February 2016

Addison Kelly
US Lighting Consultants 

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
Lighting was not my first career choice, but since my father was a lighting designer, it was always part of the background conversation growing up. It was my father’s job, so I naturally assumed that it was boring and extremely uncool. Much later, after years in the graphics/printing field, I received a brochure from Parsons describing its new lighting program, which was then part of the Environmental Design department. Just for fun, I decided to audit the basic lighting course, which was taught by Bob Prouse. That was fun, so I kept on taking courses. Eventually I realized that I had reached a fork in the road. Yogi Berra once advised, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” And so I did.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
Like most of us, I just wasn’t paying attention, and I got sucked into the vortex. Back in 1985, when I was working at one of my first jobs in lighting, my mother and I got invited to IES headquarters for an event that announced that the Richard Kelly Grant was being transformed from a scholarship to a grant. Someone asked if I wanted to become a member of IES, and I was dazzled that they would ask me. Then someone else thrust a pen in my hand, and before I knew it, the deed was done. It was a little like buying a timeshare: one minute you’re eating lunch and the next you’ve got a 30-year commitment.

After I became a member of IES, I was “easy prey.” Jeffrey Milham, who was a teacher of mine at Parsons, served on the Board of Managers of the New York Section, and since I had a background in graphic design, he got me involved working on the newsletter—paper in those days, of course.

Later on, I sat on the Board of Managers as Chair of the Communications Committee, and eventually served as Section President from 1993 to 1995. But even now, I have stayed involved. I am co-Chair, with Bill Maiman, of the History Committee, am member of the NYLC/Lighting 311 Committee, and serve on the Scholarship Committee. At the Society level, I am co-Chair, with Section Vice President Caleb McKenzie, of the Board of Directors of the Richard Kelly Grant.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
I enjoy being an active member of the Section and the Society. To me, one of the greatest things about the IES is that the Society comprises people from all parts of our industry. I really enjoy talking to and learning from the engineers, the reps, the distributors, the contractors, and the fixture designers. It’s important that we share our knowledge and our passion for lighting across job definitions and across generations. I know that I have gotten far more than I’ve given from my years with the IESNYC.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
Well, first of all, I absolutely believe that the Society is the authority on lighting. There are lots of committees and organizations doing research and education, and there are a number of groups that provide opportunities for professional and social networking. But from the very beginning, the IES has incorporated both, which I think makes it very strong. I’m also ridiculously proud that the IES has its roots in New York City. I feel that as a Section, we have a tradition to uphold, to serve as an example of the best we can be.