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The Pleiades Award

Each year, our Pleiades Award honors an individual who has shown exceptional support in advancing the leadership role of women in the optical industry.

All Pleiades Honorees

Rebecca Kiefer Headshot

Rebecca Kiefer

2024 Honoree

Rebecca has a distinguished career marked by commitment to client relations, leadership, and strategic growth initiatives. She has a solid foundation in team building, based on her past experience as a collegiate soccer player at NYU, and a reputation for cultivating a culture of collaboration, work ethic, and excellence. Her leadership style inspires teams to surpass targets and achieve remarkable results. Her mantra is not original and has been used by many before her: "true leaders raise leaders who raise leaders." Her unwavering commitment to customer-centric solutions is rooted in her start at Modo, where she began as a temporary employee on Modo's customer service team. Rebecca wore various hats throughout her tenure at Modo; noteworthy positions include Manager of Customer Service, Director of Operations, and  beginning in 2010, Vice President of Operations. In 2014, she became the COO, and in 2020, was appointed CEO.

 

Giefer, a current member of the Optical Women's Association, served on The Vision Council's Board of Directors for six years, was part of their Emerging Optical Leaders Committee, chaired their Marketing Committee, and also participated in their DEI task force.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the business landscape, Giefer has twice been honored as one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women — first in 2016 in the "Executive Suite" category, and then in 2023 in the "Above and Beyond" category.

Her professional journey is characterized by an unwavering dedication to delivering value to various stakeholders and a strong work ethic. She currently lives in the vibrant borough of Brooklyn with her husband David and 7-year-old son Owen.

Karen Roberts Headshot

Karen Roberts

Head of Global Customer Enablement - Carl Zeiss Vision International

2023 Honoree

Karen works closely with corporate and local commercial teams to assist customers with bespoke business solutions and after-sales technical and business support.

The optical industry has been Karen Roberts' passport to the world. During her 38-year career in optical, she has lived and worked in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the U.S., and currently resides in Adelaide, South Australia.

Her career spans leadership roles in R&D, operations, new product management, and business development. An active participant in leadership and strategy forums within both ZEISS and the broader industry, Karen has also contributed to two Harvard Business School case studies on disruptive technology and large-scale change management.

Roberts' passion for optical is driven by the positive transformation that good quality eyecare and eyewear have on the quality of people's lives. "New technologies and the innovative solutions they enable are expanding access and driving better outcomes for people in need."

She has been active on the executive board of The Vision Council for over 10 years and has been chair for the last 2 years. "It's been an interesting time, helping steer TVC through the worst of the pandemic and be better positioned and more relevant to the industry as it evolves." She is appreciative of the strong team at TVC and grateful to her extremely competent and engaged executive board colleagues.

Roberts was named one of Vision Monday's "Most Influential Women in Optical" in 2017. She sees influential women advancing all facets of the optical business, bringing with them a strong emphasis on listening, customer focus, and collaboration. She continues to be inspired by how diverse and interesting the optical business is and amazed at the rapid evolution of the industry with new technologies.

Erinn Morgan Headshot

Erinn Morgan

Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Director - the award-winning Eyecare Business magazine, a PentaVision publication

2022 Honoree

Erinn Morgan has been covering the business and fashion trends of the optical industry for over 20 years. Eyecare Business recently received the Folio Award for the Best Magazine issue in Healthcare in 2020 for its coverage and reader support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Erinn is also the Director of Social Media for PentaVision LLC, parent company of EB and 10 other publications and was recently named the Editorial Director of Contact Lens Spectrum.

She has been deeply involved in the vision care industry and the OWA, having been a member of the OWA's Board of Directors and Chair of the OWA Communications Committee, as well as holding a long-standing position on The Vision Council's Marketing & Communications Committee.

Erinn's resume also includes numerous additional editorial positions, such as Editor-in-Chief of 20/20 Magazine, Editor-in-Chief of FrameBuyer, and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning SoHo Style magazine, a cutting-edge magazine that focused on the culture and style of downtown New York City.

Erinn is the author of the book Picture Yourself Going Green, the founder of the fitness- and health-focused blog WomensMovement.com, and her written work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Outside magazine, Skiing, and numerous other publications.

