Our Mission

Illuminate rallies large groups of people together to create impossible works of public art that, through awe, free humanity's better nature.

Illuminate's 10 Principles

  • Be beauty bound. Commit to manifesting beautiful expressions, from surface to core.
  • Be free to all. Create nothing that requires paid admission.
  • Live or die with integrity. Never compromise for corporate dollars, even if that means failing.
  • Take worthy risks.  Try difficult things and be transparent in sharing all lessons.
  • Inspire generous collaboration. Select only projects that require disparate groups to work together.
  • Always aim high. Seek to unite all people around higher values of love and equality.
  • Champion civility. Be stewards of a family-friendly and inclusive public sphere.
  • Bring light to shadow.  Pursue positive expressions that address real-world shortcomings.
  • Be in it for others.  Self-sacrifice toward the greater good.
  • Take the long view.  Be willing to pursue larger visions that unfold over years.


Founded in 2011, Illuminate was the driving force behind The Bay Lights that now adorn the Western span of the Bay Bridge. Combining the vision of founder and CEO Ben Davis and renowned artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights gorgeously represent the transition from impossible to possible. Almost immediately upon flipping the "on" switch, The Bay Lights became one of the world's most recognizable pieces of public art and it continues today as both a mesmerizing piece of art and a beacon of possibility. In 2016 Illuminate formally gifted The Bay Lights to the State of California, ensuring their maintenance - and magic – for years to come.
The Bay Lights served as a public affirmation of Illuminate's capacity to successfully mount and complete a large-scale public art project and was a springboard for our establishment as an important arts organization in San Francisco.
Illuminate followed the success of The Bay Lights by celebrating the 40th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s election as the first openly-gay publicly elected official with two high-profile installations in the Castro. “Harvey’s Halo” was a temporary week-long light installation and Milk’s words “Hope Will Never Be Silent” now brilliantly adorn – in neon – the entrance to the Castro.
And Illuminate’s funkadelic lighting of the exterior of the famed Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park continues to delight. Unveiled in June 2017 to highlight the city’s 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the debut drew more than 25,000 people to Golden Gate Park. The exhibition ran throughout the summer and a winter installation followed. Due to its popularity, it continues nightly.

Our Team

Our Board

Lisa Vogel (Board Chair)

Director of Asset Management
Wareham Development

Jeff Jungsten

Jungsten Construction

Ken Maxey

Director of External Relations
Comcast NBCUniversal

Dana King


Matt Mullenweg

Automattic Inc.

Robin Abad Ocubillo

City and County of San Francisco
Director of Shared Spaces

Dickon Pinner

McKinsey & Company

Patricia Wilson (secretary)

P.S. Think Big, Inc.

Our Key Supporters

Special Thanks to Illuminate's Core Supporters

Keith & Leslie Blodgett, Eliza Brown, Chip Conley, JP Conte, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, Paul Haahr & Susan Karp, Matt Mullenweg, Niantic Labs, Elizabeth R. and William J. Patterson Foundation, Emily Scott, Michael & Xochi Birch, Carla & David Crane, and Tod & Allison Nielsen.


Press Inquiries

If you’re a member of the press and need information, please contact David Hatfield.

Contact David Hatfield



228 Laidley Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

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