- College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (2021)
Dr. Louise Bernard is a senior vice president at the Obama Foundation and the founding director of the Obama Presidential Center Museum. As a senior content developer and interpretive planner in the New York office of the museum design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), she was the lead content developer on the design team that developed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
During her time at RAA, she supported interpretive planning for a number of other national and international projects, with a focus on site-specific, social justice-driven and transformative initiatives including a pro bono project to support fundraising for the Wangari Muta Maathai House in Karen, Nairobi, in honor of the conservationist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Prior to her time at RAA, Bernard served as director of exhibitions at the New York Public Library (NYPL), overseeing the exhibitions program for the NYPL's research libraries, and as curator of prose and drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. As an assistant professor of English at Georgetown University, she taught African American and post-colonial literatures, worked in collaboration with the British Council’s writer-in-residence program, and served as interim director of the Lannan Literary Programs.
In addition to her degrees from IU, Bernard received a B.A. with honors in drama from the University of Manchester and a Ph.D. in African American studies and American studies from Yale with an interdisciplinary focus on literature. Her current research engages with the literary archive, material culture, museology, public history, and interpretive planning and design.
Bernard previously served on the board of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association and on the Scholarly Advisory Board for the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C. She currently serves on the advisory council for the Johnson Publishing Company Archive (chaired by Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress) and on the MacArthur Foundation Johnson Publishing Company Chicago Event Committee.