The annual OWA Star Award Cocktail Party & Networking Event welcomed members and supporters to the fantastic second floor at the Eventi Hotel during Vision Expo East to enjoy great food, a slick jazz combo, and introduce the new honorees' "Charity of Choice" program. Most important, the event honored the OWA's three award winners — Ashley Mills (Pleiades Award), Deb Bulken (Pyxis Award), and Janelle Pauli (Emerging Leader Award).
Held Friday, March 16, just one day after the OWA Champagne Breakfast, the party continued in the spirit of the OWA's new "Do More" campaign that was introduced at the OWA Champagne Breakfast event. To further honor the three award winners, OWA President Tiara Claxon announced that the OWA is making a financial contribution to each woman's favorite charity.
The funds will come from the OWA's main fundraising event — the silent auction and raffle fundraiser at Vison Expo West — and from fundraisers held at the OWA regional events across the country. Here, each winner reveals their charity of choice.
Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, said "It's an incredible honor to receive the OWA Pleaides Award and to represent The Vision Council and our talented staff as we do the important work of steering our industry. As a woman in this industry, I am continually humbled by the support of our member organizations and the larger optical community. I am proud to have the opportunity to pay it forward, and to help advance the next generation of female leaders in our industry."
Her chosen charity is Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, a fundraising initiative for breast cancer that is supported by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation.
Deb Bulken, Eastern Regional Sales Director at Luxottica, said that she is "honored to join the amazing group of previous Pyxis Award winners. I personally want to thank all of our members, sponsors and dedicated board for their part in accelerating our growth and furthering our mission each day!"
Deb chose OneSight to receive the OWA donation. OneSight is a Luxottica-supported nonprofit dedicated to providing access to comprehensive eye exams and eyewear to those in need around the world.
Janelle Pauli, Marketing Manager at VisionWeb, told the crowd that she is "grateful to be recognized as the OWA's first-ever Emerging Leader honoree. The connections and relationships that I've built with many of the great women who make up this organization have helped me reach this point in my career, and I'm so excited to carry this forward to others in the OWA."
In homage to her new "home" state, Janelle chose the Central Texas Food Bank as her charity, noting that for every dollar received, four meals are provided to people in need.
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