Mission Statement

“To Educate and Separate.” The focus of ELLI is to advance lighting design and to be the leading educational resource for landscape lighting. ELLI will act as an authority for this purpose.

How ELLI intends to Educate and Separate:
  • Online small group training
  • Skills proficiency training at Regional Training Sites (RTS)
  • Personalized company training at company locations
  • Videos, documents, photos and books
  • By defining the practice and artform
  • By establishing parameters & measures
  • By understanding what ‘good’ design is
  • By peer recognition
  • By developing advanced landscape lighting designers


To serve the landscape lighting design profession by providing them with meaningful, educational offerings, tools, and measures that will ensure advancement.

Landscape lighting is a visual form of art—it should be treated as such. The value of ELLI is that it offers a path to successful awareness in this practice. ELLI provides the opportunity to advance faster and farther than any other landscape lighting design program. The reason for this advancement is because it includes the effects of light and nature, psychologically and physiologically upon humans. ELLI also studies human perspective, emotion, and well-being. Each of these aspects are not normally covered by other programs.

The ELLI educational offering is different, unique, and assertive in how one can truly get ahead in this craft. This program is for those who want to make an investment in their personal growth, as well as their business.

What is ELLI?

ELLI is an educational resource dedicated to the landscape lighting design diiscipline. It was created to be a leading authority by 2025-2026 for the lighting industry.

ELLI is a membership-based entity that relies on its membership revenue to provide for the high-quality staffing and programs developed. Each member of our team (staff and instructors) are fairly compensated for their expertise and commitment to the ELLI mission. It is because of this compensation that we can proactively develop and provide for our membership. In other words, ELLI does not rely on a volunteer base like most others. Therefore, we will reach objectives on schedule and without years of wasted time.

Who is ELLI?

ELLI is a collaborative effort where its leadership is driven by passion and the understanding that we must ‘give back’ to better the landscape lighting profession. Its leaders and instructors are selected based on the following parameters: 1) passion in design and the design discipline, 2) extensive professional experience or skill set, and 3) continuous desire to learn and to teach.

The ELLI leadership and instructor positions will evolve or change over time, so that the ELLI vision continues to grow for the next generation. ELLI is not about any one individual, rather it is about the concepts of growth and advancement.

Current ELLI Leadership

Mark Carlson—CEO/Founder

Mark directs and manages all educational operations, acting as Administrator. He is the primary visionary of this endeavor and oversees a team of three that implement ELLI’s vision. Also, Mark is both a content creator and instructor. His ability to develop and build course programs is an essential part to the expansion goals ELLI has. As courses come online, ELLI will select an appropriate instructor to teach these courses/classes, as well as find suitable replacement instructors to continue this long-term offering.

As a visionary leader, Mark’s personality profile allows him the ability to focus on both the logical and creative needs within this entity. He has served the Green industry since 1985, performing within the landscape architectural and construction communities. Additionally, he has management and leadership experience within the U.S. Army, and the window fashion and food service industries. Mark is also an active, professional drummer that performs in the Sacramento market.

ELLI was created by Mark to fulfill a long-time, existing problem—the huge lacking of ‘design’ education and training available to the lighting professions. Mark felt it was time for someone to step up and tackle this issue, so he did. Only a few lighting design professionals (Nightingale, Locklin, Watson, and Moyer) have managed to push the ‘design’ agenda forward since its inception with Frank B. Nightingale (1933). However, much of this progress was left at a relatively basic level of practice. ELLI’s vision is much bigger than our profession has taken it.


Mark has always been a “mover & shaker” and this effort is no different. He has faced many adversities in life, but they have never stopped him from achieving successful results. We wish to associate ourselves with those who desire to see this vision come to full reality. We have outlined a ‘path’ for lighting designers to take so that they may progress to an end-point or destination. Our profession has never identified these things nor have they provided a means to get there. This is how and why we are different. In other words, Actions, not talk…achieves Results.

As far as the ELLI team, Mark has been identifying key inviduals across the country who possess three important traits/skills: 1) individuals who are willing to learn and who do not exhibit ego-issues, 2) individuals who are highly skilled/experienced in a specific discipline related to our subject matter, and 3) individuals who have character, passion, and a positive demeanor to help in teaching others.

Out team development will provide for this current generation, as well as to help create the necessary content to pass along to the next generation of educators and ELLI leadership for implementation. Ultimately, our vision is to provide “betterment”—this can be in the form of knowledge and skills, but it will also include betterment in health/well-being for humans, as this is our end-goal.

