Member of the Month

We are pleased to introduce to our readers the IESNYC Member of the Month, chosen as part of a dedicated team of professionals that represent a cross-section of the lighting industry in New York City. We value their expertise, and thank them for volunteering their time and energy for the betterment of the section.

March 2021

Kelly Roberts
Studio Director, WALD Studio

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
As with so many of us, I came to the architectural lighting community with a theatrical background. Wanting to be involved in some way with my high school theatre productions — but certainly not on the stage — I opted for helping out backstage with scenery and lighting. I still recall sitting at our ancient two-scene preset board and slowly, ever so slowly, shifting the lights to match the mood of the production. Creating the atmosphere, controlling the timing, and selecting the precise instruments instilled in me a passion for lighting. While obtaining my BFA in scenic and lighting design at the University of Connecticut. I started to shift from theatrical design to architectural, spending summers interning at architect offices and architectural lighting design studios in Connecticut. The permanence of architecture was appealing, as was the ability to impact individuals more directly through residential and hospitality work. After graduating in 2006 I moved to New York City, interviewed at WALD Studio, and the rest, shall we say, is history. I’ve now spent over 15 years working with Bill Armstrong and creating a home in the lighting industry. I currently serve as Studio Director, managing day-to-day operations of the firm along with helping with marketing and client outreach. Many of our projects are high-end residential, and I love the direct interactions with those clients and helping them build a home. Some of my favorite public projects include the landmarked interior renovation of 195 Broadway and the Rizzoli Bookstore in New York City and the Asbury Park Hotel, which was part of the Asbury Park, New Jersey revitalization effort.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
Joining the IESNYC is a rite of passage for a member of the lighting industry. The networking and learning opportunities are a huge draw and choosing to join the IESNYC shows an intention to be an active member of our community. My first IESNYC event was likely the Lumen Awards. Although they are design awards, no project is just about the designers - the manufacturers, reps, etc. all play a role in ensuring a project - especially one worthy of a Lumen Award - comes to fruition. One thing I love about the IESNYC is the value it places on collaboration, community-building, and education.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
Being a member of IESNYC allows me the opportunity to create a bridge between other organizations with common goals. As I was exploring networking opportunities in the industry, I also learned of and became involved with Women in Lighting + Design (WILD) ( The IESNYC and WILD share the same goals and vision - creating a more equitable industry and encouraging personal development through education and networking. Both organizations, along with the IALDNY and DLFNY, recently partnered with Equity in Lighting on a survey to study the current demographics of the NYC lighting community. All have pledged to help increase diversity and representation in the lighting industry throughout outreach, education, and inclusion at our events. WILD has also provided me the great pleasure of working closely with Megan Carroll, the new IESNYC vice president. Megan, I, and the rest of our amazing volunteer committee, plan member lunches, mentoring opportunities, and engaging presentations — one of our favorites being our conversation with Rita Harrold, the first woman president of the IES. In addition, we partner with a number of charities throughout the year — and the IESNYC recently supported WILD with a significant $5,000 donation to our fundraiser for Feed the Frontlines, a charity that has sustained New York City through the COVID-19 crisis by serving meals prepared by local restaurants to healthcare workers and New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity. I feel fortunate that being a member of the IESNYC provides a space to share organizations like WILD, and that we are able to work together to create a more vibrant community.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
Hands down, the best asset of the IESNYC is its members. The IESNYC brings together all facets of the lighting industry to create a large, dynamic, and educated community. Members are called on to not only share their knowledge of design, technology, and science, but also give back by volunteering, joining IESNYC committees, and participating in programs. We come together to celebrate each other's successes and to support each other in times of struggle. I am so happy to have found a home in this community and am a proud member of the IESNYC.