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed in school, career and life.

Education & Volunteer Work

Councilwoman Bernal is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and California State University Long Beach. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Chicano Studies, as well as a Master of Business Administration.

Committees & Boards Served


Founding Member, City of South Gate Finance Budget Sub-committee
Board Member, Los Angeles County Sanitation District
Board Member, Independent Cities Association Past
Board Member, Hub Cities Joint Powers Authority Advisory
Board Member and Past Board Member, Community Lawyers, Inc.
Past Board Member and Mentor, Riordan Programs at UCLA
Intern, Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, AFL-CIO
Youth Catechist Member, St. Emydius Church 


Committees & Boards Served

Councilwoman Bernal has lived in South Gate for over 30 years. She attended Stanford and Montara Avenue Elementary schools, South Gate Middle and South Gate High School, and resides with her husband Juan and their two lovely children.