Bertice Berry Profile

  • Sociology and veteran comedian, Dr. Bertice Berry shows audiences how to find inspiration in life's challenges.

  • An expert in both race and gender, Dr. Berry combines her academic expertise with her experience as a woman of color and mother of five to get audiences laughing and thinking at the same time.

  • Dr. Berry is the author of 11 books including the bestsellers Sckraight From the Ghetto, You Might Be Ghetto If and its sequel You STILL Ghetto.
  • Dr. Bertice Berry has been stirring academic and corporate audiences to action for over 25 years. An accomplished sociologist, Dr. Berry has expertise in several areas including statistics, race relations, and gender, but it is her experience as an entrepreneur, comedian, and mother of 5 that give her an edge on stage. From women’s forums to the financial industry, Dr. Berry inspires and equips audiences to be their best self and lead from there.

    Dr. Berry draws greatly from her own compelling personal journey. Growing up as one of 7 siblings in a single mother household, her statistical chances for “success” were not favorable. Yet set on studying, she won a full scholarship to Florida’s Jacksonville University for undergrad and earned her PhD in sociology from Kent State University by the time she was 26. Afterwards, she launched her teaching career there, quickly gaining a reputation for her transformative lectures, in which she tackled tough issues with humor and authenticity.

    Dr. Berry is the author of 11 best-seller and critically acclaimed books, both fiction and non-fiction. Outside her career of effecting positive transformation as a speaker, humorist, and writer, she works to alleviate poverty through her work with Emmaus House, LeanIn, and the charitable art gallery she co-owns with her sister.

    Dr. Berry is the recipient of Kent State University’s Oscar W.Ritchie Distinguished Alumni Award and has also been named one of the 70 most influential alumni to come out of Jacksonville University in the past 70 years. She was also a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Literature.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      No one defies stereotypes, generalizations or clichés more than Dr. Bertice Berry. Growing up poor in Wilmington, Delaware, the sixth of seven children, Bertice was told by a high school teacher that she was “not college material”. Fortunately, there was another teacher who believed that she was destined for more. Berry applied to several schools without any idea how she would pay the tuition if she were accepted. The day her application arrived at Jacksonville University in Florida, a wealthy benefactor called the Admissions Department looking for a potential student “who could swim if they had the right backing,” and might sink without it.

      Bertice not only graduated magna cum laude from Jacksonville where she was awarded the President’s Cup for leadership, she subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University at the age of 26. Dr. Berry taught sociology and statistics at Kent, and demonstrated that she knew a few things about humor, as well. She became one of the most popular teachers at the university; so popular, in fact, larger lecture halls had to be found to accommodate the ever-increasing number of students. “A colleague said to me, ‘You’re funny’, and I said, ‘No I’m not, I’m a scholar,” recounts Dr. Berry. It was then that she realized by using humor in her lectures to address such difficult subjects as racisms and sexism she was making a more profound impact.

      Shortly thereafter, Berry left Kent to become an award-winning entertainer, lecturer and comedienne. From 1991 through 1994 she won the coveted national Comedian of the Year Award, and was also named Campus Lecturer of the Year and Campus Entertainer of the Year. She had created a niche as both a gifted speaker with a comic edge and a comic with a serious message. Her busy schedule included over 200 appearances a year.

      Berry was the host and co-executive producer of her own nationally syndicated talk show, “The Bertice Berry Show,” and hosted “USA Live,” a four-hour live interview and entertainment show on the USA Cable Network. She’s been featured on numerous other television programs, including appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” ABC’s “20/20” and more recently on NPR’s “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin.

      Dr. Bertice Berry is also the best-selling author of an inspirational memoir, I’m On My Way, But Your Foot Is On My Head, and the hilarious bestsellers Sckraight From the Ghetto, You Might Be Ghetto If and the sequel You STILL Ghetto. Her first work of fiction, Redemption Song, published by Double Day in 2000, is also a Best-seller and has been praised by critics for its’ ability to entertain, inspire and educate. Berry followed Redemption Song, with another bestseller, The Haunting of Hip Hop and took her readers on a journey to the other side. In August 2002, she released her most passionate work ever with Jim & Louella’s Homemade Heart-fix Remedy, a tantalizing yet spiritual tale that has won several awards. Berry’s wit and wisdom shine through in her novel about looking for love in all the wrong places—and with all the wrong people, When Love Calls, You Better Answer; released the summer of 2005. Her book, The Ties That Bind, bridges the past with the future and is more personal—tracing the history of her family— and was released January 2009.Her latest book, A Year to Wellness and Other Weight Loss Secrets is a personal journey of healing and wellness that resulted in a weight loss of 150 lbs.“Those who care a lot, carry a lot,” says Berry. A Year to Wellness and Other Wellness Secrets was released in May 2011.

