Colorado fire impacts lighting design professionals (UPDATED)

Jan. 4, 2022
WITH UPDATES - Lighting industry colleagues rally to aid of Colorado lighting professionals whose homes were destroyed in the recent fires.

Editor’s note by Carrie Meadows; Original reporting by Al Uszynski,, Jan. 3, 2022 LEDs Magazine has learned from lighting industry media source that Colorado-based Cullen Lighting Studio (a home-based operation) has been demolished by the devastating fires in Colorado.

International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) member and founder/principal of Cullen Lighting Studio Kate Cullen is among hundreds of residents who have lost homes, pets, and possessions in the fires that recently ravaged the areas of Louisville and Superior, CO. editor Al Uszynski has granted permission for other media sources to reproduce the following article with a link to a vetted GoFundMe page, set up by lighting specification sales professional and Cullen’s friend Juliana Ruffalo. While Cullen and her family are safe and healthy, they have of course lost much and will face unexpected expenses in the months ahead. I simply want to provide another forum to invite additional support from those in the lighting design and supply chain who are willing. These are extraordinary times and challenging circumstances under which to start a new year. Carrie Meadows, Associate Editor, LEDs Magazine


Lighting People rally to lend support to Cullen Lighting Studio

SUPERIOR, COLORADO – The devasting fires that recently destroyed nearly 1000 homes in Colorado caused many residents of Louisville and Superior to scramble and evacuate their homes with very little notice. One of those affected households was the Cullen family. Their entire neighborhood of 340 homes burned to the ground. Kate, Bill and their three children escaped safely, but they sadly lost their pets, their home, their SUV and nearly all their possessions.

Kate Cullen is an IALD member and Parsons-educated lighting designer. After starting her lighting design career with well-respected firms in New York and Denver, she is now Principal of Cullen Lighting Studio – a firm that she founded in 2014. Like many small design firms, Cullen Lighting Studio is a home-based business.

Shelter with a lighting friend

When the Cullen’s hurriedly evacuated their neighborhood on December 30, they found shelter with Juliana Ruffalo and family in the Denver suburb of Erie, Colorado.  Cullen and Ruffalo were once coworkers and now collaborate professionally in a specifier-agent capacity.  Ruffalo is an experienced specification sales professional with Visual Interest. 

"When we were fleeing, I was in the back seat holding my twin babies with no car seat carriers and only their diapers. My husband & I quickly ran through a list of people who would shelter us & all three options were my lighting reps. I think that speaks volumes about our industry." - Kate Cullen, Cullen Lighting Studio

Lighting Industry rallies support

To help the Cullen’s address the costs of temporary living and other unanticipated expenses in the months ahead, Ruffalo started a GoFundMe page with a fundraising goal of $20,000. The $20K milestone was met within the first 24 hours and, as of press time, 426 donors have contributed a total of $69,271.

Those familiar with the Denver architectural lighting market will recognize many names on the donor list. Additionally, individuals from HLB, Sean O'Connor Lighting, Tirschwell & Co. and other architectural lighting design firms contributed. And many lighting companies donated, too – including USAI, Tivoli, Axis Lighting, LF Illumination and New York based lighting agent, SDA Lighting & Controls.

Amidst this tragedy, it’s heartwarming to witness the architectural lighting community step up to help Cullen Lighting Studio recover from this incredible setback. We join all lighting people in wishing the Cullen family strength, resiliency and best wishes navigating the difficult recovery ahead.

Cullen told us, "We are absolutely devastated and just so thankful at the same time."

GoFundMe – View page to contribute

UPDATE Jan. 5, 2022 — has shared the news that Lumenpulse Pacific Northwest/Mountain regional sales manager Paul Dailey and his family also lost their home to the fires in Louisville, CO. Please visit the GoFundMe page for more information on how to help.

NOTE: Full reprint rights of the text of this article are granted to other publications provided (1) the article includes a conspicuous link to the GoFundMe fundraiser page and (2) proper accreditation is given to the author and to

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About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.