Fashion Designer Nicole Miller and Leaders of Innovation Honored at Evening of Innovation

Seven leaders of innovation and one acclaimed fashion designer were honored for their outstanding contributions in their fields during Philadelphia University’s Evening of Innovation on April 28, for which Verizon was the title sponsor.

During the festivities, fashion designer Nicole Miller was presented with the Spirit of Design Award and Charles Bernier ’74, James L. Hamling, Bud Konheim, Meryl Levitz, Robert C. Lockyer ’68, Sean Lockyer ’99 and Carole C. Wedge were awarded Philadelphia University’s Leader of Innovation Medal at the Hyatt at The Bellevue following the University’s Annual Fashion Show. Click here to read about the fashion show.

In addition to the awards ceremony, guests at the gala had the opportunity to view outstanding student research and projects across a variety of disciplines, all showcasing the University’s innovative spirit and the talent and ingenuity of its students. View a slideshow of the Evening of Innovation and Spirit of Innovation Gala below. For a slideshow of the Fashion Show, click here.

The 2013 Spirit of Design winner is:

Nicole Miller
Nicole Miller, Ltd.

Spirit of Design Award honoree Nicole Miller is known for her fashionable apparel, accessory and lifestyle designs, which are sold in boutiques around the world and at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Her designs have been praised in the pages of the Vogue, W, Elle, InStyle and The New York Times, which called Miller one of the leading female designers of her generation.

With a contemporary style that draws on a wide range of influences, Miller’s designs are known for their whimsical prints and attention to perfect proportions and fit. A virtual who’s who of Hollywood have worn Miller’s designs, including celebrities Beyoncé, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie.

Miller received her bachelor of fine arts degree in apparel design from the Rhode Island School of Design. She also studied haute couture at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, giving her a unique formal training in design and the classical techniques of couture. From her signature collections to her affordable lifestyle lines, Miller’s label has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

The 2013 Leader of Innovation Medal recipients are:

Charles H. Bernier
President of ECBM

After graduating from Philadelphia University, Charles H. “Charlie” Bernier spent nine years working for insurance companies prior to joining ECBM in 1984. Bernier relied on his expertise to start-up the transportation practice at the firm. After successfully building that practice, he was asked to become the executive vice president of ECMB. In 1998, Bernier was named president of the firm.

When the owner of the ECBM decided he wanted to retire, Bernier agreed to purchase the firm. Since taking ownership of ECBM, Bernier has inspired and directed the growth of the agency by having its team of professionals focus its energy on the protection and preservation of assets for firms with significant liability exposures.

Under Bernier’s leadership, ECBM has not only developed service capabilities, but also has established high standards and methods for monitoring consistent delivery of the services it promises to its clients.

Bernier studied business administration at PhilaU. He has also earned designations in chartered property and casualty underwriting and risk management. He serves as a board member on several business and charitable organizations, including the Philadelphia University Advancement Council.

James L. Hamling
Chief Executive Officer of Berwind Group

James L. (Jim) Hamling is the former chief executive officer of Berwind Corporation and Elmer’s Products, Inc. With more than 30 years of leadership experience at Berwind, Hamling cemented the company’s legacy as a leader in private investment management and displayed his vast array of business expertise.

After beginning his career in various leadership positions at Carnation Corporation, Maremont Corporation, GE Interlogix Inc., Mikron Infrared Inc. and Niagara Thermal Products, Hamling joined Berwind in 1977 as president of its subsidiary company, Perfect Equipment Corporation. In 1981, Hamling was appointed president of Berwind Industrial Products Company, and he was appointed president and CEO of Berwind Industries in 1988.

In 1996, he was appointed to the position of President of Berwind Operating Group. Also in 1996, he joined Berwind’s Board of Advisors and was named a trustee. From 2001 to 2006, Hamling served as Berwind’s CEO, and from 2007 to 2011, he was CEO of one of Berwind’s consumer products companies, Elmer’s Products, Inc.

Over the years, Hamling has served on the board of several non- profit organizations. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Aurora University.

Bud Konheim
Chief Executive Officer of Nicole Miller, Ltd.

Known as “The Sage of Seventh Avenue,” Bud Konheim partnered with Nicole Miller in 1982 to create one of the most iconic and successful brands in the world of fashion. Over his career spanning more than 55 years in fashion, Konheim has proven to be a trendsetter on the business side of the industry.

Nicole Miller, Ltd. was one of the first companies to embrace the potential of online shopping through The company continues to boast an avid following of hundreds of thousands of customers and fans on its social media sites.

The Nicole Miller brand can also be found in boutiques around the world and at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, not to mention on some of Hollywood’s hottest stars. Throughout the years, the designer’s apparel has been worn by celebrities Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Helen Hunt, Angelina Jolie and many others.

