Michelle D. Bernard is the president of the Independent Women's Forum. An attorney by training, Bernard concentrates on domestic and international legal, legislative and foreign policy matters pertaining to women and minorities. Known as IWF's "Renaissance woman," Bernard has an impressive resume and an uncanny ability to speak persuasively on an incredible range of topics.
A native Washingtonian, Bernard learned the ins and outs of the nation's capital in a variety of high powered jobs including a stint in the 2000 Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee, Inc., a partnership at the District of Columbia's Patton Boggs LLP, and chairmanship of the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency where she gained wide experience and recognition for negotiating the joint public-private financing and development deal which paved the way for the construction of the MCI Center, home of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals. In January 1996, after negotiating $275 million in financing for the District's new sports arena, Bernard helped land a city bond offering on Wall Street, saving the District's taxpayers between $7 million and $11 million. In 1997, The Legal Times stated that in hiring Bernard, one of her client's had "tapped its own source of political prowess."
As a political and legal analyst, Bernard has spoken on topics as varied as faith and foreign policy, the War in Iraq, the political participation and voting trends of African Americans and women, and advancing democracy, economic liberty, and the human rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities around the world. Bernard has been featured in several publications, including: Fast Company magazine, The Legal Times, The New York Daily News, The Washington Business Journal, The Washington City Paper, The Washington Lawyer, The Washington Post, The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and The Washington Times. Additionally, Bernard has been prominently featured in the Observer and the Gleaner, two of Jamaica 's leading national newspapers. Her television and radio appearances include America's Black Forum, BBC Radio, CNBC's The Dennis Miller Show, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Court TV's Catherine Crier Live, Good Morning Jamaica, MSNBC, PBS's Evening Exchange and To the Contrary, NPR's Tavis Smiley Show and KLAS FM 89 (Jamaica).
Presently, Bernard is leading IWF's Iraqi women's democracy initiative and is the program officer of the Iraqi Women's Educational Institute (IWEI). IWEI is a joint project of IWF, the American Islamic Congress, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Since joining IWF, Bernard has worked with the Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq, delegations of Iraqi women activists, and others to promote the full economic, social and political participation of Iraqi women as Iraq moves towards its January 2005 elections. Bernard has been a driving force in promoting the human rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities. She has assisted in the development and implementation of training programs on the pillars of democracy, women's rights and religious freedom, political activism in a democracy, issues of governance, free markets and micro-enterprise. Additionally, Bernard has assisted in the development and implementation of briefings for Iraqi women on the Economic Index of Freedom, literacy, and polling.
Bernard also has experience in constitutional law, international human rights, international business law, and domestic and international legislative matters with an emphasis on matters pertaining to women, ethnic and religious minorities in emerging democracies. Bernard has worked on matters pertaining to or in the Caribbean and Latin America , the Middle East, southern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, Bernard has experience in defending complex federal and state litigation, concentrating on civil and criminal enforcement issues, election law litigation, and white collar criminal defense. She has extensive experience in matters involving the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the civil and criminal provisions of the U.S. False Claims Act.
Bernard has authored numerous articles including: Qui Tam Litigation Under the Civil and Criminal False Claims Act, Complex Crimes Journal (Annual Update of the Complex Crimes Committee of the Litigations Section of the American Bar Association) (December 1994); RICO and the "Operation Management" Test: The Potential Chilling Effect on Criminal Prosecutions , 28 U. Rich. L. Rev. 669 (May 1994) (co-author, Ira H. Raphaelson); Financial Institution Fraud: Congress Still Struggles to Respond Consistently , 2 Bank Fraud (ABA White Collar Crime Committee, Section of Criminal Justice) (Summer-Fall 1993) (co-author, Eva Marie Shivers); and Maryland Environmental Law, Federal Publications (1990 & Supp 1991) (contributing author).
Bernard holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy and political science from Howard University and a juris doctor from The Georgetown University Law Center. Bernard is a 2003 graduate of Leadership Maryland.