Bernita Johnson-Gabriel joined World Business Chicago in February 2018 as Executive Vice President for Neighborhoods and Strategic Initiatives, responsible for leading the organization’s efforts to support economic growth and job creation for Chicago’s neighborhoods. She brings nearly 15 years of development experience to WBC, most recently as senior advisor for neighborhood development and housing for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
While serving with the Office of the Mayor, Johnson-Gabriel led several targeted economic development projects and neighborhood revitalization efforts to generate clear and impactful outcomes for communities on Chicago’s south and west sides. She also expanded the city’s development lens to include residential, transportation, infrastructure and other development data for a more holistic approach to neighborhood growth.
Previously, Johnson-Gabriel served as executive director of the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), a neighborhood development organization serving Chicago’s south lakefront communities of North Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas and Grand Boulevard. During her 12 years with QCDC, Johnson-Gabriel directed the creation of a 10-year Quality of Life plan adopted by community residents, the Fourth Ward Alderman and the Mayor’s Office. She built and maintained a coalition of approximately 40 organizations and businesses to implement quality of life projects and programs. She also led several strategic neighborhood development programs and efforts, including the Shops and Lofts Neighborhood Walmart and the Ellis Park Arts and Recreation Center, opened in 2016.
Originally from Bethel, North Carolina, Johnson-Gabriel holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Hampton University and is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, which helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity. She also serves on the board of directors for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC-Chicago).