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About Joe



Joe and his wife Madeleine (Maddie) live in Springfield, Oregon. The Berneys enjoy a rich family life, with 5 children and 3 grandchildren close by. They care deeply about a Lane County where future generations can earn a good living, raise and provide for their families, and enjoy the abundance and beauty of a healthy natural environment.

Maddie taught high school 30 years in Cottage Grove.  She coordinates SMART Reading volunteers at Thurston Elementary, is on the Springfield Education Foundation board, and has enjoyed a lifetime of gardening. She earned her Master Gardener certification through Lane County's OSU Extension program.



Joe earned a BA in Economics and a Secondary Teaching Credential from the University of California Santa Cruz.


Joe's career has spanned over 4 decades of entrepreneurship and leadership in business, economic development, education and training. Most recently he built a successful business developing and financing commercial and industrial energy efficiency, renewable energy, microgrid and energy storage retrofits.  By closing and successfully completing large and highly visible projects, his company created new markets and channels to those markets for the building trades. His firm developed their own fund and closed over $140M in new market projects his last 2 years there.

Projects included the nation’s largest PACE-financed commercial energy efficiency retrofit, the nation’s largest Net Zero Plus facility with and for IBEW 11 (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and Los Angeles NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association), and creating new financial products enabling the Catholic Church nationwide to install solar (previously precluded by the church’s covenants and conditions).

Selected Achievements:

  • Initiated and brokered the Energy Trust of Oregon and Umpqua Bank GreenStreet Lending Partnership.  This created new residential and commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy finance products and incentives, and made them available throughout Umpqua Bank retail stores in Oregon, Southwest Washington, and Northern California.

  • Founding Executive Director of the Lane Regional Workforce Quality Committee, securing and managing over $7M in school-to-work and displaced-millworker training dollars for Lane County.

  • Executive Director of Lane County’s Networking for Youth, generating several million in investments for local youth, partnering with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Pew Smaller American Cities Initiative, and receiving the Pacific Non-Profit Association’s 1996 Award of Excellence.

  • Consulted and developed projects for the country of El Salvador creating a national economic development strategy anchored in small-scale public-private energy efficiency and renewable energy ventures.  Berney’s work was toured and recognized by President Obama during his 2011 visit to El Salvador.

  • Co-Owned a broccoli processing plant and cold storage facility in Watsonville CA.

  • Developed and directed California's first Migrant Farm Worker Training Center with Teamsters Joint Council 7, Teamsters Local 912 and seven vegetable and fruit processing plants.

  • One of three architects of California's first Statewide High School Drop-Out Prevention Policy (1988).

  • Tenured high school teacher.

  • Adjunct Professor of Education, UC Santa Cruz (1976-78) and University of Oregon (2010).


Selected Achievements as County Commissioner:

  • Created a community benefit bidding protocol requiring prevailing wages, employer-paid full family health insurance, and other benefits for all workers on county construction projects.  It prioritizes diverse workforce participation in apprenticeships, set-asides prioritizing women and minority owned vendors, priority on all work to local business, local hires, and green building standards.

  • Wrote and submitted a new state law modeled after his local Community Benefits Bidding Protocol which allowed any county, city, school district and public entity in Oregon to move from a low-bid to a community benefits bidding environment, potentially affecting about $10B of public contracting every year.  His proposal was passed and made state law in Oregon in 2020.

  • Created and helped structure the first-ever Lane County Climate Action initiative;

  • Increased county investment in hospitality and event-based local economic development;

  • Created and structured a $100M partnership between local businesses and county government which will transform the county dump and landfill (Short Mountain) into an industrial recycling and organics-to-clean energy hub.

  • Chaired the Board of Commissioners, becoming Chair during Covid and one day before the national turmoil instigated by the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Commissioner Berney worked closely with county leadership staff and brought order to chaos and service to needs locally during these crises.

Civic Volunteerism:

  • Board of Education, Lane Education School District (1996-2010). 

  • Board, Springfield Renaissance Development Corporation.

  • Board of Directors, Children’s Relief Nursery (1995-1998).

  • Co-founding Board Member, California Conservation Corps Foundation (1987).


Selected Recognitions:

Joe has received awards recognizing his achievements in numerous public and private sector groups. Most notably:

  • NECA’s (National Electrical Contractors Association) 2017 Electrical Excellence Award for St. Lucy’s Priory High School solar project.

  • Outstanding Public Service Award, Lane County Labor Council, 2019

  •  CAL BOMA’s (California Building Owner and Manager’s Association) 2014 Industry Leader Award in Energy for Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City Energy and Water Retrofit.

  •  UC Santa Cruz's 2008 Distinguished Social Science Alumni Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Social Justice.

  • Pew Partnership for Civic Change Exemplary American City Award for Networking for Youth, 1995.

  • Outstanding Contributions to Youth Employment, Employment Development Department, State of California, 1988 


Selected Recognitions While in Office:

  • Labor Champion, Lane County Labor Council, 2019

  • Working Class Champion, Lane/Coos/Curry/Douglas Building Trades Association (first Working Class Champion Award given), 2022

  • Human Rights Leadership Award, Springfield Alliance for Equity and Respect (SAFER), 2022


Board Memberships:

  • Springfield Economic Development Agency

  • Advisory; Springfield Community Development Corporation

  • Lane Workforce Partnership (Past Chair)

  • Regional Solutions (Economic Development)

  • Lane Regional Air Pollution Agency

  • Metropolitan Planning Council (Past Chair)

  • Lane County Climate Advisory Committee

  • Association of Oregon Counties

  • Economic Development and Workforce; National Association of Counties

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