Category: Women In Lighting

An Interview with Christina Halfpenny – Diversity, Inclusion & Culture at DLC

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Halfpenny about her approach to women in leadership positions, at the Design Lights Consortium (DLC), and on the subject more broadly.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Halfpenny about her approach to women in leadership positions, at the Design Lights Consortium (DLC), and on the subject more broadly. There are a large number of very accomplished women in leadership positions at the DLC – many brought on board after Christina Halfpenny became Executive Director in 2015. DLC has grown into an independent international non-profit that drives energy efficiency and connected building solutions through solid-state lighting and controls, across North America. Halfpenny has been a strong advocate for diversity and representation on panels at every DLC meeting for the past several years, and in the imagery the organization uses on its website and in materials.

Of the DLC’s 21-member staff, more than half (12) are women, including Dorene Maniccia and Leora Radetsky, both with numerous published papers to their names, and Bernadette Boudreaux who co-leads a Diversity Equity Inclusion and Respect (DEIR) in Lighting Working Group, with the DOE. Also, Liesel Whitney-Schulte has over 20 years of experience working on utility energy efficiency programs and collaborating with lighting designers to create programs that simultaneously fit utility goals and promote quality lighting design. Bios of all the women on the DLC team are here: https://www.designlights.org/about-us/team/.

Shiller: More than 50% of DLC’s staff are women, despite the lighting industry historically being male-dominated. What advice do you have for other lighting industry executive leaders in a position to increase women’s representation, as well as diversity in hiring of all kinds (gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.)?

Halfpenny:  It isn’t just executive leaders in a position to hire women and diverse people. Every person in the hiring process can influence the diversity of their team, their vendors and suppliers, as well as leadership. Inclusion of people on hiring teams and questions from staff for prospective employees can help not only get a view into the organization’s dynamics, challenges and priorities, but also provide a relevant assessment of culture fit. These things can be overlooked if we are not taking a deliberate approach towards diversity in our hiring methods. With the ongoing changes in lighting and the industry, it’s an opportune time to prioritize diversity for the variety of perspective and experience that comes with a diverse team. There is always room for women and diversity in leadership; on Boards and in executive functions, but truly valuing diversity happens when space is made for diversity at all levels of the company.

Shiller: DLC has many recognized industry thought leaders on its staff, both women and men. Do you have any advice to other executives on recruiting and retaining elite industry talent, both women and men?

Halfpenny: On their behalf, thank you for the recognition. We are fortunate to have (and had) people on staff who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about lighting and protecting the environment. Our team thrives on making a positive impact, and these folks leave their marks on the work we do and affect colleagues and peers in positive ways.

Ultimately, personal fulfillment leads to job retention. Look at the statistics of how many people recently left their jobs for something that paid less but provided more meaning and balance for them. Individuals also need to know that their contributions are valued by the company, however, we all know that individual performance is not the sole driver for success. I find that fulfillment from work comes not only from enjoying the actual work, but also the people.

Leadership at the DLC sets expectations for the entire team to contribute value and exchange ideas and feedback in a productive and respectful way. We prioritize an organizational culture that enables and supports collaboration, and collectively celebrates success, so that leading and learning are simultaneous for individual satisfaction and collective success.

Shiller: Are there ways that having a majority women staff has been advantageous to DLC? How has it changed the culture at DLC?

Halfpenny: Yes! As far as a change in culture at the DLC, we have always been a majority of women or 50%, and we have benefitted from a culture of support and respect. That culture generates increased capacity to listen and consider the impacts of our work on our stakeholders. While we prioritize collaboration internally, that resonates with our work externally with members, industry experts and stakeholders, which a key success factor for a Consortium.

In addition, having a balance of women in the organization brings more honesty about life outside of work.  For whatever reason, women are still juggling the majority of the home life – sick kids (and parents), doctor appointments, school activities, carpools, etc. – and we need to normalize that as a part of our lives. I hope if women can normalize it in leadership positions, and throughout the workplace, then men can too, and we will all benefit from a genuine work life balance.

