St. Thomas alumni have been honored for achievements as entrepreneurs by the John M. Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship in the Opus College of Business.
Luigi Bernardi ’85, ’89 M.B.A.; Ada’s Trust and Investment Inc., owned and operated by a family of St. Thomas alumni; and Lynn Casey ’85 M.B.A. received awards Nov. 19 in the 26th annual entrepreneur awards ceremony held in Schulze Grand Atrium at the School of Law.
Bernardi, president of Aurora Investments LLC, a real estate development firm based in Edina, received the John F. Cade Award for outstanding achievement as an entrepreneur. The award is named for Cade, a 1970 alumnus who founded Cade Industries and provided engineering, manufacturing and design services to aerospace industries. He died in an airplane accident in 1986.
Bernardi worked for Benetton, an Italian retail clothier, before joining the family business to work with his father, Tony. The firm specializes in retail, medical and multi-family developments; its latest project is Aurora on France, a 195-unit senior assisted living facility in Edina.
The Bernardi family has long been involved with St. Thomas. Under the leadership of the late Tony Bernardi, the family made a 1999 gift that became the university’s Bernardi Campus in Rome. Nicole Bernardi, Luigi’s wife, is a member of the Center for Catholic Studies board at St. Thomas and their two daughters, Francesca and Antonella, are St. Thomas students.
Ada's Trust and Investment, a firm that has operated in the U.S. territory of Guam for more than 50 years, received the Family Business Award.
Pedro “Sonny” Ada, president of the firm and a 1983 St. Thomas alumnus, accepted the award on behalf of his family. His father, Pedro “Pete” Ada, founded the firm, which has been a major developer of properties in Guam, after graduating from St. Thomas in 1953.
A daughter, Maria, is a 1986 M.B.A. alumna of St. Thomas and serves on the Ada board. A grandson, Nathan, is a freshman at St. Thomas.
Casey, president of PadillaCRT, a Minneapolis-based communications company, received the Entrepreneur Alumna of the Year Award.
She joined Padilla Speer Beardsley, then a public relations agency, in 1983 and became its chief executive officer in 2003. She led its transformation into a full-service communications company, PadillaCRT, which is one of the nation’s top 10 independent agencies in size, as measured by the industry. PadillaCRT is fully owned by employees in offices in six cities.
Casey has been active in the civic and philanthropic communities. She is board chair of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and is on the board of the University of Minnesota Foundation. She is a former chair of the Minneapolis Foundation and the Meet Minneapolis boards.
“What an inspiring group of award winners,” Angela Selden ’87, a member of the Opus College of Business Strategic Board of Governors and master of ceremonies for the awards dinner, told the audience. “Their passion to make a difference, their perseverance to embrace the unknown and the deep sense of purpose their bring to their work and life is extraordinary.”