Representative Diego Bernal was born in South Texas and raised in San Antonio. After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in the city’s west side, he attended the University of Michigan, where he earned his undergraduate degree, Master’s in Social Work, and law degree. As a social worker, he helped young gang members in Detroit transition out of a rough life and into school or the workforce. He continued this work in Harlingen, Texas with Communities in Schools (CIS), working with at-risk youth to improve literacy by founding a student newspaper.
During law school, he devoted himself to civil rights advocacy. He spent a summer in New York City with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a year at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) back in San Antonio.
After graduating from law school, he returned to San Antonio permanently as a MALDEF staff attorney, advocating and litigating on behalf of working people, children, and immigrant communities. He worked for systemic changes to ensure equitable funding for Texas public school and fought against discrimination in schools and the workplace. He also fought to safeguard the integrity of our electoral systems, making sure that every citizen has an equal right to vote.
Outside of work, he pursued another passion: music. Diego has released three successful albums and contributed to other local, national and international projects, which, along with his legal advocacy, led to San Antonio Magazine naming him one of San Antonio’s Men of the Year in 2010.
Diego is dedicated to the principles of equality and justice. He is committed to improving the quality of life in San Antonio and Texas on every level and his experience in law, advocacy, and art contributes to the vision he brings to the Texas House of Representatives.
In June 2011, Diego was elected to the San Antonio City Council representing District 1. He worked alongside Mayor Julian Castro, recently appointed as Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. Diego wrote and passed the strictest payday loan regulation in the state of Texas. Bernal also passed the Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) ensuring everyone is treated equal and fairly.
Representative Bernal was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in February 2015. He represents District 123, home to downtown and north central San Antonio, parts of the city’s west side, along with the City of Castle Hills. He currently sits on the House Committee on Urban Affairs, and the House Committee on International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs.
He is married to Elyse Bernal and they are the proud parents of 2 rescued dogs and 3 adopted pets. Elyse graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word and works in communication and advocacy for a breast cancer nonprofit.