Shiller: What’s your view of current efforts to increase women’s representation in lighting leadership positions? There are a couple organizations now working toward this goal (i.e. WILD, WIL, etc.)? Do you see specific women’s challenges that aren’t yet being addressed, in the lighting industry, that need to be addressed?

Halfpenny: Many of the women’s representation groups are providing much needed resources for mentoring, strategies to succeed and gaining visibility, particularly for younger women. There should be more efforts focused on inclusion and support to ensure that women and underrepresented groups have the resources they need to grow and be successful.

I do see many groups working on diversity who are made up of the diverse people themselves and that’s a little frustrating to see them doing all the work in this area. There have been a few changes in highly visible positions in the industry for women and diverse people, so change is happening, but we can’t lean on the minority to make it so. Everyone has a role to play in the change. As I mentioned previously, it’s in the hiring process, the procurement process and the values that shape the business culture.

Shiller: Thank you, Christina, for sharing your thoughts and expertise with our LightNOW readers.

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Two Upcoming Events Focused On Women In Lighting

Here are two upcoming events advancing the agenda of women in the lighting industry. Representing two very different channels: electrical distribution and hardware & building supply.

Here are two upcoming events advancing the agenda of women in the lighting industry. Representing two very different channels: electrical distribution and hardware & building supply:

  1. Women In Industry Forum, June 27-29, 2022, in Bonita Springs, FL. NAED’s Women in Industry Forum provides an environment for female professionals within electrical distribution to take steps toward advancing their careers by leveraging educational opportunities. Additional information is available here.
  2. Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply, November 8-9, 2022, in Chicago, IL. The HBSDealer Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply program honors women making outstanding contributions to their companies and their communities. Additional information about last year’s event is available here.
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Lighting Designer Donates $25K Endowment To Establish Penn State University Student Emergency Fund

Beyond the already costly rates of college tuition and housing, students may have unexpected expenses, from repairing a car to an extra charge for enhanced educational experiences. To support Penn State University students in such circumstances, Helen and Rob Diemer created the self-named Student Emergency Fund in the Department of Architectural Engineering. 

Beyond the already costly rates of college tuition and housing, students may have unexpected expenses, from repairing a car to an extra charge for enhanced educational experiences. To support Penn State University students in such circumstances, Helen and Rob Diemer created the self-named Student Emergency Fund in the Department of Architectural Engineering.

Helen and Rob, who both earned their Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degrees from Penn State in 1981, said that the architectural engineering department was integral to their growth — and with their $25,000 endowment, the couple wants to return the favor.

Upon graduating from Penn State, Helen and Rob started work at a consulting engineering firm in Minneapolis. The couple later moved to New York City where they held numerous positions, including at the Flack + Kurtz engineering firm where Helen worked as director of lighting design services and Rob as an associate principal. Later, Helen began working at The Lighting Practice, becoming a principal in 1996 and majority owner in 2009 before rising to her current role. Rob worked at the AKF engineering firm starting in 1992, eventually becoming a partner and member of the executive committee before retiring in 2020.

Read the full story here.

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Today The Lighting Industry Recognizes International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Women in Lighting + Design (WILD) joins in this celebration to impact positive change for women. You’re invited to help WILD #BreaktheBias today and every day. 

NORTH AMERICA

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Women in Lighting + Design (WILD) joins in this celebration to impact positive change for women. You’re invited to help WILD #BreaktheBias today and every day.

Bias – whether deliberate or unconscious – is holding women back in the workplace. It makes it harder for women to get hired and promoted, as well as negatively impacting their day-to-day work experiences. This hurts women and makes it harder for companies to level the playing field.

This year’s campaign is Break the Bias. Join WILD each hour at 12PM EST, 12PM CST, 12PM MST, and 12PM PST to discuss a theme on how the industry can #breakthebias as individuals and as a community:

  • 12PM EST: Learn to LEAD by example.
  • 12PM CST: VALUE and celebrate differences.
  • 12PM MST: Build confidence to CONFRONT.
  • 12PM PST: EMPOWER yourself and others.

