ALA to Present 2024 Women in Lighting Leadership Award to Hubbardton Forge CEO Maria Mullen

The American Lighting Association’s (ALA) Women in Lighting (WIL) Committee has announced that the 2024 recipient of the Women in Lighting Leadership Award (WILLA) is Maria Mullen, CEO of Hubbardton Forge. The award will be presented during Lightovation in Dallas at the Women in Lighting reception, 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, in the Artcraft Lighting showroom (TM 3501).

The WILLA recognizes one woman annually for her role in at least two of the following activities within the past two years:

  • Achievement/leadership in the lighting industry
  • Mentoring of other women in the industry
  • Devotion to community through philanthropy, volunteer work or outstanding active support/participation
  • Support of ALA

The recipient must be a member of ALA, nominated by an ALA member, and voted upon by the WIL Committee.

“Maria’s devotion to her community and years of charitable activity makes us proud to have her as a member of ALA,” says Larry Lauck, ALA President & CEO. “Currently, Maria serves ALA as a member of the Marketing & PR Committee as well as the Product Data Standard Committee. She has helped strengthen the association through her years of involvement and support of the entire lighting industry.”

“Maria Mullen is simply the best of the best,” says Bulbrite President Cathy Choi, WIL co-chair and a WILLA past recipient. “She is a fearless leader who is committed to success in everything she does —whether in her company, the industry, or her community. Maria always takes the time to invest in people and really listens, a sign of true leadership. It is my great honor to call Maria a friend and I am so thrilled she is being recognized for her many contributions to the lighting industry at large.”

Mullen assumed the role of President & COO of Hubbardton Forge in 2020 and was quickly promoted to CEO five months later. Widely known and respected in the lighting industry, she held various leadership roles at Murray Feiss during her 11-year tenure there that began in 1998, culminating as President of Feiss/Monte Carlo before the New York company moved to Skokie, Illinois.

“Maria is an extraordinary talent who has made her career exceptional in the lighting industry,” says Murray Feiss, who is now retired and was inducted into the ALA Lighting Hall of Fame in 2005. “She is brilliant and forceful, and she deserves every honor the lighting industry chooses to bestow upon her.”

Mullen led sales efforts for four years at The Uttermost Co. before starting Kalizma, a company offering turnkey design-through-production sourcing of lighting, developing collections for numerous brands. Already an award-winning and venerable brand when Mullen arrived, Hubbardton Forge added three additional ARTS Awards to its trophy case under her guidance.

This year, she was honored personally with the ARTS Academy of Achievement Award and was elected to chair the DMC’s Lighting Board of Governors, becoming the first woman to serve in that capacity.

“Maria is a worthy recipient of the ALA Women in Lighting Leadership Award for many reasons,” says DMC CEO Cindy Morris. “She is a shining star representing women in lighting. She entered a male-dominated industry over 25 years ago and quickly rose to key executive positions with a unique understanding of sales, product design, manufacturing, merchandising, and company leadership. Additionally, one of Maria’s greatest assets is her heart, and how she mentors and gives back. Her unique combination of leadership and passion are respected by the industry and make her an obvious choice for this accolade.”

Mullen’s most passionate charitable endeavor has been her service on the board of directors for The H Foundation, which has raised more than $12 million for cancer research. She attends and actively supports the foundation’s annual Goombay Bash, taking place this year July 27 in Chicago. In 2019, Mullen received The H Foundation’s Guiding Light Award, recognizing an individual or company in the lighting industry making consistent and enduring efforts to find a cure for cancer. In 2021, in honor of her friend Karen Krieger, Mullen and The H Foundation launched a special fund to raise awareness and money for research into BRCA gene mutations that contribute to breast and ovarian cancer risk.

“My wish for every human being is that they have a Maria in their life,” says manufacturer representative John Anhut, President of Anhut & Associates. “Maria is one of the most competent people I have ever met. She was born with an intuition that is always spot on. She can easily assess a situation and develop creative strategies to provide solutions. Because she leads from the heart with great intelligence, she instills loyalty amongst every team that she interacts with. She is not afraid of challenging her friends or business associates. There have been many times that I did not like what she said to me, but in the end, she gave me sound advice. If I didn’t follow her advice, I usually regretted it.”

In addition to Choi, other past WILLA recipients include Laurie Gross, President of Gross Electric; Kellee Hollenback Hammond, VP/Sales for Varaluz; Jilla Farzan, Executive Vice President & founder of Nora Lighting; and Norma Cooper, founder of Lighting Etc.

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