Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is proud to announce the appointment of national nonprofit leader Bernard Cherkasov as the Museum's Chief Executive Officer. [Cherkasov is gay and has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.]
Cherkasov joins the Museum during an incredible moment in its history. In 2022, the Museum saw record-high attendance and gained international attention for its groundbreaking virtual reality exhibition and leadership in combating antisemitism and speaking out for justice.
"It is always incredible to find a leader who can meet the moment," said Jordan Lamm, Chair of the Museum's Board. "Bernard has had a profound impact on the fabric of the local, state, and national community. He committed himself with compassion and tenacity to the advancement of human and civil rights and worked tirelessly for equity and justice. Bernard's personal connection to our work and his years of leadership make him a perfect fit for the Museum's mission and legacy."
When he was 13 years old, Cherkasov and his family fled antisemitism and ethnic violence in his native Azerbaijan and came to the United States as refugees. His worldview was shaped by the courage and conviction of those who took risks to help his family and refugees like them.
Cherkasov served as National COO of Cradles to Crayons, an organization providing essentials to children living in poverty and crisis situations. Responsible for multiple markets with hubs in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, he oversaw fundraising strategies and public engagement programs to more than double the annual number of children served. By the end of his tenure, Cradles to Crayons was on track to assist more than 750,000 children every year.
Prior to his tenure at Cradles to Crayons, Cherkasov served as Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, the Midwest's largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBT equality. Cherkasov has been honored as a Great Immigrant by The Carnegie Foundation and was recognized by NBC as one of the Pride 30 LGBTQ global leaders.
A lawyer by training, Cherkasov practiced corporate law before joining the nonprofit sector. He also served as an international law clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel. Bernard earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan and a Master's in Theological Studies from Harvard. He is the proud dad of a teenage daughter.
We look forward to welcoming Bernard Cherkasov beginning Feb. 8.