A second-generation Italian American, Chuck grew up in Streator, Ill., and distinguished himself as an undergraduate and then as a law student at the University of Illinois in Champaign. After graduation from law school, he relocated to Chicago.
His first job after receiving his J.D. was as a legislative assistant to Bob Blair, the Republican Speaker of the Illinois House, on the same staff with a future governor of the state, Jim Edgar, as well as Wayne Andersen, who later became a highly respected jurist.
From there, Bernardini came to Chicago and volunteered in election law reform and independent politics and supported former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley for his first run as Cook County State’s Attorney in 1980. Upon his election, then State’s Attorney Daley appointed Chuck to head the Election Division of that office, no small appointment, which certainly reflects the great esteem in which Bernardini is regarded in the Illinois legal community.
In 1986, he was elected on the Harold Washington ticket to the Cook County Board of Commissioners against the slated Regular Democratic candidate. Reelected to the County Board in 1990, he resigned in 1993 to take the position of Managing Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Milan, Italy. This was a significant appointment to a signature event in Chuck Bernardini’s distinguished career.
“In 1993, when I resigned from the Cook County Board and a good job with Allstate Insurance Company’s legal department, to take the position as Managing Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate in Italy, some people thought I was crazy. Others, especially leaders of our ethnic bar association, the Justinian Society of (Italian) Lawyers, encouraged me to go with my passion. I will always be grateful to Leonard Amari and other senior Justinians and friends like him, and will always encourage young Justinians to find their own passion and follow it. It has worked out well for me.”
In 1994, Bernardini was asked by Mayor Daley to return to Chicago and be appointed Alderman of the 43rd ward, and was re-elected to a full term in 1995. He was very successful in that position and was very respected and appreciated by his lakefront constituents.
In 2009, he was named by Governor Quinn as Chair of the Global Markets Committee of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Commission. This is another example of Chuck’s wonderful repertoire of accomplishments.
As one of the few lawyers in America who is both fluent in written and spoken Italian and has lived and worked in a leadership role in Italy, Chuck represents Italian companies doing business in the U.S. and U.S. companies doing business with Italy.
Chuck provided sound advice and shared his political experiences and his wisdom during the creation of the Italian American Political Coalition, the political voice of our Italian American community. He played a significant role in formulating its early agenda. A clear example of why he is referred to as a leader and statesman.
As a highly respected attorney and bar leader, Bernardini has served as a role model in our Justinian Society of (Italian) Lawyers.
A strong supporter of our ethnic home in Stone Park, Casa Italia, Chuck has participated in all of its historical retreats, setting its mid to long range agenda, and working for its continued success.
As the only lawyer in Chicago who has served (honorably) on both the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board, he also represents clients who have dealings with city and county government, in TIF, zoning, development, and supplying products or services.
Chuck’s passions are his children Alessandra and Carlo, his wife Patricia, the Italian language and anything Italian.
Chuck’s grandparents came to the USA around 1900 from the Appenine mountains outside Bologna (nonno) and Piemonte (nonna).
They met in the coal mining town of Cherry, Illinois (Bureau County), where to this day many people of Italian-American descent, from Emilia-Romagna and Piemonte, live.
Another example of the best our community has to offer.