meet the women behind the Lighting Advocacy Letter!

We think women working together will change the world – and the work Alex, Reiko, Melissa, Margie, and Sarah are putting into sustainability may also help save it. As an industry, we have made a significant impact on energy consumption through the shift to predominantly LED specification. But sustainability goes well beyond this and the lighting community has an obligation to understand how else we can improve our impact on the environment. We fully support the conversation mindful Materials is driving. Learn more below about the amazing women leading the charge!

The Lighting Advocacy Letter is an initiative by lighting specifiers to accelerate the sustainability of lighting products. Inspired by the AIA Materials Pledge, the letter is intended to inspire a collective dialogue with the lighting manufacturing community about how to align intent and action around a common framework for material transparency. If you are a lighting designer or specifier, this letter is your opportunity to publicly commit to making more informed material choices and specification changes and supporting an ongoing dialogue with manufacturers to reduce the impacts of the built environment. 

This letter and its signatories are posted on mindful MATERIALS (mM), a neutral space supporting the action behind these public commitments. 

Are you a manufacturer, interested in responding to these letters, being a part of the Pledge dialogue or supporting these efforts generally? Send us a note at with the subject line “Manufacturer Materials Pledge” to learn how you can get involved in our efforts to connect the dots with mindful MATERIALS.

Progress that has been made

  • Over 80 signatories from lighting design firms, architectural firms, & rep agencies since it launched in July of 2021;
  • Toolkit V1 launched in March 2022 at a webinar hosted by mM and the authors of the letter to explain the tools available in the free download to signatories and other interested parties;
  • Toolkit V1.1 launched July 2022 featuring additional resources; 
  • Follow-up Round Table held Oct. 18 for signatories to talk across the table and share their experiences implementing their commitment.

Where we’re going

It’s not too late to take action. Even if you weren’t able to join the first webinars, we encourage you to watch past recordings and join our conversations to advocate for holistic sustainability and health in lighting design. Connect and learn with us at one of our upcoming events!

Together, we’re creating a new future for the industry and elevating the impact of sustainable design practices through the power of transparency.

Name:  Alexandra McDowell Gadawski 
Title:  Associate 
Company:  HMFH Architects

What made you get involved (with the Lighting Advocacy Letter)? 
Collaboration is required to reach the level of change we will need in the built environment and to reach our sustainability goals. The Lighting Advocacy Letter allows specifiers to rally around shared goals and align behind a standard request to manufacturers for increased material transparency.  The letter is a demonstration of strength in numbers, and the number of firms who have signed on to the letter so far is truly inspiring!

Why is this important to you?
I believe we have tremendous power as specifiers, and that every decision is a chance to select a product that can improve the overall sustainability of a project.  Our firm primarily designs public K-12 schools, and we think a great deal about how to ensure that these formative environments are safe, healthy, and conducive to learning. Material transparency is the foundation that allows us to select healthy materials for the buildings we are designing.  

What do you want to see this achieve in the future?
I hope that in the future material transparency documentation will be available for all architectural products, including lighting. This will allow designers to select products that align with both firm values and project sustainability goals. 

Name:  Reiko Kagawa
Title:  Principal
LC, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, WELL Faculty, Fitwel Ambassador
Company:  Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting 

What made you get involved (with the Lighting Advocacy Letter)? 
We always approached wholistic sustainable design with all of the tools available.  However, information on material transparency was always in the shadow of the complex assembly of lighting products.  When we realized this is a big part of the puzzle to address well-rounded sustainable design, we thought it was our responsibility to advocate for the importance of material transparency.  This missing piece of information will become a powerful tool to make informative decisions.

Why is this important to you?
The word ‘Sustainability’ implies keeping the state at a certain level.  This means we have to maintain resources for the next generation.  We must make choices that are thoughtful for the next generation.  The LAL is a first step to make responsible choices regarding your design selection, in this case our lighting specification.  This is my choice to help sustain our resources for our children.   

