Carol Lavin Bernick, an accomplished businesswoman, philanthropist, alumna and longtime supporter of Tulane, has been appointed chair-elect of the Board of Tulane, the university’s main governing body, effective July 1, 2019. Bernick will begin her three-year term as Board Chair on July 1, 2020. She will succeed Douglas Hertz, who has served as Board Chair since 2017.
“The success trajectory created by President Fitts, his strong leadership team, the Board and previous board chairs has produced powerful, positive results for all aspects of the Tulane community – its academics, its finances and its contributions to the community,” said Bernick, who has served on the Tulane Board, as both a member and former vice chair, for well over a decade. “I am excited for the opportunity to work with all these talented people to continue to extend the creativity and growth of their initiatives.”
Bernick, who will be the second woman to lead the Board of Tulane in the university’s 185-year history, is CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management, a privately held company that manages diversified investments. She also owns operating companies in retail and professional sports and is the founder of Enchanted Backpack, which provides school supplies, books and winter coats to over 20,000 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students annually. In addition, Bernick heads her family’s foundations, which focus primarily on education, health care, women’s issues and the prevention of childhood drowning. Support from the foundations include the construction of Tulane’s Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life and a $5 million pledge to support Tulane’s faculty.
“Carol Lavin Bernick’s support and devotion to Tulane is legendary,” said Tulane President Mike Fitts. “As one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs and business innovators, her experience, wisdom and vision will prove invaluable in empowering Tulane’s mission as a top-tier academic and research university.”
Bernick spent 37 years in key executive roles at the Alberto Culver Company, where she created iconic brands such as Static Guard and Mrs. Dash, among others. She led the Alberto Culver Consumer Products business for over 10 years and succeeded her father as executive chairman in 2004. In 2011, she initiated and oversaw the sale of the company to Unilever.
Among her various community commitments, Bernick is a board member, and immediate past chair, of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, a board she has served on for 23 years. She also has served on the board of Northwestern University, including 10 years spent on the executive committee of the Global Advisory Board of the Kellogg School of Management. Bernick serves on the executive committee of the Chicago Community Trust, among others, and she founded the Friends of Prentice, a volunteer group of executives and professionals that has raised tens of millions of dollars for Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital to benefit infant and women’s health.
Bernick has been named National Working Mother of the Year by the Moms in Business Network. She holds an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Lewis University and has been honored by Athena International and Legal Momentum for her role in mentoring and advancing women’s careers. She has three married children — two of whom are Tulane graduates — and seven grandchildren ages 5 and under.
She recently authored Gather As You Go: Sharing Lessons Learned Along The Way, a book featuring over 300 stories that share wisdoms gleaned from her professional, philanthropic and personal life experiences. In addition to its retail sales, over 15,000 copies of Gather As You Go have been distributed to universities, nonprofits, corporations and education-based organizations across the country. Net proceeds from sales of the book support Enchanted Backpack.