Author Archives: Amy Oriss

Education, Networking (and Some Fun) at the DesignLights Consortium Annual Meeting

dlcmeetingTop lighting and energy efficiency professionals are motivated by a driving concern: developing LED lighting solutions that people love. To stay up to speed on fast-evolving technologies, market transformation, and efficiency regulations, these professionals have an ideal forum in the DesignLights Consortium. For the second year in a row, Akoya is proud to have provided event management and logistics for the consortium’s signature event, the annual stakeholder meeting. This year’s event in Portland, Oregon, attracted more than 250 people for three days of education, networking, and even a little fun— attendees enjoyed a casino-themed reception and an evening at the Oregon Zoo.

Akoya worked closely with the client on the site search, venue selection, and contract negotiations, and handled all aspects of logistics management, including securing a local professional photographer and transportation vendor. On site, our team handled all behind-the-scenes management—such as registration, room and banquet setups, and last-minute requests—to ensure the client could focus on the content of the meeting itself. We’re proud of our partnership with the DesignLights Consortium and look forward to another successful conference in 2018!

Sisyphean, But not for Sissies

Pittsburgh has a lot of weird and wonderful things going for it, including an annual event called the “Dirty Dozen” that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For the past 29 years, a growing number of recreational cyclists have convened to conquer the steepest hills in and around the city—enduring inclement weather and insane terrain in a pure test of physical and mental prowess.


Photo courtesy of Jason Kambitsis, Wired Magazine

For the record, I am not one of these cyclists. I am, however, married to one, which marginally qualifies me to write this article, and I can tell it to you straight: the Dirty Dozen is no joke. But it is, technically, a race, which means that many of the cyclists try to scale these hills as fast as they can—to which I can only reply, “?!?!?!”

Over the course of about 6 hours, participants ride well over 50 miles as they travel from hill to hill and challenge themselves on grades that can approach 37 percent. I can only equate this to trying to drive my 11-year-old, 4-cylinder Honda Civic up a brick wall, which is what Hill #8—Sycamore Street—felt like last year when I delivered a can of Coke and a Clif bar to my husband, Jonathan. For a hot minute I thought maybe I wouldn’t make it, and I would need that Coke and Clif bar for sustenance until someone realized I was missing and the search party found my car tipped over at the bottom of Sycamore. I say “someone” because Jonathan would simply be too exhausted to notice my absence until arising arthritically from his post-DD slumber three days later.

I digress.

As the day progresses, and the riders’ quads quiver and lungs reach near explosion, a spectator like me can’t help but give mad props to any and all with the cojones to scale the Dirty Dozen—or even to try. Fully subscribing to the “no guts, no glory” motto, these cyclists are proof that, like in business, we simply don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re faced with adversity, and more often than not, we are happily surprised by the results—even if we stumble once or twice on the ascent.

Of course, it never hurts to have a little preparation behind you, too. Last year, Jonathan and his friends started training in September just to get through these few November hours, and they’re all experienced riders. So unless you just won the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de France, you may want to watch from the sidelines first. Because the Dirty Dozen is a serious mission, and only the strong survive. They may puke once or twice along the way. . . but they survive.

Pittsburgh public television legend Rick Sebak profiled the Dirty Dozen in 2010. Skip ahead to minute 19 for Hill #9—Canton Avenue—to capture the true essence of the Dirty Dozen. (That’s Jonathan clipping out at 20:48 and shattering the dreams of the guy behind him.)

Akoya Wraps Up Third Annual Pet Supply Drive

When I was a kid, my parents hung three stockings at holiday time: one for me, one for Lisa, my sister, and one for Chip—our dog. Because why not? Out of the three of us, Chip was often the best behaved, so it only made sense for Santa to toss a couple of rawhides his way.

Chip’s long gone, but in my family the pets still rule, and the same holds true for the Akoya staff—three-quarters of us share our homes, our meals, and often our beds, with 17 dogs and cats of various breeds and colorful personalities. And at this time of year, as we head to Petco for stocking stuffers and lint-brush our couches and holiday sweaters, we also try to remember some of the homeless animals that could use a little pick-me-up this season.

This year marked Akoya’s third-annual pet supply drive—where donations are collected to benefit Pittsburgh’s three largest animal shelters: the Animal Rescue League, Animal Friends, and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. From standard needs like food and toys, to more practical requests such as office and cleaning supplies, all donations are tallied and distributed to best match each shelter’s wish list. As of last week, we collected enough money to sponsor a spay/neuter procedure at Animal Friends and delivered overflowing boxes of goodies to all three facilities.

As a proud owner of a shelter dog, I’ve wondered what his life was like “behind bars”—if he had a bed, or was cold at night, or was ever given a special treat for his very own. So in honor of Norman and the rest of the Akoya pets, please give your own pet an extra treat from us, and consider animal rescue for your next furry or feathered companion.