Bernie Tolbert

Bernie Tolbert

Bernie Tolbert’s life is blessed with the kind of experiences and opportunities that have exceeded even his most ambitious dreams.  “Success against the odds” is the common thread which is woven throughout his life as Bernie met every challenge with a common sense approach that employed strong leadership and unwavering ethics.  Built on a sound foundation of family, community service, education and hard work, Bernie is uniquely qualified to ensure that his hometown will be a much better place.


Bernie and his four siblings grew up in Willert Park Public Housing Projects where their mother instilled a strong sense of purpose, responsibility and dedication.  Click here to read more about his Mother and the faith and hard work that she continues to exemplify today.

Cradle Beach

Bernie first experienced his “favorite place on earth” as a young camper referred by Social Services in 1959.  He learned empathy for others and was moved deeply by its close-knit and loving community. His direct involvement and support of Cradle Beach Camp now spans 50 years.


Although the self-described “nerdy 10-year-old who carried a briefcase” didn’t begin to seriously compete until high school, Bernie was a natural as he claimed starting roles on Lafayette High School’s football and basketball teams and earned All-High track and field honors. In his college years at the University of Buffalo, Bernie continued on his track and field path of excellence winning high jump, triple jump and long jump conference championships and landing a place in the University of Buffalo’s Athletic Hall of Fame.


After being told his numerous knee surgeries physically disqualified him from being an FBI agent, Bernie fought back and started his career in Buffalo. Of approximately 12,000 agents in the FBI only about 70 are appointed to serve as a Special Agent in Charge ( SAC). Bernie spent the last three years of his nearly 22 year career with the FBI as the SAC for the Buffalo region. His career took him all over the East Coast including headquarter appointments in Washington DC. But Buffalo was always his hometown, and he never let his colleagues forget it.


In the year following Bernie’s FBI retirement he was recruited to a an executive security position with Coca Cola in Atlanta and another with HSBC in Buffalo, but he moved to New York City to take the Vice President of Security job with the National Basketball Association, leading a team of international specialists for overseas and Olympic operations as well as responsibility for the 30 NBA arenas in the United States.

Community Involvement

Along with his 50 years of Cradle Beach support  and serving as a Little League baseball, soccer and coach (as well as an umpire and a referee) Bernie’s civic commitment includes:board service to  United Way, Western New York Public Broadcasting, Erie County Youth Board, Medaille College, The Olmsted Conservancy, The 100 Club of Buffalo and Western New York and the Ellicott District Coalition of Agencies.

Bernie served many years as a member of the University of Buffalo Alumni Association Board and currently is a member of the Board of Directors for The National Federation for Just Communities, The Wisteria Initiative and the Willie Hutch Jones Educational and Sports Programs Organization. He is also a Trustee of the Statler Foundation.