The Da Vinci Science Center bestowed its highest honor on its Founding Chairman Saturday evening during its record-breaking 2016 gala.
J. Robert Lovett, Ph.D., received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award before a packed ballroom as part of the 2016 Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Gala held at the Renaissance Allentown Hotel. Lovett, a former Executive Vice President for Air Products, was honored for nearly 20 years of leadership that shaped the Center’s emergence as an independent nonprofit organization, its 2003 merger with Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse, Inc. (LDVHI), and the construction of its current facility in Allentown, Pa. – three achievements which have been highly influential to its present success.
Lovett’s award was sponsored by the Da Vinci Science Center Board of Trustees and was presented by Center CEO Lin Erickson and Board Chairman Vincent Sorgi – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of PPL, the gala’s Presenting Sponsor. The presentation included a tribute video featuring Edward Donley – a former President and Chairman of Air Products, a celebrated education philanthropist, and previous Da Vinci Science Center Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.
“The Da Vinci Science Center’s impact is in a significant way a lasting tribute to Bob Lovett’s commitment to science education, youth, and our community – a commitment he demonstrates more than anyone I have ever known,” Erickson said. “His is an example of service beyond self that is truly exemplary and inspirational to everyone who been associated with our organization.”
Saturday’s gala also included presentation of 11 additional Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Awards, a cocktail reception, dinner, silent auction, live auction, and special pledge appeal for the Center’s Science Inquiry Fund. Proceeds support the Center’s exhibits and programs that bring science to life for children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status and inspire them to explore the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. All 275 event tickets were sold through sponsorship sales and individual purchases, and the Center drew the most sponsorship revenue and special pledge appeal revenue in the event’s history, Erickson said.
Bob Lovett has been a Da Vinci Science Center Trustee since Sept. 1997, while it was incubated at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Lovett led a group of influential community members who helped the Center become an independent nonprofit in 1999 and served as its Chairman from 1999-2001. Bob Lovett and his wife, Sandra, also have served on several Center committees; have sponsored a number of exhibits, programs, and events; and were among the top capital donors for the Center’s facility built in 2005. Bob and Sandra Lovett hold one of only five memberships in The Founder’s Society – the Da Vinci Science Center’s lifetime giving society for individuals, groups, and companies that have provided at least $1 million in support since 2002.
Lovett also has provided his support and board leadership to Cedar Crest College, The Baum School of Art, Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley, and the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority.
PPL commemorated the evening by lighting its iconic Tower Building in purple and yellow, primary colors of the Da Vinci Science Center logo. The building will remain lit in purple and yellow at night through Tuesday.
The gala’s additional honorees included the following:
- Karen S. Angello, Ph.D., former Superintendent of the Allentown School District and a former Center Trustee, recipient of the Spirit of Verrocchio Mentorship Award sponsored by BB&T
- UGI Utilities, Inc., of Reading, Pa., recipient of the Grand Maestro Corporate Award sponsored by Lutron Electronics Company
- Sally Gammon, FACHE, former President and CEO of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, recipient of the Distinguished Female STEM Leadership Award sponsored by David and Pam DeCampli
- Vidhyasai Annem, an eighth grade student at Springhouse Middle School in Parkland School District, recipient of the Young Scientist Award sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific
- Sydney Anderson, a senior at Easton Area High School in Eason, Pa., recipient of a Student Excellence Award sponsored by a group of Easton Area Partners – including J.G. Petrucci Company, City of Easton, Easton Hospital, Steve and Jeanne Follett, Merchants Bank, Norris McLaughlin & Marcus Attorneys at Law, and VM Development Group
- Samuel Li, a senior at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pa., recipient of a Student Excellence Award sponsored by PPL
- Erin Solomon, a senior at Souderton Area High School in Souderton, Pa., recipient of a Student Excellence Award sponsored by Bob and Sandy Lovett
- Yogeshwar Velingker, a junior at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa., recipient of a Student Excellence Award sponsored by Air Products
- Michael Brolly, a wood arts teacher at Moravian Academy, recipient of an Educator Excellence Award sponsored by B. Braun Medical
- Julia Dweck, a gifted and talented specialist at Willow Lane Elementary School in the East Penn School District, recipient of an Educator Excellence Award sponsored by ATAS International, Inc.
- Carla Rodrigues, a second grade teacher at F.A. March Elementary School in the Easton Area School District, recipient of an Educator Excellence Award sponsored by Frank and Yvonne Schweighardt
Da Vinci Science Center Trustees Edith Ritter and the Hon. Jane R. Ervin served as the gala’s Co-Chairs. WFMZ 69 News Reporter Will Lewis was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
Da Vinci Science Center Museum Education Manager Tyler Groft closed the evening with lighthearted science fun by creating a giant indoor cloud by dropping liquid nitrogen at negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit into room-temperature water.
Additional sponsors of the 2016 Da Vinci Science Center Gala were as follows:
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Image Courtesies: Justin Gifford Photography, Lissette Santana, Julia Dweck