      In 2011, Savannah Technical College President Dr. Kathy Love along with Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson dedicated a new Student Enrichment Facility and presented Dr. Berry with the Bertice Berry Change & Transformation Classrooms.

      Dr. Berry believes that community involvement is not limited to just “writing a check” and has taken a very active role in supporting organizations that benefit those in need. She has graciously donated all of the royalties from the sales of her books to organizations that help families in transition, raise funds for scholarships and provide resource information to low-income families.

      Despite all of her honors and achievements, Dr. Berry is most proud of becoming the “instant mother” to her five children and becoming a grandmother  in 2015. She lives in Savannah, GA where she is active in the community. “When you walk with purpose,” Berry says, “you collide with destiny!”

    Bertice Berry Speaking Videos

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    Bertice Berry's Speech Descriptions

    Dr. Bertice Berry makes you feel like you can take on the world. Blending together laughter, research, and even song. Dr. Berry’s programs showcase how we can effect change by focusing on the internal aspects of ourselves. Emphasizing the humorous side of her own struggles, Dr. Berry imparts accessible tools that will help you reframe your thinking, break through barriers, and lead with joy.

    Healing the Village
    The old proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is correct – but the problem is that our village is sick. In her keynote presentation, award-winning speaker Dr. Bertice Berry presents practical solutions to address the problems facing our village. Drawing on her personal experience as well as her professional expertise, Dr. Berry helps us to create and sustain a healthier village. Deftly using humor in her keynote speech, she motivates, enlightens and entertains audiences.

    Finding Your Purpose
    Dr. Bertice Berry helps people find their true purpose in life. “People who walk in purpose collide with destiny,” she says. She illustrates her points with examples from her life experiences and through her amazing and unending sense of humor. She believes that people learn better when they can laugh. In her keynote presentation, she discusses the importance of finding your purpose in life and leading others into purpose. She also discusses different learning styles and points out how crucial it is to learn the style that works best for yourself and the people you are leading. She talks about diversity from a different perspective and points out that equality is everyone getting what they need to move into purpose, especially in education.

    The Ties That Bind
    In this keynote presentation, Dr. Berry discusses the evolution of race relations from slavery to Reconstruction, from the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power 1970s, and on to the present day, stressing the need to forgive and be forgiven.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Bertice Speak

    Rating Entries

    “She’s got the entire Linkage staff (and hundreds of summit attendees) rethinking the way we spend our lives. It was an honor to bring her to the Women in Leadership Summit, and her remarks changed my mindset about what’s possible when we are not afraid to fail.”
    – Linkage

    “On a scale of 1 (not valuable) to 4 (extremely valuable), her keynote earned a 3.97. UNBELIEVABLE. We loved her stories, her perspective, her perseverance, and her unparalleled capacity to make us laugh. And that singing voice is AMAZING. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That said, I’d love to bring her to the Linkage Summit on Leading Diversity.”
    – Linkage

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    Books by Bertice Berry:

    Walking With Purpose, Colliding With Destiny: An Instructional Pathway to Purposeful Living

    Walking With Purpose, Colliding With Destiny is an inspirational yet instructional guide for finding and living your purpose.

    Sociologist, best-selling author, lecturer, and mother Bertice Berry, PhD., shares wisdom for living the life you were meant for, and the life you’ve always meant to have.

    “The stick and the carrot will only keep you going for so long Berry says. “We need to live a life driven by purpose. Your purpose is as individual and as unique as you are. But when you find and live your purpose on a daily basis, you create destiny moments for the world.”

    Walking With Purpose, Colliding With Destiny provides, wisdom, tools, meditation and reflection for seeing and becoming what your world needs.

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