Seattle City Light Hires Executive Director for Lighting Design Lab

SEATTLE – Seattle City Light named Irina Rasputnis as its executive director of Lighting Design Lab (LDL). She will oversee the operational administration and strategic direction of the organization, supporting technology and educational needs of regional utilities, the design community, and northwest regional trade allies. Rasputnis will join City Light’s leadership team and report directly to industry veteran, Edward Smalley, manager of City Light’s technology services group.

Irina Rasputnis

Rasputnis is lighting certified by the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) and comes to Lighting Design Lab from the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), based in Medford, Mass., formerly part of Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, where she was the DLC Program Manager. During her tenure, she conducted large-scale stakeholder insights and needs assessments, built programs, and contributed to the organization’s business planning. In addition to her industry recognized technical expertise, Rasputnis has great purview of utility programs and the educational needs of trade allies.

“Irina is very insightful, and has a high degree of understanding when it comes to navigating complex information and customer needs. What struck me the most about her, was how quickly she drove to solutions when asked about obstacles facing the lighting market today,” said Smalley. “I am excited she will be joining our team and the great group of experienced professionals at LDL.”

Rasputnis graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, and completed coursework toward earning a Master of Arts in urban and environmental policy and planning. She will begin her new role with Lighting Design Lab on Dec. 4, after making the move to Seattle with her family.

Lighting Design Lab
Lighting Design Lab (LDL) is a commercial and industrial lighting validation and education organization service of Seattle City Light with additional funding from other major northwest electric utilities and energy conservation partners. For over 28 years, LDL has provided consultation and learning services to the contracting, utility, design, and architectural communities. Lighting Design Lab’s mission is to build business value for its customers by ensuring they have the education and technical information they need to make informed decisions about the adoption of energy-efficient lighting and connected building technologies and practices.

Twitter: @LightingDLab –

Seattle City Light
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Michelle Vargo

Michelle Vargo has embraced a leadership role since joining City Light in 2013. In that time, she has risen to the director level, and she recently graduated from the City of Seattle’s prestigious City Leadership Academy. In her work at City Light, Michelle oversees the transmission and distribution network, stations, technical and support services.

For Michelle, acting as a leader is nothing new; she graduated from West Point with an engineering degree, followed by a five-year stint in the Army and two tours to Iraq where she supervised, planned, assessed and inspected construction projects. Not content to stop learning there, she attended the University of Chicago, where she earned an MBA while working in the industrial gases and engineering industry. In this week’s (spot)Light, Michelle gives her take on leadership.


Director of Transmission and Distribution Network, Stations, Technical & Support Michelle Vargo

I got involved in leadership at a pretty young age, starting in high school. If I wasn’t a president of a student body of some sort, then I was usually a captain of my sports team. From a young age I was interested in learning more.

I had the opportunity to do a lot of studying on leadership while I was at the West Point Academy. Coming out of the academy, I spent five years on active duty, at first leading a platoon of 40 people, then coordinating over 100 construction projects through Iraq, and finally working as the engineering liason for the Pacific Theatre Logistics Command. My whole life I have been learning different ways to effectively lead teams.

I think leadership is very fluid. It looks different depending upon your individual relationships; what effective leadership might look like for one relationship might be different for another. I’ve figured that out over the years.

It really comes down to finding out what motivates people and genuinely being interested in trying to help people meet their potential, do the best they can possible do and meet the goals they have in life.

If you don’t like dealing with people, you won’t like leadership. Knowing yourself and what you really like to do is the best indicator of whether or not you will succeed in your job, leadership role or not.

Some people think others are born leaders, but it is absolutely a skill you can learn and build on. I’m not the same leader I was when I entered the military academy, I’m not the same leader I was when I walked in front of my first platoon, and I’m not the leader I was when I had my first job outside of the military. It’s an evolving skill. Don’t be discouraged if your first try goes horribly and say ‘I’m not cut out for this.’ You can absolutely learn it.