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OWA Through The Years

In 1997, a group of women set out with a goal to cultivate women’s roles as leaders in business and make room for all women in the industry to take part and reap the benefits.

Our Mission

The Beginning

The first planning meeting for what would become the OWA took place at a hotel room while some of the founding members were in California for a Vision Expo. Here, 13 women gathered who were all searching for more support and other women who were building their careers in the optical industry. They asked each other:

How could women get to know more about the business?

What was it like to be a female in communications, in marketing, in product design, in buying, in instruments, in opticianry and optometry and retail management?

What about women trying to run their own company?

With that, the OWA was born.

OWA women at a table for an event.
OWA Past Presidents.jpeg

Moving Forward

Each year, the OWA became better structured and more organized on how to build a group that would cultivate women’s roles as leaders. The group saw the value of being part of something bigger than themselves and worked to make it a reality. 

 

Over time, with each new President and board of directors, and thanks to the financial support from companies throughout the industry, more OWA structure, programs, events and gatherings were created.

All the former OWA presidents share the gratitude and satisfaction of knowing that the organization is reaching a larger number of women than ever in its history. OWA is moving into the future – and fast!

Past OWA Presidents

Deb Bulken

Deb Bulken

EssilorLuxottica

2021-2023

What I Love About OWA:

I love having the opportunity to engage with like-minded women, who see the potential in ALL women in our industry, to engage through continuous learning and networking to become the best leaders they can be!

Robyn Crimmins

Robyn Crimmins

VSP

2019-2021

What I Love About OWA:

The opportunity to connect, share, and learn from the talented women in our industry!

Tiara Claxton

Tiara Claxton

Thelios

2017-2019

What I Love About OWA:

I am dedicated to this organization purely for what we support; "To enhance and promote the leadership role of women in the optical industry through networking, education and peer support." I love working along side, connecting and networking with like-minded individuals!

Maureen Cavanagh

Maureen Cavanagh

Essilor

2016-2017

What I Love About OWA:

Throughout my entire career, I have always made an effort to encourage women to achieve their full potential. It has been a privilege and honor to represent women within the optical industry. There are a tremendous number of women who are inspired, motivated and touched everyday by the exceptional initiatives of the OWA, and we are all united in our approach to foster an association which provides support and guidance to such an outstanding group of distinguished women.

Heather Smith

Heather Smith

VisionWeb

2015-2016

What I Love About OWA:

The OWA has created a place for women in our industry to connect with each other and foster relationships that may not be possible otherwise. OWA members have access to a variety of tools that help them, but more than that, they get real opportunities to showcase their talent and develop their own professional roles.

Christie Walker

Christie Walker

Jobson Optical Group

2013-2015

What I Love About OWA:

I've been in the OWA since day one. I started in the optical industry in February 1997, and we founded the OWA that following September. Can't imagine working in the business without the support and friendship of my OWA sisters. I love how the OWA is always looking to improve itself and never falters from its mission of promoting the leadership role of women in the optical industry. I KNOW I wouldn't be where I am today without this amazing organization.

Ann E. Englert

Ann E. Englert

Solutions

2011-2013

What I Love About OWA:

Laurie Badone

Laurie Badone

Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.

2009-2011

What I Love About OWA:

Grady Culbreth

Grady Culbreth

Grady & Associates, Inc.

2007-2009

What I Love About OWA:

Sherrie Rogerson

Sherrie Rogerson

REM Eyewear

2005-2006

What I Love About OWA:

Rene Soltis

Rene Soltis

Vision Council

2005-2006

What I Love About OWA:

Corinne McCormack

Corinne McCormack

FGXI, Corinne McCormack, Inc.

2004-2005

What I Love About OWA:

Lorinda Fraboni

Lorinda Fraboni

Walman Optical

2002-2004

What I Love About OWA:

I love the women I've had the opportunity to work with from all walks of life in optical. Regardless of our backgrounds, or even that sometimes we compete in business, all of that goes to the wayside and we work for the common good of the OWA. We have the same passion and drive to position the OWA so it has the biggest outreach and impact for all women in optical. The men and companies who support the OWA over the years have been incredible resources to help us grow and fund our efforts to help women develop and attain leadership positions. The "coming together for the greater good" is what I love most about the OWA and the women I work with who I respect and who have become my lifelong friends.

Marge Axelrad (Founding Member)

Marge Axelrad (Founding Member)

Jobson Optical Group

2000-2002 (Co-President)

What I Love About OWA:

Jean Scott (Founding Member)

Jean Scott (Founding Member)

Luxottica

2000-2002 (Co-President)

What I Love About OWA:

What I love most are the incredible women that I have got to meet, that now I can call friend. So amazing!

Linda Little (Founder of OWA)

Linda Little (Founder of OWA)

The Little Group

1997-2000

What I Love About OWA:

Support OWA's Goals Today!

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