Konheim and Miller’s work have positioned the company as a reliable and high-profile force in the industry. In recent years, Konheim has overseen the expansion of the Nicole Miller brand to a full lifestyle line of affordable clothes and accessories sold at J.C. Penney, as well as home furnishings sold at Bed Bath & Beyond. In total, the Nicole Miller brand grosses more than $650 million in annual sales.

Meryl Levitz
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation

In her role as president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC), Meryl Levitz is responsible for building the region’s image and growing its tourism industry, worth $9.3 billion in economic impact. A respected civic leader and consummate convener, Levitz has spent more than 30 years working to get Philadelphia’s hospitality industry recognized as a viable and vibrant one. In 2011 alone, the region welcomed 38 million domestic visitors—11 million more leisure visitors than in 1997 when GPTMC first started marketing.

After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, Levitz began her career as an educator. She soon found herself promoting her adopted town of Philadelphia, first as co-founder of the Center City Proprietors Association in 1978 and later at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PCVB), where she oversaw the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, opened the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and developed annual celebrations. In all of her positions, Levitz has established herself as a thought leader and cultural champion focused on image-building and branding, economic development and civic engagement, determined to make Philadelphians proud of and passionate about the place they call home.

Robert C. Lockyer
Executive Director of Thomas Wynne, L.P. and Merloc Partners, L.P.

Robert C. “Bob” Lockyer serves as the executive director of Thomas Wynne, L.P. and Merloc Partners, L.P., firms primarily invested in multi-family housing and development. Lockyer stepped in to help his mother run the family business after his stepfather passed away—she had already been with the business for 40 years.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Lockyer has served as a model alumnus of Philadelphia University, where he received his undergraduate degree. Lockyer currently serves on the Philadelphia University Board of Trustees, and he has been an active supporter of the University’s athletic department. He helped to found the University’s Annual Golf Invitational and purchased the University’s rowing team their first eight-woman shell.

He also established a scholarship at PhilaU for underprivileged minority students. Lockyer’s generosity has served to support countless educational opportunities in the Philadelphia region.

Lockyer is also a partner of the Chesapeake Bay Golf Clubs in Northeast and Rising Sun, Maryland, and he serves on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the church of his youth. The 150-year-old historic church was in danger of closing its doors and threatened to close permanently, but Lockyer was a key member in effecting its turnaround.

Sean Lockyer
Founder of Sean Lockyer AR+D, LLC

After earning his bachelor of architecture degree from Philadelphia University in 1999, Sean Lockyer began his career as a designer for Klett Organization Architects. At Klett, he worked with local developers on historical renovation projects, including the restoration and renovation of a Furness/Hewitt designed estate. He was also involved with the documentation, planning and reconstruction of several historically significant buildings.

Lockyer later worked in the New Orleans office of Rozas-Ward Architects as a designer and project manager before deciding to start his own firm, Sean Lockyer AR+D, LLC. Inspired by the architectural styles of California with modern influences such as Neutra, Frey, Morphosis, Eric Owen Moss, Lotek and more, Sean Lockyer AR+D explores everything the west coast has to offer in the way of art and architecture. Based in California’s Coachella Valley, Lockyer’s firm builds on the rich history of modern architecture in the area.

Currently, Sean Lockyer AR+D handles the design and building of various residential and commercial projects. Designs are focused in a contemporary architectural style that explores and incorporates today’s modern materials and construction methods in a way that responds to various social and environmental issues. The firm’s current projects include a renovation to the Stroke Recovery Center, a custom residence adjacent to the historic Albert Frey house, and a 6,000 sq. ft. custom home in the exclusive Las Palmas area. Serving as a designer, project manager and general contractor, Lockyer works closely with clients and contractors seeing projects through from concept to completion.

Carole C. Wedge
President of Shepley Bulfinch

Carole C. Wedge, president of architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch, has designed some of the most innovative and striking buildings on college and university campuses across the country.Beginning her college career as a biology major, Wedge later found her passion for architecture and design. With her previous background in science, she has been a leading proponent of sustainable and environmentally conscious architectural work.
With a passion for designing libraries, Wedge has overseen a long list of iconic academic buildings, including three on Philadelphia University’s campus: the Paul J. Gutman Library (1992), The Kanbar Campus Center (2006) and the transformative DEC Center (2012). The 38,500 square-foot DEC Center—which houses the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce— is one of the most innovative buildings in higher education today. Built specifically to complement the award-winning Kanbar College curriculum, the building boasts flexible workspaces that can be reconfigured to suit the collaborative learning taking place inside.

Wedge’s recognizable work can also be found on many additional campuses, including the iconic Firestone and Marquand libraries at Princeton University, the McMahan Student Center at Saint Peter’s University and the Georgetown Law Sports & Fitness Center.

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