Bill Hanley, EdisonReport’s 2014 ‘Person of the Year’

William Hanley NOV 2014.jpg
The Illuminating Engineering Society is a very strong and robust organization for many reasons, but perhaps the single most important factor in its strength is the man who has run the day-to-day operations for the past 26 years, Bill Hanley, Executive Vice President, and EdisonReport’s 2014 ‘Person of the Year.’

Bill is a good friend and we have had retirement discussions for a few years.  Our EdisonReport team had agreed about three years ago that Bill would be a ‘Person of the Year’ and we would hopefully be able to time the award with his retirement.  Bill and I discussed his departure date at a face-to-face meeting in September and he told me in confidence it was very likely to occur at the end of the year.  At the IES Annual Conference in November, we discussed it again and he told me 1 DEC would be the date for the announcement.  On 3 DEC we met in his office and again he confirmed that he was ready to make his decision public.    Bill leaves behind a strong legacy filled with many achievements, but he focused the discussion on two areas that seem to give him the most pride:  fixing the Society’s finances and building a world-class team. 

Bill described when he first interviewed for the job 26 years ago.  He really didn’t want it, reluctantly accepted it and found the Society in far worse shape than he had been told. After his first week,  His desire was to quit and return to his previous employer.  He took bold steps, fired people, and began to set IES on a sustainable financial track.  Bill explained, “ The Society was nearly broke and it took many, many years of tough decisions to get the finances back on track.  The issue was wanting to invest in the future, but not having the funds to do much of anything.  It was really touch and go for several years.”

The other significant accomplishment he cited was to build the team of leaders that run the Society today.   Val Landers, Director Member Services, started in JUN 1986; Rita Harrold, Director of Technology, JUN 1992; Bruce Sohl, Controller, SEP 1990; and Paul Tarricone, Editor/Associate Publisher LD+A, MAR 2003.  In addition there are many other key employees and volunteers who work diligently to make the society function.   Bill spoke passionately of the team and feels comfortable leaving the Society in their hands.

“For as long as I’ve been at the LRC, Bill Hanley has been the Executive Director of the IES. Under Bill’s leadership, the IES went from a society with dismal financial prospects to one of health and impact.  As one early example of Bill’s leadership, he gave us the opportunity to edit the 8th Edition of the Lighting Handbook, a significant source of revenue for the IES.  His decision was a significant break with the long-standing tradition at the IES for in-house editing of this essential reference book, and one that helped the IES regain its financial footing. All of us in lighting should tip our collective hat to Bill who provided steady stewardship of the IES for a quarter century. On a personal level, thank you Bill and enjoy the best of health and happiness in the future.” — Mark S. Rea, PhD, Professor and Director, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

“I am truly sorry to learn that Bill Hanley has announced his retirement.  His leadership and calm thoughtful presence has facilitated a remarkable change in the operation and secure financial position the IES now enjoys.  What a pleasant change from the turmoil and insecurity that the society faced during the tenure of a few of our previous executives.  I wish him good health and fulfillment in whatever his next undertaking is.  Thank you Bill, it was a pleasure working with you.”— Howard M. Brandston, FIES, Past President (1983/84)  member of the IES Board 1980 – 1985

On the occasion of Bill’s retirement, I would like to thank Bill for extraordinary service to our Society, and indeed to our industry. Bill brought stability to the organization and the staff that added immensely to our credibility and effectiveness. As we consider ourselves pros in our business, Bill truly was the pro in society management- his business. Everyone in the lighting industry owes Bill Hanley a great deal of gratitude for the service he has done for all of us. As he retires I will miss him as a friend and colleague, and wish him good health and good fortune in his continuing endeavors.Jody Good, Principal- Spectrum Engineers, Inc., President, IES 1998-1999

“William Hanley has been the longest serving IES Executive Vice President since the Society’s founding in 1906, and now that inevitable day has come – he has announced his retirement at the end of December 2014. Oh my–how we will miss him! Many of us credit Bill with the major turnaround of an IES that was in dire need of staff guidance and financial stability. He has been the force that, together with member leaders and talented staff, has built a modern organization that is respected worldwide.

A few weeks ago, the IES magazine LD+A requested that I contribute a few words to an upcoming article about Bill. Hopefully that article will mention the fact that he loves to cook, has a wicked sense of humor, and is as eloquent as they come.  Here is what I wrote:

Just prior to my becoming IES President on July 1, 2001, Bill Hanley and I had a “chat” about our various responsibilities. He led with “I work for you,” and that has always been his philosophy. He has steadfastly respected the elected leadership of the Society, working alongside the members to ensure that the IES became and remained a strong and viable institution. Being a modest man, Bill has never taken credit for what many of us believe were his major accomplishments — putting the IES on a sustainable fiscal path and hiring the best staff on the planet. I cannot imagine where our Society would be had we not hired Bill over two decades ago.

On a personal note, I had the dubious distinction of being President on 9/11. Bill and I were on the phone as the towers collapsed. His top concern was for his staff, and during the evacuation he employed his typical dry humor by telling me that he had finally found good use for those old yellow IES T-shirts — when soaked in water they became excellent breathing aids in the ash-filled air of NYC. In sum, Bill has been a confidant, a mentor, a businessman, an eloquent spokesman, a leader, and most of all, a friend.” — Pam Horner, IES President, 2001-2002

“It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with Bill Hanley as executive colleagues for the past 12 years, him at the helm of IES and myself at IALD. Through many challenges and over 26 years his leadership of IES has been exemplary. While you can never measure how much of a difference someone makes in such a long tenure, the one thing I can say that stands out is that Bill has made an indelible mark upon the lighting industry. He is dedicated and steadfast both as an executive and as a person. He is a credit to the profession and to the industry he has served for so long. I will miss him as a colleague, and I will miss him as a friend.” Marsha L. Turner, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, International Association of Lighting Designers [IALD]

I am reminded of Jimmy Stewart’s role of George Baily in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Where would the IES be today if Bill Hanley did not accept the job 26 years ago?

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