Diane Bernstein

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Diane Bernstein, of Washington, died on April 30. Born in Chicago on July 27, 1933, to Leo and Dora Sniderman Diamond. She moved to Washington and later New York City, where she attended the Bronx School of Science and then Vassar College. In 1954, she married Norman Bernstein and their extraordinary bond would last 67 years, producing six children and 12 grandchildren.

Diane lived a 50-year commitment to children’s issues and organizations. She worked at Children’s National Medical Center, where she founded the Patient Representative Office and co-founded the Department of Child Life, the New Horizons cultural enrichment program and the hospital’s Quality Assurance Program. She later served on the CNMC board of directors and was vice chair of the Children’s Research Institute. She joined the board of directors of the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children and served as its chair.


In 1992, she co-founded and was president of DC Action for Children and served as executive director for over 12 years. In 1999, Mrs. Bernstein was appointed by then-Mayor Anthony Williams to the board of directors of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation where she served as vice chair.

As an active partner with Norman in their philanthropy, she brought her expertise to their funding of programs supporting the most vulnerable children in the region and became president of the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation in 2004. Mrs. Bernstein also served on numerous other boards, including with the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, the President’s Council of the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Advisory Board of the National Science Research Council and Sixth & I Synagogue. Her activism sometimes got her into “good trouble,” including being arrested and briefly jailed in 2011 while protesting for DC voting rights.

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Diane is survived by her husband, Norman Bernstein; their six children, Celia (Bradley Kesden), Marianne (Robert Kalb), Nancy (Robert Schoen), Susan and Joshua (Lisa) Bernstein and Elizabeth (Robert) Norton; their 12 grandchildren, Jacob and Benjamin Kalb, Molly, Emily and Andrew Bernstein, Lena Kesden, Zoe and Noah Schoen, Lucy and Max Norton, and Sophie and Eli Siegel-Bernstein; and her siblings, Joseph (Susan) Diamond and Gail Schwartz.

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