“I still remember the many times my mother struggled to keep the lights on.

Growing up in Arkansas, I was aware of how often she had to figure out how to cut corners — putting expenses on her credit card, or buying fewer groceries in a month just to pay the bills. Those were regular occurrences that she tried to shield us from so we didn’t have to worry. But you know when your parents are struggling.

I thought about these experiences years later when I was in law school. I spent one summer working in a legal aid office in Philadelphia, helping clients whose utility service was being shut off — usually due to issues relating to poverty, or to energy inefficient housing.

I was working mostly with people who reminded me of my own folks: they were Black and working class, and were forced to find workarounds to survive in a system that really is set up for them to fail. I knew then that I wanted to get to the root of these problems, and these are the types of issues I have the opportunity to work on at NCLC.

I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid, because I know what it’s like to not have any power — and I wanted to make things better for people like the folks I grew up with. Now, I’m working for an organization that gets calls asking for input from the White House and United States Senate.

I’d say that the transition to NCLC is going pretty nicely so far, and I’m excited to see my childhood dreams become a reality.”

Read Berneta’s Bio