Margaret Bernal is a sociologist, poet and cultural heritage specialist who has worked in the fields of cultural documentation, academic research, heritage tourism, public relations and community development throughout her professional career.
A Sociology graduate of the University of Nottingham, England, she returned to her birthplace, Jamaica, to join the staff of The University of the West Indies focusing on Caribbean Social and Cultural Heritage. She edited ARTS JAMAICA, the English-speaking Caribbean’s first visual arts magazine, and worked for many years with the Jamaica Tourist Board, pioneering the development of the island’s domestic tourism industry. Before going to the USA to take up diplomatic duties, Mrs. Bernal was Executive Director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Jamaica.
Mrs. Bernal and her husband Ambassador Dr. Richard L. Bernal, O.J, served in Washington D.C. from May 1991 until August 2001. During the eleven-year diplomatic assignment, Mrs. Bernal worked actively with city, national and international interests, pioneering new areas of multicultural community exchange with the extensive Jamaican community in North America. She served as Founding Board Member of several philanthropic, cultural and development institutions, including the Kennedy Centre’s Very Special Arts. Mrs. Bernal coordinated the JAMAICA ARTISTS ALLIANCE, bringing together all Jamaican and Caribbean artists in North America, the CARIBBEAN REALITIES Fair, in the Spoleto Festival, Charleston, and JAM-FEST in Washington D.C. She was Commissioner of Jamaica In Venice, the island’s premiere entry in the 2001 Venice Biennale.
Her ongoing mission is to foster the cultural patrimony of Jamaica, to document its rich visual arts and cultural heritage and to promote and develop museums and cultural spaces island wide as catalysts for the economic empowerment of young Jamaicans.
In 2013 she published her first book of poetry: Island Reliquaries – Voices from a Jamaica Past (Arts Jamaica), to be followed by works InterWeave: Praise Poems to Jamaican Art ; and Up Mountain: Journeying poems through a Jamaican landscape to be released in 2017.