During the ALA Women in Lighting (WIL) event at January Lightovation in Dallas, the association presented Jilla Farzan, executive vice president of Nora Lighting, with the WIL Leadership Award.
Jilla, along with her husband, Fred, two daughters and one more on the way, immigrated to the United States in 1987 from Iran. Two years later, after identifying a unique opportunity to enter the lighting industry, the Farzans started their company with Jilla leading the way.
"On paper, I was the least fit person for the job," said Jilla. "I had a PHD in sanitary engineering, a language barrier and accent that was impossible to ignore, three children at home that really needed me, and I was entering an industry with a very, very small female presence."
Despite these hardships, the company blossomed, and in the early 90s, Jilla’s husband, Fred, joined the business in an official capacity. Together, the Farzans took Nora Lighting from a 900-square-foot building with two SKUs and two employees, to a company occupying more than 300,000 square feet of warehouse space across the country with over 50,000 SKUs and 150 employees.
During her acceptance speech, Jilla discussed the unique challenges women, particularly working mothers, can face in their careers. "Over the last 31 years, I wore every hat you can imagine at Nora, while managing my responsibilities as a mother and wife," said Jilla. "There were times I felt I was failing in both departments, and times where I truly gave myself a pat on the back. Through it all, I’ve learned that having a good support system can go a very long way."
Jilla concluded by acknowledging and celebrating all of the women in lighting, noting that it is a growing demographic within the industry and that she is honored to work amongst them.
The WIL Leadership Award recognizes individuals for their achievements and leadership in the lighting industry, support of ALA, mentorship of other women in the lighting industry, and devotion to their community. Award recipients must be an ALA member, nominated by a fellow ALA member, and voted upon by the WIL Committee