You’re invited to join for some or all of these conversations. Zoom info here.

INTERNATIONAL

 The Women In Lighting (WIL) Global Gathering is an online event to celebrate International Women’s Day, the 3rd anniversary of the Women In Lighting (WIL) Project, and to connect its growing network and community together.  All are welcome.  It features a selection of sessions themed as follows: Global Light, Global Action, Global Work, and Global Journey.

The event is divided into three parts to ensure presentations from around the world, and enable participation from different time zones.  This event is truly global. Each part will finish with one of their extremely popular Social Roulette sessions, where you can meet and speak to people from all parts of the global community. More information about the WIL Global Gathering is here.

 

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More Women In High Visibility Leadership Roles in 2022

This post was inspired by Laura Van Zeyl’s recent post, in the Women In Lighting Facebook Group. There are a growing number of women rising to high visibility leadership positions in the lighting industry, over the past 12 months.

This post was inspired by Laura Van Zeyl’s recent post, in the Women In Lighting Facebook Group. There are a growing number of women rising to high visibility leadership positions in the lighting industry, over the past 12 months. Here are some examples:

  • AIA’s new CEO is Lakisha Woods, effective 1/31/22. More details, here.
  • Colleen Harper was recently named the new Executive Director for IES, effective March 14, 2022. More details here.
  • IALD’s new President, Monica Luz Lobo, became President-Elect on January 1, 2021, and takes the helm in 2022. More details, here.
  • ALA’s Board of Governors Chair-Elect is Laurie Gross. More details, here.
  • Debra Phillips was appointed as President and CEO of NEMA last fall – read about it here.
  • Linda Longo launched the first issue of US Lighting Trends, as the Founding Managing Editor, in November 2021. More details, here.
  • Wanda Lau, is the new Editorial Director at LEDs Magazine & Smart Buildings Technology, you can read the announcement here.
  • Our own Suelynn Shiller took over as Editor of LightNOW, on January 1, 2022. More details, here.

Do you have any others to add to our list? Comment below.

 

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Nominations Close Soon for WILLA Award

ALA Women In Lighting Leadership Award nominations for 2022 are due by January 31.

The ALA Women In Lighting committee seeks nominations for the ALA Women In Lighting Leadership Award (WILLA) each year to recognize outstanding achievements, mentorship, commitment to community through philanthropy or service, and support of the mission of the ALA. Nominations for the 2022 award are closing on January 31, 2022.

The recipient of the award must be a member of the ALA, nominated by an ALA member, and voted upon by the WIL committee.

The award will be presented during the Lightovation show in Dallas this June.

The nomination form and information about the 2021 WILLA recipient, Cathy Choi of Bulbrite are linked here.

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New Year – New Content

Happy New Year! It is that time of year again. Time for making resolutions, setting intentions and business planning. As the new team at LightNOW, we are excited about our plans…

Happy New Year! It is that time of year again. Time for making resolutions, setting intentions and business planning. As the new team at LightNOW, we are excited about our plans for 2022 and are looking forward to publishing news and information that is relevant, useful, and interesting for you.

In the coming weeks, we will be developing two new content categories for LightNOW  – Women In Lighting and Philanthropy & Community Service. Women in Lighting will focus on the accomplishments of women in the industry and the topics that are important to women in the workplace. We invite you to be in touch with your thoughts on this editorial category. Please send story ideas, recommended articles and other content that relates to women in lighting. Submission information is below.

Philanthropy & Community Service is an opportunity for our industry to share good works and contributions made to non-profits and to communities in need. Did your company donate product to people in Kentucky after the December hurricane? Is your company making a substantial donation to a local charity or national non-profit? Send us your photos and press announcements. We also want to share stories of work teams performing community service. If your team participated in a Day of Caring or other workplace volunteer activity, we would love to hear about the impact of the work on the community, the company, and your staff. See below for submission info.

Please submit press releases, story ideas and recommended articles, as well as relevant photos and images to: Suelynn Shiller, suelynn@lightingsold.com. We welcome your input, feedback, and engagement. Thank you.

 

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