A Magical Night – The 9th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards

Lifetime Achievement Awards honorees

Over 140 people gathered on Monday night at Parson’s School of Design for EdisonReport’s 9th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards, where we honored twelve giants of the industry.

Frank Conti, introduced and celebrated by his wife, Joanne Conti:  “The Godfather of lighting,” Frank Conti started Enterprise Lighting, which got its name from the USS Enterprise, on which he proudly served. Among his numerous achievements, Frank served two terms as president of IES, the only person to do so. Frank’s wife, Joanne, gave a touching tribute, saying, “Frank always reminded people that you don’t work a day in your life if you love what you do.  And Frank exemplified that.” She closed by saying, “I couldn’t ask for a better husband, partner and friend, and I love you.”

Bob Shook, introduced by Jim Baney:  Robert Shook, FIALD and FASTC, founded Schuler Shook in 1986 with Duane Schuler. Since then, the firm has grown to six offices across the world. “I could recount Bob’s many accomplishments, but instead I’d like to highlight some qualities that Bob possesses that don’t show up on a CV,” Jim said, acknowledging what makes Bob not just a great designer, but a great husband, and friend. Bob highlighted the designers, manufacturers, and reps he has worked with over the years as being instrumental in his success.

Caroline Rinker, celebrated by James O’Blaney:  “This is nowhere near enough time to get into who and what, but at least you’ll get a taste and understand why Caroline is receiving this award,” James began. Born and raised in the Bronx, she found a position at Lighting Associates after college, working with Frank Conti, who quickly saw how talented she was. “She learned an industry so well, she knew it in braille,” James explained. “Her toughness and tenderness were a unique blend.”

Paul Gregory, introduced by Brett Andersen:  Paul has spent over 50 years in the lighting industry, creating multiple successful lighting companies and designing over a thousand projects. “But the accomplishment that is most meaningful is his ability and desire to constantly be sharing his knowledge with his colleagues,” Brett noted. Paul reminisced on his great career, concluding, “Those are the people that inspired me, and you all are the people to inspire the next group. That’s just about our most important task.”

Janet Lennox Moyer, introduced by John Tremaine:  “At the very core of Jan’s soul, she is an incredibly gifted teacher. Teachers use textbooks to teach, and when Jan realized none existed for landscape lighting, she wrote her own, The Landscape Lighting Book,” John explained. The only thing Janet ever failed at was retirement – after retiring from a business collaboration with Jim Benya in the late ‘80s, she set out to share her landscape lighting knowledge and went on to become the legend that she is today.

Kim Mercier, introduced by Shirley Coyle:  “Kim has the type of mind that relentlessly delves into important issues, be they technical, organizational, or social,” said Shirley. Kim has spent her career skillfully bridging the technical and creative aspects of light. “Light is a science, but science is not enough. Art has intrinsic value, it makes science better. Our experience tells me that the defense of the value of light’s art to its science will be our next front,” Kim implored.

Donald Dunn, celebrated by John Szlag:  Donald was born in 1923, just outside of Pittsburgh. He served in the war as a platoon leader for the 10th Mountain Division. In April of 1950, with $9,000 in his pocket, Donald invested in a small extrusion business. And thus his career with Plaskolite was born, and he went on to grow the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of lighting lenses.

Faith Baum, introduced by Ken Douglas:  Faith’s career in lighting began with The Mintz Lighting Group in 1984. In 2004, she started the design firm Illumination Arts. When the firm merged with HLB Lighting Design in 2018, it gave Faith the opportunity to focus once again on what she truly loves – building and developing relationships and mentoring young designers. “You have two legacies – one is your body of work, and the other is the people you’ve mentored.” In both respects, Faith’s long career exemplified a commitment to both of these things.

Craig Bernecker, introduced by Kevin Houser:  “His passion for lighting, especially the psychological aspects of light, lit within me an excitement that has fueled my entire career,” Kevin opened. Among numerous accomplishments, Craig has helped developed two university lighting programs that are widely regarded as the best in the world. “Good architecture poorly lit is poor architecture,” Craig said, showcasing his passion for exceptional lighting design – a passion that he has spent his career sharing with others.

Dan Blitzer, introduced by Janet Lennox Moyer:  Janet began, “I’ve known Dan from the start of his career. He had an appropriate modesty and, more importantly, a lot of curiosity, passion, and dedication.” These qualities have driven Dan throughout his career, which began with Lightolier in San Francisco in 1979. Despite his numerous accomplishments, Dan noted, “ The connections I’ve made far outweigh any achievement.”

Jimalee Beno, introduced by Steven Rosen:  Jimalee recently took over as Vice President – Strategy of the Lighting Sector of Legrand North and Central America, the latest in a long list of accomplishments. In her childhood, her father told her, “You can stand on your head for a year if you need to.” While she found out that wasn’t literally true, her unrelenting attitude has driven her to success at every stop. And when Steven told the crowd, “Raise your hand if your life has been affected by Jimalee Beno,” the majority of the hands in the room went up.

Gary Steffy, introduced and celebrated by Lance Bennett:  “Gary’s technical ability is renowned by his colleagues,” Lance remarked, recounting an anecdote of Gary spending hours on a mockup to accurately calculate a surface’s reflectance value. “But, if you thought Gary’s work was all about engineering, you would only know half the story.” Gary has succeeded at the formidable task of fusing technical knowledge with artistic creativity throughout his illustrious career.

Because of the generosity of this year’s sponsor, QTL, and this year’s host, Parsons, EdisonReport was able to use the proceeds from the event to give back to the lighting industry, donating $1,000 to Parsons, $500 to IES, $500 to IALD, $500 to the Business of Light, $500 to WILD, $500 to the NLB, and $500 to the Nuckolls Fund. And that was dwarfed by an amazing contribution of $5,000 by the Contis, which will be paid forward to special causes like these.

EdisonReport would like to sincerely thank the master of ceremonies, Lance Bennett, the event’s sponsor, QTL, and our host, Parsons School of Design.  We would also like to thank this year’s judges: Steven Rosen, Donnie Wall, and Shirley Coyle.  Thanks to all who attended and made this a memorable night.