Chris Mitchell— Business Relations

Chris coordinates and manages many of our partnerships and associations between those entities and individuals who believe in the ELLI vision. He provides the ELLI team with extensive experience and value because of his continued relationships and involvement with other prominent groups: International Landscape Lighting Institute (ILLI), Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals (AOLP), Landscape Lighting Secrets/ Lighting For Profits, and a few others.

Of the outstanding attributes Chris brings to our team, there are two that stand out-- communications and relationships. He is very much a 'people person' and that is the reason he is heading up our Business Relations developments. Chris is a wonder to be around, as he has a distinct knack at getting to the “root” issue of most things, due to his ability to question and analyze everything. ELLI is fortunate to have such ability on our team, as it allows us to identify and resolve matters quickly so that we can continue to move forward.

Chris was the first person to be included onto the ELLI team. He immediately saw the “vision” and the impact this entity could have on this profession’s future. Additionally, Chris has been a confidant and friend of Mark since 2006—there is a level of trust that has built over the years that many never find. He is essential to our ability to ‘raise-the- bar’ and to do something bigger than any one individual.


The experience Chris has is an excellent match for ELLI’s goals—he has over 20-years experience in design and the field operations of landscape lighting, and he has served in the healthcare industry for 4-years. As mentioned before, our long-term goals address the positive human health concerns all humans face, so Chris’ direct experience will be essential in working in conjunction with this other industry.

Leonard Carillo—VP Marketing

Leonard coordinates and manages much of our marketing efforts, as well as our video productions. He brings an “outsider’s perspective” to the ELLI vision and goals, as he offers both a worldly view and a creative view to what we are doing. Again, this is a huge asset to the ELLI team. Leonard is the counter-balance to Chris, as it applies to creativity and logic. With that said, Mark, Chris and Leonard make up a well-rounded team that can effectively function.

Leonard has a wide span of professional experience in multiple industries, to include performing at an advertising & marketing agency for several years. He is a producer and developer within the film & television industry, providing 18 major motion pictures, 10 independent films, and 6 reality network TV shows. In addition, he is a performing, professional bassist—he and Mark first became friends by performing in the same band in the Sacramento market. Leonard had many years of touring professionally, as well.


Although Leonard is new to the ELLI team, he became very interested in this effort when he began working with Mark on some video productions. He too, saw the vision, and felt it was very much in-line with what he did to promote and build another very successful project—“Titans of CNC”. Leonard believes we are on the cusp of taking off just like it and they are a multi-million dollar success story. With that said, this is the type of encouragement, leadership, and attitude we desire on this team.

ELLI Goals

  • Develop content to complete our online training programs
  • Develop skills proficiency training and certification programs
  • Operate 1-5 regional training sites (RTS)
  • Build and promote membership and large following to become the authority
  • Establish standards, guides, and measures to 'raise-the-bar' in the landscape lighting profession
  • Establish relations with major universities for research studies
  • Promote and ensure ELLI standards & practices are the new high standard
  • Establish and promote consumer awareness & educational programs
  • Build out national training site (NTS) with several application's gardens
  • Perform studies with universities on light, nature, and wellness
  • Develop 'affective' lighting design training and certification
  • Document and prove the human health benefits in publications
  • Locate and develop the new ELLI leadership for the next generation
  • Study, understand, and develop practices for 'affective' skill proficiency

ELLI Dedications

There are three things that the ELLI initiative is dedicated to; 1) in honor of Frank B. Nightingale, the “father of garden lighting (founder of this discipline—1885-1965), 2) the future generation of landscape lighting designers, and 3) the advancement of human health, as associated with Light and Nature.


Photo by Ulf Pedersen, 2018

ELLI intends to function as an independent entity without favoritism to any organization or individual. Therefore, one’s ‘return-on-investment’ is associated to the belief in this cause, as it relates to the betterment of this profession and artform, and in human health.

ELLI will gratefully accept all financial contributions from those that wish to support the advancement of landscape lighting. ELLI encourages corporations and manufacturers who value this form of buy-in, so that they may “give back” to the community and future of this industry. ELLI would like its partners to consider this effort much like religion—something you honestly believe in. This act of giving will allow you to be part of the “solution.” ELLI will recognize all donators and promote them for this partnership and/or sponsorship.