Peter V. Berns is a nationally recognized nonprofit sector leader and public interest lawyer. He is the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc, the world’s largest community-based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Berns has been at the helm of The Arc since July 2008, strategically managing a national organization with 600 state and local chapters across the country. Under his leadership, the nearly 70-year-old organization has charted an ambitious course of progress, innovation and change as it aims to achieve its mission of promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
Berns has spearheaded the creation of national programs at The Arc to address pressing needs of the IDD community, including in education, employment, future planning, health, technology, and travel. He has steered the organization through threats to critical federal programs for people with IDD and their families, such as Medicaid, and expanded the organization’s grassroots organizing capacity while continuing its recognized leadership in public policy and legal advocacy.
Before joining The Arc, Berns was the Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, a post he held for 16 years. In that capacity, he built the Association from a start-up to a position of prominence in the nonprofit community, nationally, with nearly 2,000 members of all sizes, all sectors and from all regions of the state. In addition, he served as Chief Executive Officer of the Standards for Excellence Institute since its inception in 2004.
His previously held positions include Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office as well as Assistant Attorney General and, earlier in his career, Staff Attorney/Fellow at the Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Policy Studies.
Berns served on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 2011 – 2017. He sits on Comcast NBCUniversal’s Joint Diversity Committee, representing the disability community. He has been named six times to the Nonprofit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 list, most recently in 2015. Berns received his JD, cum laude, from Harvard Law School and has an LLM in advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center. He received his BA in psychology, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.