Fred Foster Wins 2007 Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award

The Wally Russell Fund is pleased to announce the unanimous choice of the board of directors for the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award is Fred Foster, CEO of Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC).

“Fred's visionary leadership has propelled ETC into the top rank of the world's leading manufacturers of stage lighting equipment. ETC has been constantly innovative in technology with such products as the Source Four spotlight, the Sensor dimmer and the EOS and Obsession control systems. From the outset of ETC in 1975, Fred knew that the stage lighting industry was a people-oriented one, and he has constantly attracted the brightest talent in the world to his rapidly growing international business." comments Richard Pilbrow, chairman emeritus of The Wally Russell Fund.

While studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 32 years ago, and intrigued by the lighting control console in use then at the university theatre, Foster and his brother decided to design one of the first microprocessor-based consoles. Blissfully ignorant about business theory or risks, Foster and partners eventually secured an OEM agreement with a major manufacturer, and ultimately went on their own to incorporate the legal entity Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc. (1977). Years of innovative product development, bold acquisitions, international expansion, and talented people followed. Now Foster’s ETC is a global leader in entertainment and architectural lighting, headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin, with 600 employees, and offices worldwide. Known for his casual Birkenstocks and jeans, Foster was also the creative mind behind the ETC headquarters theatre-inspired "Town Square." Marking 50 this year, Foster never finished his lighting-design degree but he continues to distinguish himself as a passionate supporter of students, motivating future generations to similar success.

“Fred is by far the youngest winner of the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Tom Folsom, president of the Wally Russell Fund. “His accomplishments to the entertainment industry have however been clear, and unprecedented. It was never the intent of the Wally Lifetime Award to have to wait until a deserving individual was near the conclusion of their career, and it is our hope that by recognizing Fred and his many accomplishments at this time that The Wally Award and Fred will continue to motivate and contribute to the industry,” concludes Folsom.

“I never had a chance to work with Wally Russell, but many of my friends did. The impact that Wally made on these people, as well as on our industry, makes receiving this recognition in his name truly an honor,” says Foster.

Previous winners of the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award:

2006—Allen Branton
2005—Richard Belliveau
2004—George Izenour
2003—Sonny Sonnenfeld
2002—Jimmy Fuller*
2001—Jim Bornhorst
2000—Stan Miller
1999—Don Stern
1998—Bran Ferren
1997—Fred Bentham*
1996—Francis DeVerna*
1995—Tharon Musser
1994—George van Buren
1993—Charles Altman*
1992—Wally Russell*
* deceased

Since 1992, The Wally Russell Fund has sponsored Lighting Interns at the Los Angeles Opera and the Canadian Opera Company on an annual basis and also awards the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the annual Wally Newcomer Award in honor and memory of Wally Russell, an industry pioneer and mentor to many in the entertainment industry.

The Wally Russell Fund is a tax exempt non-profit organization.
For more information, on how you can participate, please visit the Wally Russell web site:

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