Bernadette Onyenaka is a National Urban Fellow with the California Wellness Foundation, where she works on projects related to building knowledge management, innovation and strategic planning capacity. A newcomer to philanthropy, Bernadette brings years of experience in managing grants with small, community-based groups for the Maryland Department of Health as well as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Her expertise spans public health issues like tobacco use and childhood obesity, and is grounded in understanding systemic and structural causes of health and social inequity.
Prior to joining Cal Wellness, Bernadette served as the Racial Equity Manager for the National League of Cities’ Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) initiative. There she led REAL’s development of racial equity training series, which increased the capacity, competence, and readiness of municipal leaders and personnel to recognize and dismantle structural racism through policy, practice, procedural, and cultural change. She guided and supported the efforts of cities like Rochester, NY, and Wichita, KS, to catalyze plans that address racial inequity through changes to internal practices, community engagement, and initiatives designed to address disparate impact or create pathways to equitable outcomes.
Her expertise is enriched and advanced through impassioned interests in social determinants of health, anti-oppression/liberation ideology, intersectionality, adult learning curriculum development, training facilitation, program development and management.
Originally from Camden, NJ, Bernadette earned both her Bachelor’s degree in Health Behavior Management and Master’s degree in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware. She is a class of 2020 National Urban Fellow, through which she is completing a Master’s in Policy Management at Georgetown University.