Gai Gherardi Headshot

Gai Gherardi

Co-Founder and Co-Designer - l.a.Eyeworks

2021 Honoree

Gai Gherardi is the co-founder and co-designer of l.a.Eyeworks, which she and Barbara McReynolds began in 1979 as a single storefront in Los Angeles. Best friends since their high school days, Gherardi and McReynolds transformed their early training as opticians into a vision of l.a.Eyeworks as a vehicle to challenge the prevailing norms of eyewear with proposals for new, provocative revelations of the face. More than four decades and hundreds of frame designs later, l.a.Eyeworks encompasses two namesake retail stores in Los Angeles and a wholesale division that channels its influential designs to a global network of independent opticians and retailers.

In addition to groundbreaking eyewear designs, l.a.Eyeworks has made an indelible stamp on the look and language of what an eyewear company can be. From streamlined architectural spaces to the cases that protect the frames, Gherardi and McReynolds leave no creative detail untouched. An abiding love for artists led to an ongoing series of in-store exhibitions, event programming, and commissioned works. Since 1981, the brand's signature portrait ad campaign has featured an eclectic mix of more than 200 high-profile celebrities in an ever-evolving series of stunning black-and-white images, anchored by the legendary tagline, "A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame."

Having lectured internationally on l.a.Eyeworks' unique approach to design and brand development, Gherardi has also served frequently on arts/design juries and is a longstanding board member of Art Matters, an arts granting foundation. Besides her role on the executive committee of the Eyewear Designers of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (edCFDA), Gherardi is a member of the optical industry's first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force sponsored by The Vision Council.

Millicent Knight Portrait

Millicent Knight, OD, FAAO, FAARM, FNAP

Senior Vice President - Customer Development Group,

Essilor of America

2020 Honoree

Millicent's team aligns Eye Care Professional education, sales force training, and eye care professional relations to deliver on the Essilor mission of improving lives by improving sight. Dr. Knight represents the voice of the doctor as a member of the Leadership Team.

She has a diverse and extensive background in the eyecare industry, including hospital-based ophthalmology/optometry, owner of two optometric practices (North Shore Eye Center and Integrative Eye and Wellness Center), and a former member of Vision Source. Prior to Essilor, she was Vice President of Professional Affairs, North America at Johnson & Johnson Vision, Inc.

Knight is a member of the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA), the American Optometric Association (AOA), and the National Optometric Association (NOA), and was awarded Optometrist of the Year by both the IOA and NOA, as well as Young Optometrist of the Year by both Organizations.

Knight holds a Doctor of Optometry degree, and two Bachelor of Science degrees. She has served on the Board of Trustees for Augustana College and the Illinois College of Optometry, her alma maters, and was awarded Alumnus Professional Achievement Awards. Dr. Knight was awarded the J&J Standards of Leadership Award, twice selected one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in Optical, and a Women in Optometry Theia Award for Leadership recipient. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Regenerative Medicine, The National Academies of Practice, and a Kellogg Leadership Fellow.

Knight took an interest in this field as a child with Myopia and an accommodative disorder resolved with vision therapy at Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), and by age 8 told her father she was going to be an eye doctor. She is a passionate advocate for quality patient care, has mentored many students and colleagues, and benefitted from their mentoring as well. Her husband and life partner is Harvey Echols, MD, and they are the parents of one son, Matthew.

Holly Rush Headshot

Holly Rush

2019 Honoree

Holly's career spans more than 25 years in the consumer products industry leading the growth and development of large teams and well-known brands. She previously held key roles at L'Oreal as well as Duracell, a division of the Gillette Company.

In 2011, she joined the Optical Industry, becoming the SVP of Sales for Luxottica Wholesale and was part of the management team that helped restore the company to its leadership position in the US. She was subsequently named President of Luxottica Wholesale North America.

In 2016 she and her family relocated to Daytona Beach, Florida where she became the CEO of Costa Del Mar, a division of the Essilor Company.

