Get To Know Connect’s Strategic Inclusion Director
Since the moment I started working with the entrepreneurship community, I knew this was more than a passion – it was my calling. These past ten years in San Diego have only confirmed those feelings.
I received my bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in leadership from the University of San Diego (USD). It was also where I would begin my professional journey as the first Entrepreneurship Manager for the USD School of Business. I worked closely with a team of movers and shakers to take a nascent program and turn it into one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the nation. I have had the privilege of working with over 300 entrepreneurs throughout various stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Together, we crafted their stories, refined their pitch, and developed strategic partnerships. Some of my greatest memories from my time at USD were spending countless hours on a whiteboard with entrepreneurs dreaming, strategizing, and most importantly encouraging them to believe that launching their dreams was possible. Our time together can only be measured in coffee cups, which are too many to count.
Having moved here from Mexico at an early age, I understood the uniqueness of our region. I knew that the border was one of our greatest assets and bringing entrepreneurs from both sides was crucial to the growth of our economy. Driven by my passion, I worked to develop the first cross-border Pitch Competition at USD. As a first-generation Hispanic American, that experience provided me with the understanding that diversity is important to have at every table. It is my life mission to continue to open doors for others, helping them see their dreams, and tap into their impossible. This drive has led me to be recognized as one of San Diego’s Most Influential Business Leaders four years in a row and landed me on the TEDx stage to discuss leadership, innovation, and cross-border relationships.
Innovation beyond borders | Regina Bernal | TEDxSanDiego
Innovation is often thought of within a local context, but in the border region that spans San Diego and Tijuana, entrepreneurs see the world from a very different perspective. In her talk, Regina reveals how the power of innovation, when based on friendship and bi-national cooperation, can benefit both countries.
I like to devote my time to working with our diverse community – such as supporting young girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident as a board member of Girls on the Run San Diego. I am also on the board for the Design Forward Alliance, I support their shared effort to promote human-centered design as a tool to help advance San Diego as a premier city for business, education, and enjoyment. Some of my time is also spent as a consultant supporting female founders. My goal is to help enable their companies to take it to the next level. Together, we turn ideas into roadmaps and visions into business plans. I am always fascinated by the ideas of our diverse founders and the ways we work together to achieve more.
When I am not working, you can catch me doing yoga on the beach or sipping on my favorite beverage, coffee. I am a lover of the outdoors – So if you ever want to go for a hike, a run, or an open water swim, I am the person that would immediately say YES to that invitation.
I am thrilled to join Connect and be part of creating an inclusive world-class innovation ecosystem. As the Strategic Inclusion Director, I have the unique opportunity to lead a strategic approach across the organization to focus on diversity and inclusion in San Diego’s innovation economy. I am beyond excited to work with Connect’s leadership, board, and dynamic team to embed inclusivity across all areas of the organization both internally and externally. I am a strong believer in “we”, knowing that all major changes are born from a “we” mindset and that even greater things happen when awesome people come together and dare to dream big.
Strategic Inclusion Director
Regina leads Connect’s strategic approach across the organization to focus on diversity and inclusion in San Diego’s innovation economy.