Bernadette Ferrara was born and raised in the Van Nest section of the Bronx, which her family—having witnessed the construction of St. Dominic’s Church beginning in 1925—has called “home” for over 90 years.
Since age three, Bernadette has been drawing, winning honorable mentions for her paintings as far back as elementary school. Graduating from St. Dominic’s Grammar School and St. Helena's Business High School, she continued her love of art by attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, receiving her Associate of Arts. From 1976 to 1979, she was a chartist and mechanical artist for the McCall Pattern Company. After working as the Art Director at Parklane Hosiery, she continued her career as a Freelance Graphic Designer in Manhattan and at her home studio. She has also served as an instructor at Lehman College and CUNY in the Heights, teaching Photoshop.
In 2008, while working full-time, Bernadette was appointed to serve on Community Board 11 as a Council Member Joel Rivera nominee. In 2010, she helped form the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance (VNNA), which was created to fill the void of civic involvement in the Van Nest area. VNNA secured 1.3 million dollars from elected officials to renovate Van Nest Park (also known as “Five Corners” Park), renamed the park for local fallen 9/11 hero James A. Romito, and worked with the City Department of Transportation to create a pedestrian space near the park. Each year, VNNA participates in and supports the Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the Van Nest War Memorial. VNNA also helped secure Van Nest a bank, petitioned to keep the Van Nest Post Office open, acquired school zone/speed reduction signs for the former St. Dominic’s School, had catch basins cleaned, sealed vacant properties, removed graffiti and more.
As a life-long animal advocate, Bernadette is committed to making a difference in the lives of animals and their owners by working to get the Bronx its own, very much needed animal shelter. She is a certified TNR (trap-neuter-release) animal rescuer and founded “Animals Saved by God's Grace” on Petfinder, which provides volunteer animal rescue/adoption services.
In 2017, Bernadette was selected by the Bronx Times-Reporter for their 25 Influential Women Award, and she was honored by the Bronx Chamber of Congress at its annual Italian Heritage Luncheon.