Holly is passionate about galvanizing teams and developing the next generation of leaders. She dedicates time to speaking engagements such as the "Women Rule" series hosted by POLITICO, Google, and the Tory Burch Foundation, along with the Optical Women's Association (OWA) and the Essilor Women's Network. She was the recipient of Vision Monday's "Most Influential Women of the Year" in 2012, received Luxottica's Founder's Award for "Entrepreneurship" and the "Visionary" award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Ashley Mills Headshot

Ashley Mills

2018 Honoree

Ashley Mills leads The Vision Council, the industry's association for optical suppliers, manufacturers and retailers. In this role, she works to elevate awareness of the importance of vision to the public, and is deeply committed to cultivating strong, effective partnerships throughout the optical arena and in adjacent sectors. She brings over 20 years of progressive communications, philanthropy and leadership experience to The Vision Council after working at global agencies including Weber Shandwick and Hill & Knowlton, as well as major trade associations including the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Council on Foundations. After serving as The Vision Council's director of marketing & shows from 2003-2006, Ashley returned to The Vision Council in January 2016 to lead The Vision Council's Vision Expo shows and later assumed the role of chief executive officer.

Ashley co-chairs the Optical Women's Association Digital Marketing Committee. A frequent speaker, Ashley has appeared on Executive Leader Radio and was recognized as one of Vision Monday's "Most Influential Women in Optical" for 2017.

Kate Renwick-Espinosa Portrait

Kate Renwick-Espinosa

2017 Honoree

Kate Renwick-Espinosa is the President of VSP Vision Care, the nation's largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company. She leads efforts to provide high quality eye care and eyewear services to 83 million members worldwide, supporting VSP's mission to help people see.

Renwick-Espinosa has worked for VSP for more than 25 years, and previously served as VSP Global's first Chief Marketing Officer. In that role, she led the organization's global marketing strategy to deliver its products and services to a diverse client base — including Fortune 500 companies, the federal government, and small businesses — as well as more than 77 million members and 34,000 doctors. Renwick-Espinosa's marketing and communications strategies resulted in historic domestic membership growth as well as the international expansion of VSP's offerings in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Renwick-Espinosa has been instrumental in helping VSP evolve to meet the demands of clients, members, and eye care providers. This includes rebranding multiple lines of business, developing new brands, launching new products and programs, and leveraging digital technology. She was responsible for creating VSP's marketing infrastructure as well as the development of a broad corporate social responsibility and charity program which has provided millions of dollars in free eye care and eyewear to hundreds of thousands of people in-need around the world.

Renwick-Espinosa was named one of Vision Monday's "Most Influential Women in Optical" in 2005 and was a 2013 recipient of the "Most Powerful and Influential Women Award" from the California Diversity Council. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, Davis, and a master's degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento.

"The positive response to Kate's nomination for the Pleiades Award was as expected — overwhelming! This award honors an individual for showing exceptional support in advancing the leadership role of women, and we are honored to present this prestigious award to such an inspiring leader," said Maureen Cavanagh, OWA President. "She has earned the respect of so many people in our industry, and that is exactly what we look for in our annual honoree."

Sue Downes Portrait

Sue Downes

2016 Honoree

Sue Downes, CEO of MyEyeDr., is driven today by the same goal that inspired her to co-found the company 14 years ago. Sue believed that patients received the finest vision care from their local independent optometrist. However, she recognized that the demands of the 21st century patient were outpacing what the independent optometrist could deliver. So she asked a simple question — could she surround independent practices with a management services team that could help deliver a great patient experience and meet the demands of a new generation of patients? With MyEyeDr., she has done just that.

From one office in 2001, she has led the growth of MyEyeDr. brand to over 200 locations across the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States, and more practices are joining every month.

Sue has built a brand that is as unique as she is and has created a brand identity for MyEyeDr. that connects independent optometry practices under one unifying mission — to provide the best vision wellness experience possible for patients. It's fun, it's fashion, it's a caring experience, and the results speak volumes about her leadership in the industry.

Her real skill is in her ability to share that vision with her team and instill that same commitment to the profession that she has demonstrated over the past 30 years.

Sue had an extensive career in the industry before starting MyEyeDr. She was the Director of Managed Vision Care with Hour Eyes and Eye Care Centers of America. In April of 2015, Sue was named CEO of MyEyeDr.

In addition to her work managing MyEyeDr. offices, Sue served on the advisory board for the Colombia Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and is a past board member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. She is the recipient of several prestigious honors including Montgomery County Chamber's "Spirit of Free Enterprise" Award, Vision Monday's 2011 Most Influential Women in Optical honor, the 2012 Smart CEO Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit and the 2015 ACG Corporate Growth Award.

Sue's many professional accomplishments are too long to list but for those that know her best they know that her proudest accomplishment is raising her two sons. Sue lives in Northern Virginia with her beloved husband, PJ, and has no plans to slow down — ever.

