The American Lighting Association (ALA) Women in Lighting (WIL) Committee has announced that the 2023 recipient of the Women in Lighting Leadership Award (WILLA) will be Laurie Gross, President of Gross Electric and current chair of the ALA Board of Governors.
The award will be presented during Lightovation in Dallas at the WIL fifth anniversary celebration reception at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, in the Kuzco Lighting showroom (TM 4010).
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
- Support of ALA
- Mentoring of other women in the industry
- Devotion to community through philanthropy, volunteer work or outstanding active support/participation
The recipient must be a member of ALA, nominated by an ALA member and voted upon by the WIL Committee.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Laurie,” says ALA President and CEO Larry Lauck. “She has been a true leader and an inspiration for our industry. She has provided ALA with many years of dedicated service in education training, membership recruitment, and financial operations. I have the pleasure of working closely with Laurie as chair of the ALA Board of Governors as we develop new membership initiatives to strengthen the association.”
Since 1993, Gross has helmed Gross Electric, a third-generation family business in Ohio and Michigan that was founded in 1910. An MBA graduate of the University of Michigan, she has worked in various positions at the company for most of her life.
In addition to serving as the current chair of the ALA Board of Governors, Gross participated on the search committee to recommend Eric Jacobson’s successor as ALA President and CEO, resulting in the promotion of Lauck to that role. Gross has also served as board treasurer and an at-large board member. She has chaired the ALA Finance Committee and served on ALA’s Membership Campaign Committee, Showroom Steering Committee, Education Committee, and Education Foundation Board of Trustees.
“Laurie is passionate about our industry and a very astute business owner,” says fellow ALA chair-elect Rick Seidman, president of Quoizel. “She has held leadership positions throughout her career in all areas of her life, including charities, community associations, and likely every organization related to the electrical and lighting industry. Her knowledge and judgment are invaluable. She is a good listener and always a major contributor to the task at hand.”
Known as a champion for the independent showroom channel, Gross has advocated for equitable business practices to enable brick-and-mortar retailers to compete in the industry’s changing landscape. She has also exhibited leadership on behalf of women in the industry, appointing women to head up both Gross Electric’s lighting showroom division and electrical supply division. The only Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC®) in northwest Ohio, Gross helps her staff grow with continuing education on lighting applications and product training.
“Laurie Gross is in a league of her own,” says Bulbrite President Cathy Choi, who serves with Gross on the ALA Board and is herself a past recipient of the WILLA. “Her passion and drive for excellence, coupled with her vision for building business by building her team, is what makes her so special. I am proud to work under her leadership at ALA and am thrilled she is receiving this much-deserved recognition.”
Outside of the lighting industry, Gross has chaired the Board of Trustees for The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio, which provides programs and services for people with permanent vision loss. She also served as president of the Toledo Jewish Community Foundation Board for the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo. In addition, she is a founding member of The University of Toledo Family Business Center.
“Laurie Gross has been a longtime friend and a dedicated supporter of our mission to empower independence and enrich the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired,” says Tim Tegge, executive director of The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio. “Her commitment was most visible during her three terms on the Board of Trustees, including two years as board president. Yet before and since that time, Laurie’s support of the cause and the agency has been strong and consistent. Her leadership has helped make The Sight Center a shining light in the lives of people who are losing their sight. It is fitting that Laurie Gross is now being recognized with the Women in Lighting Leadership Award.”
In addition to Choi, other past recipients of the WILLA include Kellee Hollenback Hammond, vice president of sales for Varaluz; Jilla Farzan, executive vice president and founder of Nora Lighting; and Norma Cooper, founder of Lighting Etc. For more information about Women in Lighting, visit www.lightingwomen.com or request to join the WIL Facebook Group and Linked In Group, and be sure to follow @ALAWomenInLighting on Instagram.