Early life and education
Bernauer was raised in northern Minnesota, the son of a J.C. Penney department store manager. He attended North Dakota State University and began his career at Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1966. Bernauer was an active member of the Beta Sigma Chapter of the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity. He graduated with a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1967, and began working as a pharmacist for Walgreens. Bernauer also held the store-level positions of Pharmacy Manager, Store Manager, District Pharmacy Supervisor, and District Manager before being named Vice President and Treasurer in 1990.
Bernauer was promoted to Vice President of Purchasing and Merchandising in 1992, then to Vice President and Chief Information Officer in 1995. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in 1996, and President and Chief Operations Officer in 2000.
In 2002 Bernauer was named CEO; a year later, he became Chairman and CEO of Walgreens, replacing Dan Jorndt, who retired. Early in 2006, it was announced that Jeff Rein, president of the company, would take over Bernauer's position as CEO. Bernauer will stay on to remain Chairman of the Company.
Bernauer is Vice Chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. He is on the Board of Directors of Office Depot, as well as the Board of Trustees of Chicago’s Field Museum, and the Board of Directors of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).