Bernadette Castro

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Bernadette Castro
Bernadette Castro.jpg
Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and
Historic Preservation for New York
In office
Personal details
Born 1944
Manhattan, New York
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dr. Peter M. Guida
Children Terri Keogh, David Austin, Jonathan Austin and Bernard Austin
Parents Bernard and Theresa Castro
Occupation CEO of Castro Convertibles
Profession Business Owner

Bernadette Castro (b. 1944, Manhattan, New York) is a businesswoman and former New York politician who served in the Cabinet of former Governor George Pataki. She is the CEO of Castro Convertibles, a convertible furniture company based in Locust Valley, New York. Castro sold the company to Krause Furniture in 1993.[1] In 2009 Bernadette bought back the company with her children and re-launched in 2012, online at and on the Home Shopping Network.

Castro Convertibles[edit]

After earning her master’s degree at the University of Florida, Bernadette worked in the advertising and promotions department of Castro Convertibles. While raising her four children Bernadette worked in the business on a limited basis and later moved into her role as the company CEO when they were grown. While Bernadette sold the furniture division of the family’s company in 1993, she retained ownership of the real estate and remained active in the family’s commercial real estate business with properties along the East Coast. Terri Keogh, Bernadette’s daughter, is CEO of Castro Properties.

In 2009 Bernadette bought back the Castro Convertibles furniture business with her family, relaunching the legendary brand with two all new convertible ottomans designed for contemporary living. The products are sold online ( and on the Home Shopping Network.

New York State Parks Commissioner[edit]

In 1995, Bernadette was appointed Commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation by Governor George E. Pataki, a cabinet post she held for twelve years. During her tenure from 1995 to 2006, New York State preserved over one million acres of land through acquisition for state parks and conservation easements. Much of this was funded by a $1.75 billion environmental bond, which was authorized in 1996.

Among her many accomplishments as Commissioner, Bernadette worked with Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Trust for Public Land in 1996 to acquire the 18,000 acre Sterling Forest property for $55 million. The property protects approximately 25% of New Jersey’s drinking water. Sterling Forest II, an additional 1,065 acres, was purchased later in Castro’s term for $8 million. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Bernadette the Vice Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The following year, Bernadette brought the United States Open Golf Championship to Bethpage State Park, the first time the Open was held at a public golf course. In accordance with the deal Castro struck with the US Open, the Golf Championship returned to Bethpage State Park in 2009.

In 2003, the National Recreation and Park Association awarded New York State Parks, the National Gold Medal, designating them as the country's best state parks system. Also in 2003, the agency was recognized for its comprehensive efforts to save Governor's Island in New York City which was transferred from the federal government back to the people of New York.

United States Senate Run[edit]

In 1994, Bernadette decided to pursue her passion for politics, running for the U.S. Senate and winning an impressive 42% of the votes against four-term Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

1994 NYS Republican Ticket[edit]


Bernadette has been honored with a number of awards for her work in conservation, parks, business in including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advancement of Commerce, Industry and Technology (ACIT) in 2009, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Long Island Business News in 2008, the Service Award for Land and Water Conservation Fund from the National Park Service in 2006, the Governor’s Parks & Preservation Award, presented by Governor George Pataki in 2005, the Women in Conservation Award from the National Audubon Society in 2005, the Theodore Roosevelt Medal for Conservation from The History Channel in 2003, the Cornelius Amory Pugsley Award, from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in association with The National Park Foundation in 2002, the Theodore Roosevelt Legacy of Conservation Award in 2001, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1999, as well as being inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame in 1990.

Community and Charity Work[edit]

Bernadette offers her support to a number of community organizations and charitable causes. Bernadette acts as fundraising auctioneer for a number organizations, as well as the Master of Ceremonies for New York Presbyterian Hospital and Networking Magazine. Bernadette also lends her support to organizations such as The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), the,[2] the Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York, TR Sanctuary in Oyster Bay, N.Y (a national Audubon Center) the Royal Dames for Cancer Research and the Telecare Catholic TV Network. Bernadette is a member of the Advisory Board of Volunteers for Wildlife and a member of the Advisory Board of the Landmarks Conservancy. Bernadette is a former board member of the Long Island State Parks Commission and a former board member of Hofstra University and former Advisory Board Member of Lying-In Hospital.

Personal life[edit]

Bernadette is married to Dr. Peter M. Guida, Retired Professor of Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital -Cornell University Medical Center, and they reside in Huntington, New York. Bernadette has four children: Terri Keogh, David Austin, Jonathan Austin and Bernard Austin, as well as eight grandchildren.

Early life[edit]

Role in Castro Convertibles Bernadette became involved with the Castro Convertibles business at a very early age. As a 4-year-old child, Castro starred in the brand’s iconic television commercials that ran over 40,000 times, earning her the distinction of being the most televised child in America. With these commercials, and subsequent parodies of the commercials on shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” "The Jackie Gleason Show," and Milton Berle's "Texaco Star Theatre,” Bernadette catapulted her father Bernard’s innovative convertible couch to national fame by illustrating how the convertibles were “So easy to open, even a child can do it!” . At the age of twelve, Bernadette starred in the first live, color television commercial.

Singing career[edit]

Bernadette recorded several singles in the 1960s for Columbia Pictures' recording subsidiary Colpix Records, including a girl group-style record which hit the national charts, “His Lips Get in the Way.” Bernadette’s singles have been compared to top girls groups of the era like the Shangri-Las and The Ronettes. She released additional singles on Colpix including "A Girl In Love Forgives" and "Sports Car Sally," popular among many girl group collectors for its hot-rod theme.


Bernadette graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. She subsequently earned a master's degree in educational administration from the same institution and became the first woman ever to receive the University's School of Journalism Distinguished Alumnus


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert McMillan
Republican Nominee for United States Senator from New York (Class 1)
Succeeded by
Rick Lazio