What do you want to see this achieve in the future?
I hope to see all lighting products use responsible materials and disclose what materials are used in the products.  I cannot wait to see this as a standard practice!  

Name:  Melissa Mattes
Title:  Senior Lighting Designer & Sustainability Specialist
LC, LFA, Living Future Ambassador, LEED Green Assoc., Assoc. IALD
Company:  Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting 

What made you get involved (with the Lighting Advocacy Letter)?
In September of 2020, Sladen Feinstein wrote a letter from our office to lighting manufacturers expressing our desire for greater insight into the human, climate, and social impacts of the products we were specifying.  Simultaneously, we collected data back from the manufacturers on their current level of knowledge and understanding of the existing labels available for products on the market today as well as manufacturers’ projected product development goals related to human, climate, and social impacts with a special focus on material transparency. 

In February of 2021, we publicly shared the story of our letter along with the results of the manufacturer survey at a webinar co-hosted by our local IES chapter and Built Environments +.  Following the webinar, a handful of industry designers approached us about rolling out a national version of the letter showing the collective voice of the industry to build upon this momentum.  Mindful Materials was engaged and together in July of 2021, the Lighting Advocacy Letter was written and launched as a national initiative.

Why is this important to you?
From the inception of this movement, the motive has always been very personal for me.  In 2019, I was going through a process of aligning my perceived values with my practiced values, carefully combing through my personal life to evaluate where there was room for greater alignment and authenticity between what I believed and how I lived in my day-to-day life.  After a sweep through my personal life at home, this naturally evolved into the same evaluation of my professional practices in the workplace.  Approaching our leadership team about how we were specifying product and writing a letter to manufacturers stating our values as a firm was a logical continuation of the journey I was on.  As my personal and professional story continue to evolve, watching this bloom into a collective community movement has been a great source of joy for me over the last several years.  

What do you want to see this achieve in the future?
I hope to see our collective voice as a design community trigger a revolution in supply chain innovation, awareness, and transparency.  I hope manufacturers are inspired by our collective cooperation to find their own unified voice amongst the manufacturing community and put pressure back on supply chain niche industries to create a major shift in the status quo of material ingredient reporting.  Ultimately, I hope our challenge to “business as usual” is a piece of the puzzle that inspires untapped potential for circularity within the practice of lighting design and manufacturing.  

Name: Margie McNally
Title: Interior Designer
Company: Interior Elements

What made you get involved (with the Lighting Advocacy Letter)?
As an interior designer, educator, and consultant, I have been committed to sustainable design for over 30 years. I am dedicated to education on healthy living, indoor environmental quality, universal design, and safety. I wish to stay informed and contribute whatever is helpful to the team in moving this issue awareness forward.

Why is this important to you?
I have had experience with negative health effects in both family members and personally. I believe that toxic materials contribute to the proliferation of human illness in our world and that education and advocacy are the keys to informing others about making better choices in materials and lighting products. Other factors including pollution and climate change are consequences as well. 

What do you want to see this achieve in the future?
Industry awareness and change, as well as manufacturers taking responsibility for harmful materials that may be in their products which affect human health. Also, circularity and disposal issues need to be addressed. I would like to see choices being made available to designers and consumers with cost not being a barrier. 

Name:  Sara Schonour
Title:  Lighting Cheerleader
Company:  Lytei

What made you get involved (with the Lighting Advocacy Letter)?
I believe designers have both a professional responsibility and an enormous opportunity to help slow (and hopefully reverse) climate change. Designers of the built environment sit in a powerful role, and the decisions they make have profound ripple effects. Building awareness around the ways choices about lighting affect people and the planet resonates deeply with me on multiple levels.

Why is this important to you?
Because the climate crisis is one of the most important issues of our time.

What do you want to see this achieve in the future?
I’d like owners, designers, reps, and manufacturers to understand what choices are available to advance more sustainable lighting practices, and to embrace progress and start prioritizing products and practices that move towards a more sustainable future.

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