Inspiring Future Generations to Embrace Lighting Design

CREW Camp Girls inc

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back.” – First Lady Michelle Obama (2012)

When I first heard the above quote, and speech, by First Lady Michelle Obama I was extremely inspired. The First Lady’s words are a reminder that true success is achieved through giving back and supporting others.  We can grow as individuals and improve our collective future by giving our time and sharing our knowledge and experience.

I am proud to work for a firm, The Lighting Practice, that supports this belief. TLP’s leadership not only supports the education of its employees, but also encourages our participation in teaching opportunities. These opportunities include speaking at professional conferences, community mentoring programs, teaching as Adjunct Professors at local universities, and leading in-house workshops to further our technical and professional skills as a firm. My co-workers fully embrace this belief in education and are always ready to share their time and knowledge with fellow designers, clients, students, and each other.

I am also a proud member of CREW Philadelphia. CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) is an organization dedicated to supporting the growth, development and continued success of women in the commercial real estate industry. Their mission also involves supporting women in the local community. This year, CREW Philadelphia’s 2015/2016 Philanthropic Partner was Girls, Inc. of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey. When I learned CREW Philadelphia was teaming up with Girls, Inc. to create CREW Camp, a week long mentorship program focused on STEM careers for middle school girls ages 11 to 14, I knew it would be an excellent fit for The Lighting Practice. With the support of our President, Helen Diemer, the ladies of TLP and I organized a day of fun and learning.

The Lighting Practice: Design, Tech, and Etiquette

Our plan for the day involved breaking the girls up into three smaller groups. Each group would participate in a unique 30 min workshop and then rotate to the next station. The workshops would focus on three areas we felt were important to understanding lighting design and becoming a successful professional: Design, Tech, and Etiquette

We began the day with Helen Diemer introducing The Lighting Practice and giving the girls some background on what architectural lighting designers do and her own personal career path. The girls then rotated through the three learning sessions: Design, Tech, and Etiquette.

Project Managers Rochelle Spahn and Caitlin Bucari explained the lighting design process and how we collaborate with other firms.  The girls had the opportunity to reimagine the Lit Brothers Building by using yellow colored pencils to indicate where the light illuminates the building’s facade.

Jessica Wickes and Erin McCauley explained the technical side of lighting design with a focus on lighting controls. They used a variety of fixtures and samples to show how light responds to different materials, textures, and colors.

Carly Stern and Lillian Knoerzer led a session on Etiquette. They covered interviewing skills and the importance of communication and collaboration. Carly and Lily acted out a mock interview that illustrated the impact of verbal and non-verbal communication. They also imparted the importance of giving clear direction combined with active listening when working in a group with a fun game.

We ended CREW Camp with pizza, salad, and TLP Quizzo! The winning team received TLP orange ray-ban sunglasses. We had a lot of fun developing the quiz and were impressed by how much the girls remembered, we almost had a three-way tie!

What my coworkers and I could not fully appreciate until after, was how inspired and energized we would all feel. These girls reinforced why we love our jobs. Their enthusiastic participation and insightful questions made an impression on all of us.

“The girls made me proud to be a girl, in general, after this experience. I know they will go on to achieve great things in life.” – Carly Stern

I am extremely grateful for the experience CREW Camp gave me and the opportunity to observe my coworkers passing on their knowledge to a future generation of women professionals. These girls will be leaders, no matter which career path they choose.


Participating firms included Skanska, USA Architects, Wick Fisher White, and Heckendorn Shiles Architects.






TLP ladies in sunglasses