Bernard Cherkasov: Chief Executive Officer

Bernard Cherkasov

Skokie, IL — Bernard Cherkasov has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.

He brings a deeply personal commitment to the advancement of human and civil rights and a long track record of working for equity and justice. When he was 13 years old, Cherkasov and his family fled antisemitism and ethnic violence in his native Azerbaijan and came to the US as refugees. He believes that education and community engagement are key to inspiring young people and the public at large to take a stand against antisemitism, racism and all other forms of hate-fueled violence, genocide and atrocity today.

Most recently, Cherkasov served as National Chief Operating Officer of Cradles to Crayons, a national organization providing critical essentials to children living in poverty and crisis situations. Under his leadership, the agency launched Cradles to Crayons Chicago. 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 reach and assist more than 750,000 children every year.

He has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois, the Midwest's largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBT equality. He led Equality Illinois to pass several pieces of historic legislation, including the marriage equality law, bullying prevention measures, and a ban on so-called conversion therapy that served as a model for legislation nationwide. Under Bernard's tenure, Equality Illinois grew to become the nation’s second largest state equality organization.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (“IHMEC”) is a leading international institution dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. IHMEC has grown into the third largest Holocaust Museum in the world and the second largest in the US. For more information, visit