Born:  March 17, 1926
Galesburg, Illinois

Summary by
Genevieve Beske

Interviews Conducted by
Prof. Vicki C. Jackson

Joan (Jodie) Z. Bernstein, Esq.

Oral History Text & Documentation

Important Notice: Please consult the agreements below for any restrictions on the use of these materials.

Oral History Summary


Ms. Bernstein most recently completed six years as director of consumer protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). During her tenure, the agency targeted fraudulent operators on the developing commercial Web sites;  initialed a leading coordinating program in the governments’s effort to attack identity theft; reported to Congress on issues of internet privacy and, at the request of Congress, on self regulation in the alcohol industry.

She served as a spokesperson on many other consumer issues, particularly on those practices that affected children, in traditional deceptive advertising matters and in their on-line exposures. The government’s first examination of the marketing of “violent content” movies, music and video games to children was conducted under her direction. By working closely with the state attorneys general, enforcement of federal legislation like the Telemarketing Sales Act was expanded significantly.

Ms. Bernstein served for several years in the Environment Protection Agency– first as general council and as assistant administrator for enforcement of the EPA’s regulatory and permit programs. She was also general council of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her responsibilities included developing and issues a set of regulations giving affect to Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited gender discrimination in colleges and universities. She also supervised the legal divisions of the Food and Drug’ Administration as well and the Health Care Finance Administration.

In the private sector,  she represented major companies in environmental matters and, for five years, was the general council  of Chemical Waste Management, the country’s largest hazard waste company. She subsequently served as a senior vice president of Waste Management, Inc., the parent company, where she developed the environmental compliance and ethics programs at the company.

Ms. Bernstein has been recognized as a spokesperson on consumer and environmental and health and safety issues. As such, she is the recipient of the Miles W. Kirkpatrick Award for Lifetime Federal Trade Commission Achievement. This award is presented annually to an individual whose contributions to the agency span the length of a professional career and are reflected in all facets of the honoree’s work, inside and outside the agency.

She also has received the Good Housekeeping Award, the National Consumer League Trumpeter Award and an Excellence in Government Service Award from the National Association of Women Executives in State Government. Ms. Bernstein is a board member of the Council for Better Business Bureaus.


LL.D., Yale University, 1951
B.A., University of Wisconsin, 1948