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What is the Optical Women's Association's Emerging Leader Award?


The Emerging Leader Award, created in 2018, is presented to a woman who is a rising star and exemplifies leadership qualities as a new distinctive talent within the Optical Industry. Examples may be a Millennial or GEN Xer but not limited to these generations. Unlike the Pleiades and Pyxis Awards, the Emerging Leader Award may not necessarily be presented every year.

Katie Lauver

2022 Emerging Leader Award Recipient, Katie Lauver

Katie Lauver has worked in the optometry industry for 10 years, including her current tenure at GPN Technologies. In 2012, Katie started her career as an optician for a downtown optometry practice in Asheville, NC. With zero experience in optical aside from being a patient herself and an eyewear lover, she dove into the industry with her whole heart and learned everything she could about opticianry. She worked her way up to the position of business manager for a high-volume optical practice, then shifted her focus to opening her own business, which blended her love of herbalism and eye care. With The Herbal Spectacle, she sold eco-friendly eyewear and herbal medicine geared toward eye health and overall wellness to the local community, while also continuing her optical career.

After leaving the practice to go full time with her own business, Katie was offered the opportunity to move to the vendor side of the industry with GPN Technologies in 2016. First starting in sales at GPN, she is now the Vice President of Business Relations for the company, and works to educate both practice owners and partners on the importance of utilizing data analytics in their business.

Katie joined the OWA in 2018 and is now serving on the Professional Development Fund Committee, managing the "sponsor ambassador" program. She loves working with these OWA sponsor contacts and provides personal and professional development talks to them designed to help enrich their lives and promote radical action in their careers. The OWA's mission to connect, inspire, and lead is near to her heart as she empowers women to be the best version of themselves through personal connection and leadership.

Jennifer Stewart

2022 Emerging Leader Award Recipient, Dr. Jennifer Stewart

Dr. Jennifer Stewart is an optometrist, speaker, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur. She is a partner at Norwalk Eye Care and has been involved in the optometric community for almost 20 years. She is a nationally recognized speaker, with a passion for helping optometrists and organizations with operations, optical success, contact lens sales, and practice management through her company OD Perspectives. She is an established writer and has been featured in most optometric publications. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the New England College of Optometry and a consultant for Coopervision, Zyloware, and GPN.

With a deep interest in sports vision, Dr. Stewart is the Co-Founder and Chief Vision Officer for Performance 20/20, which provides services for sports and performance vision training. She is a recipient of the Theia Award for Innovation by Women in Optometry and serves on the Executive Board for the International Sports Vision Association. She is a proud member of the OWA Membership and Schools Initiative Committees, and is dedicated to increasing awareness and membership in the optometric community.

Dr. Stewart is passionate about sports safety, enhancing performance, and helping business owners achieve their goals. An avid Disney fan, she lives her life by the quote, "If you can dream it, you can do it." She is inspired to help others with their dreams!

Past Honorees