By Susanne Seitinger
It’s a truism at this point, but the pandemic has changed how I perceive time. In some ways, the last two years have felt like Groundhog Day—most days are the same, and there are fewer activities like family gatherings and trips to break up the year. In other ways, the daunting challenges of working remotely made simple tasks harder. These latter experiences, though, have taught me a great deal about resilience and just how much teams can achieve. To paraphrase Amanda Gorman’s recent essay in The New York Times about her experience as the inaugural poet: If you feel tired, it’s because you have exerted more effort. However, your weariness shows that you did not simply tread water—you progressed on your journey.
As a Society, we have made significant progress on our journey. Last June we kicked off the process to find a new executive director and, as you know, Colleen Harper started at the IES on March 14. The deliberate process that we followed as a committee—in partnership with search firm, Koya Partners, and the input from staff and volunteers—has yielded an incredible outcome. After casting a wide net for roughly 12 weeks and reviewing hundreds of candidates, Koya Partners put forth a slate of candidates that represented the Society’s values and priorities. Multiple rounds of interviews led to in-person meetings until the committee came to its final decision. We are so lucky to have Colleen, a thinker and a doer who will build upon all the great work that has been done so far. I can’t wait to see her excel. And I know she will be open to and interested in listening to all of our members.
There are many exciting opportunities on the horizon: nurturing our global partnerships, building up our digital Lighting Library®, making LightFair a huge success, growing our educational platforms, making our DEIR efforts come to life and so much more. Among all these, I want to make sure we also focus on our role in renewing America’s infrastructure.
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a game-changer. The pandemic and this bill have led to unprecedented investment in new technology and infrastructure across the country at both state and local levels. As lighting professionals, we must seize this opportunity to demonstrate the importance of quality lighting. For example, in the outdoor application domains, road safety and the protection of natural landscapes are crucial. In the indoor application domains, schools and hospitals stand to benefit from more investment.
We can also leverage this heightened attention on infrastructure to promote how the IES focuses on helping society. In 2020, the IES and the IDA released its simple set of Five Principles of Responsible Outdoor Lighting to capture what matters most for outdoor lighting in the U.S. and beyond. I hope we find similar opportunities to provide starting points for other industry professionals when it comes to quality lighting.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to have served as IES president (2021-2022). I am definitely tired, but I know that together, we accomplished a great deal in the last year. I want to thank the IES staff, my fellow Board members and Interim Executive Director Dan Salinas for their incredible partnership. I have learned so much from all of you.