Manuel Bernal began his career in community development in 1989, as a management analyst for the city of Los Angeles Housing Department underwriting loans with HOME and CDBG funds. After four years with the city, he assumed a part-time assignment as a project development manager for the Central American Resource Center, representing and safeguarding its $1 million investment in a community center and housing project.
Manuel became the Senior underwriter in 1994, with the National Equity Fund, where he underwrote the investment of about $50 million in proceeds from the syndication of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in 17 Southwestern projects valued at more than $150 million.
In 1996, Manuel transitioned from a founding Board of Directors member to the first executive director for the East L.A. Community Corporation. At ELACC, Manuel developed, planned, implemented and managed day-to-day activities involving project development identification and feasibility, program planning and implementation, building and maintaining relationships, community organizing, solicitation of operational fundraising, negotiating contracts with lenders and contractors, and maintaining the office.
By 1999, Manuel was executive vice president for Housing and Economic Development at the Cesar Chavez Foundation, developing and implementing the goals of its Housing and Economic Development Fund. In addition to revenue and expense responsibility, duties included developing a strategic vision, structuring the corresponding programs, hiring and managing staff to run those programs, reviewing and adopting program guidelines and protocols, and evaluating staff and programs.
In 2011, Manuel became the director of Multi-family Housing for the City of Los Angeles. He is responsible for administering the lending, construction and regulatory compliance and portfolio management components of a $45 million per year affordable housing loan program.
He also presently serves on the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco's Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Over his community development career Manuel has served on the boards of the Enterprise Foundation Network Advisory Board, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, the County of Los Angeles Housing Commission and the Liberty Hill Foundation's Fund for a New Los Angeles Funding Board.
He earned an Advanced Bachelor's degree in economics from Occidental College and attended the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government's Winter 2000 Program for Senior Executives and Elected Officials. He was also a long-term substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.