William Bernstein grew up in New Jersey and met his wife, Katherine, while attending the Philadelphia College of Art in Pennsylvania. After graduation, the couple accepted two-year resident artist positions at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, then settled nearby. In 1971, William helped arrange the first meeting of the Glass Art Society with Fritz Dreisbach and Mark Peiser, who had suggested that glass artists should meet regularly to exchange ideas. The group flourished and today the Glass Art Society supports glass artists and promotes the field through education and appreciation. William and Katherine continue to work individually and collaboratively in their rural North Carolina studio. One of their sons, Alex Gabriel Bernstein, is also a glass artist.