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IACLEA's New Executive Director: John Bernhards

IACLEA is pleased to announce today that John Bernhards, a career senior association executive experienced within the higher education sector, is the organization’s new executive director. He is based in the organization’s Silver Spring, Maryland, headquarters.

Most recently Bernhards served as associate vice president and chief operations officer for APPA -- Leadership in Educational Facilities, the gathering place for educational facilities professionals. APPA has more than 13,000 university facility professionals affiliated with 1,150 learning institutions worldwide.

IACLEA President John Vinson, Ph.D., assistant vice-president for student life: campus and community safety, at the University of Washington-Seattle, said Bernhards’s accomplishments in growing, strengthening, and evolving associations make him an ideal new leader.

“John has built an extensive track record of expanding association services in response to member needs and keeping association offerings vibrant and relevant in his previous leadership roles. There is tremendous optimism among the members who have met him about what’s next for IACLEA.”

Bernhards had responsibility for all APPA program departments, functions, and staff in multiple areas across the organization: education, research and publications, membership and outreach, marketing, standards, information technology, human resources, industry standards, and administration.

His leadership experiences at APPA included board-level strategic planning responsibilities, resulting in a three-fold growth of associate member professionals; the introduction of grassroots training deliveries (APPA Drive-In workshops) and online learning options; successful organizational partnerships designed to advance support and understanding of campus facilities and student safety; the introduction of APPA member engagement groups for facilities leaders within community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); and enhanced marketing campaigns that successfully raised awareness of the impact of campus facilities on student learning. 

Bernhards succeeds Sue Riseling, who announced her retirement in March. Riseling, who served in the role for three years, offered an enthusiastic endorsement:

“At this junction in IACLEA’s history, having someone of John’s caliber and experience in association management is exactly what IACLEA needs to continue its upward trajectory.”

Prior to APPA, Bernhards served for ten years as the vice president of marketing and public relations at the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, as well as the marketing and grassroots communications manager for the US Chamber of Commerce.

 “My strong passion for student safety, coupled with a strong appreciation for the public safety profession, was a driving force in pursuing this leadership opportunity. I look forward to working with John Vinson and IACLEA’s officers and board of directors to advance IACLEA’s mission and the valuable service it performs on behalf of the campus law enforcement profession,” said Bernhards, the son of a retired Washington, DC, police officer.

“It is truly an honor to join IACLEA in support of our members’ important work, to protect our campus communities and advance public safety,”

Bernhards kicked off his term with briefing calls with IACLEA Board members, past presidents, staff, and other volunteer leaders, as he prepares for the fall Board of Directors meeting October 2–4 in Denver at which the Strategic Plan will be the major agenda item. He will also join President Vinson in a series of listening tour calls in August and September.

Photo credit: Andy Harper, 60iMedia Productions

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