2009 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Luke M. Bernstein ’01
Luke Bernstein ’01 studied political science and policy management at Dickinson, but after an internship with Morgan Stanley, his focus turned to finance. After working briefly for Prudential Securities, he made a life-altering decision to move to Washington, D.C., and start a career in politics.
Bernstein began working for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and quickly rose through the ranks of Santorum’s communications team. He was tapped to serve as coalitions director for the Bush/Cheney campaign and then appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as an advisor in domestic finance at the Department of the Treasury.
In 2006, Santorum faced a tough re-election battle, so Bernstein returned to work as deputy campaign manager for his political mentor. After tough statewide losses, Bernstein was recruited to work at the White House under Karl Rove but decided to stay in Pennsylvania and became executive director of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Politics magazine named Bernstein one of the top 25 rising stars in the country. One of the most prestigious honors in politics, the award goes to people under 35 who already have made a significant mark in the political arena. The magazine chose 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and five nonpartisan leaders out of a pool of several hundred nominees and put Bernstein on an illustrious list with past recipients like James Carville, David Axelrod, Laura Ingraham and George Stephanopoulos.
Bernstein brought his expertise back to Dickinson in spring 2008 when he joined forces with Mary Isenhour, executive director of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, to teach a course on the 2008 Presidential Election. The groundbreaking course was Bernstein’s idea—he contacted Provost Neil Weissman about its creation, and Jim Hoefler, professor of political science, became the department coordinator.
“It seemed that 2008 was going to be a seminal moment in American politics,” said Bernstein in a summer 2008 Dickinson Magazine article. “I thought that with such a dynamic race, it was important to bring our expertise into an academic atmosphere. Just because Mary and I disagree on issues, it doesn’t mean we’re disagreeable. [We] both got into politics to work for causes we care about. I hope our example shows that no matter what you believe in, you can work together.”
Bernstein also participated in a Clarke Forum event, “What Happened and Why? Election Wrap Up,” in November and is vice chairman of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. He also received the Multiple Sclerosis Leadership Award for Central Pennsylvania.
Bernstein was a member of Raven’s Claw and Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Dickinson. He and wife Margaret “Meg” Graves Bernstein ’03 live in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
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