Dorothea Bernique

Executive Director

Dorothea is the founder and Executive Director of Increasing H.O.P.E. In this role, Dorothea wears many hats. Not only does she lead her administrative team with vision and tireless effort, Dorothea provides financial counseling and money management instruction to clients; researches and writes grants; speaks on financial literacy at businesses, schools, and non-profits in the greater Charleston community.

In addition, Dorothea has developed and implemented bold strategies for expanding the scope of the agency’s financial training programs. Under her leadership, Increasing H.O.P.E. has grown to include a small business incubator and a minority entrepreneur support center. In 2020, the organization partnered with a cadre of sister nonprofits to create The Opportunity Center, a newly remodeled building in North Charleston dedicated to fostering economic prosperity in households with low and modest incomes.

Dorothea is passionate about helping people establish a better quality of life through gaining financial know-how. An Accredited Financial Counselor, Dorothea has been affectionately called a “financial guru”; since 2003, she and the agency have trained thousands of individuals in the Lowcountry to effectively manage their money. Prior to founding Increasing H.O.P.E., Dorothea worked in the world of finance in a variety of ways, including as a budget counselor/coach and as an independent representative in Financial Services. She has professional training in the insurance, mortgage, and investment fields. In addition to being an AFC,  Dorothea is a licensed Housing and Credit Counselor. 

Dorothea is the author of Kingdom Conscious Money Management, a faith-based plan for personal finances, and a recipient of the Community Service and Leadership Award. In addition, she is a veteran of the U.S. Airforce. Dorothea and her husband, Christopher, have been married for 40 years and live in Summerville, S.C.; they have two grown children, as well as four grandchildren.

Little-known fact: Dorothea enjoys jumping out of airplanes and skydiving! When she is back on the ground, she can often be found working in her yard.