IESNYC Member of the Month: Kristina Jajalla

Congratulations to FMS Associate Kristina Jajalla,
our latest designer to be featured 
as the IES New York City Section Member of the Month!

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
It was a happy accident! As an undergrad, I studied Architecture and Community Design at the University of San Francisco, where the foundation of the program (and the university) was centered around social justice and responsibility, equitable design, and environmental justice. My studies were very focused around designing “for the people.” I was interested in expanding on this and eventually attempted to pursue a master’s in architecture. However, in my research of different universities, I discovered the lighting design program at Parsons School of Design at The New School. Funny enough, New York City was never a place I thought I would live in. When I was younger, I traveled to the city for a school trip… and hated it! However, I was so intrigued by designing light that it did not matter where I studied. I applied with no knowledge of lighting design, and eventually was accepted into the program (at the very last minute)!  Three weeks later, I packed my bags and left for New York City.

While I was a student at Parsons, I became a student member of the IES. We attended Section events during the school year and met many connections through the organization.I also remember participating in the student competition and receiving lots of encouragement.

Q: How do you see your role with the IESNYC?
Not too long ago, I reached my 10 year work anniversary at Fisher Marantz Stone. So safe to say, I’m not new to the industry. As much as I enjoy my career, I always felt there was something missing. I eventually realized it was the “design for the people” foundation of my studies that was missing in the work I do. Within the last few years, I made it a personal mission to uphold my foundational values.

For me, this meant giving back to the community. Now with 10 years in the game, I feel an inherent responsibility to be a servant leader. I seek to be an inspiration and motivation for those around me who are new to our craft.

I was always interested in opening doors to the lighting industry, as well as the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. I enjoy partaking in outreach beyond our local lighting community to further spread awareness, teach the youth, or participate in mentorship opportunities. Just recently, I was invited to volunteer with other lighting designers to run workshops for SoCal NOMA’s architecture summer camp in Los Angeles. SoCAL NOMA’s mission is to “Equip, Empower, and Educate” young minds about the built environment and architectural professions. The main objective for the lighting team each year is essentially to share our world with youngsters, focusing on different lighting topics each year. This year, I helped give presentations that educated students about the lighting design industry, what architectural lighting is, basic principles of lighting design, and how lighting can transform the built environment. We also had light fixture samples on display that students played with, and held daylighting demonstrations with their own architectural models.

My next personal mission is to become a mentor for Operation Jump Start, an organization that “provides comprehensive resources and mentoring needed to enable youth in underserved communities to reach their full potential through a college education.” In this organization, mentors are paired with a student for up to 3 years. My role as a mentor will simply be to help facilitate and navigate my mentee to discover what interests them in life and what career path they may be interested in pursuing.

Both these efforts I have grown interested in are small but can make huge impacts. Aside from that, it personally brings me so much joy to see students inspired and excited to learn. Suffice to say, I deeply value mentorship and advocacy. I’ve been known to play this part in our office. Seeing professional growth within newer designers is one of the greatest rewards in my career.

So back to the question of what I think my role is as the member of the month… I’m simply sharing my story in hopes that it will make an impact and inspire similar epiphanies in others, or inspire others to seek out what more they may want to do to fulfill and enrich their careers.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
I can appreciate that the IESNYC has a huge presence in our local lighting community. The Section creates numerous opportunities to connect and network with others. Although we all come from various lighting firms and different market sectors, I have always found the lighting industry to have a camaraderie like no other.