Maureen Cavanagh Headshot

Maureen Cavanagh

2015 Honoree

Maureen Cavanagh was recently named president of the Vision Impact Institute, currently supported by Essilor. The mission of the Vision Impact Institute is to raise awareness of the importance of healthy vision, including the socio-economic impact of Uncorrected Refractive Errors (URE) and quality-of-life benefits of visual correction.

Cavanagh joined Essilor in October 2005 as the director of DEFINITY lenses, launching DEFINITY throughout the Essilor network, following the acquisition of The Spectacle Lens Group. Soon after, she was named vice president of integrated retail, carving out a separate division and launching a new platform to specifically meet the needs of surfacing retail customers for Essilor. In December 2009, Cavanagh was promoted to president of Nassau Vision Group and OOGP, overseeing several stock lens and contact lens distribution centers, along with a local digital lens laboratory, Nova and the Shore Lens division.

Cavanagh is a strong advocate for women in leadership roles. She currently mentors several women in business and was integral in the launch of the Diversity and Inclusion initiative at Essilor. She has served as keynote speaker on topics of inspiring change and was a guest on the Power Hour radio show, advocating on behalf of women taking control of their own career development. In 2011 she was recognized as one of Jobson's "Most Influential Women in Optical."

Sherrie Rogerson Headshot

Sherrie Rogerson

2014 Honoree

The Optical Women's Association has selected Sherrie Rogerson as its 2014 Pleiades award recipient to be honored at the OWA's annual event at the Marchon Showroom, on Friday, March 28th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. "Sherrie has shown exceptional support and dedication to the women of the optical industry through her passion, involvement and commitment to the OWA. I couldn't imagine a more deserving recipient of the Pleiades Award. Congratulations, Sherrie!" said Christie Walker, OWA president.

Sherrie is the Senior Executive of Corporate Accounts, at REM Eyewear, drawing from 25 years of optical experience and a tremendous merchandising background. She has been active with the OWA since joining in 2004. In addition to serving on the board as chair and co-chair of various committees, Sherrie has also had the distinction of serving as OWA President. Her past relationships and networking helped in establishing the organization's Professional Development Fund. In 2003, Sherrie was recognized as one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Woman in Optical. She is also an ABO speaker and has presented retail training programs over the course of the past four years.

"Through the OWA, I have been fortunate to meet and interact with so many fabulous people. And hopefully have passed on some wisdom along the way through the various programs and networking opportunities. One thing I have learned and will always keep with me is that there is power in numbers and the power of these women is inspiring to all. Being on the board of the OWA has been the highlight of my career," said Rogerson.

The Pleiades Award spotlights an individual who has shown commitment to the mission of the OWA by fostering the growth of women in the industry. This award is named for the star cluster Pleiades in the Taurus constellation. The Pleiades is also known as the "Seven Sisters" referring to the seven brightest stars in the cluster.

Marge Axelrad Portrait

Marge Axelrad

2013 Honoree

Before Marge Axelrad discovered the optical industry and the industry discovered her, she was a business-to-business reporter in the men's apparel, department store, and home furnishings fields. A psychology major with a minor in literature, Axelrad always thought she'd end up in law school. Since her law boards were "mediocre," she decided to work in New York City for a year before retaking her boards. Her first job was with Fairchild Publications — the publisher of WWD and other trade magazines — as an admin assistant in sales. She hated it. Then one day, the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief quit and she was asked if she was interested in moving to the editorial side of the business. After being an editorial assistant, they eventually gave Axelrad her own "beat" — boy's clothing and men's socks!

Today Axelrad is the senior vice president/editorial director for Vision Monday and 20/20, though the majority of her time is spent on VM and its related businesses like VMail, VisionMonday print, and VisionMonday.com, as well as e-newsletters and live events like the VM Global Leadership Summit.

Axelrad's unwavering commitment to the OWA over the past 15 years makes her the perfect recipient of the 14th annual Pleiades award.

"I'm clearly convinced that what the OWA has accomplished is not something I've done, but it represents the work of all of the amazing individual women who have taken part in OWA since it started," said Axelrad. "That it is now a firmly established professional development group in the optical business — one that is attracting participation from women of all sectors, from newcomers to the business to experienced executives — is the best!"

Shirly Platzer-Stocks Portrait

Shirly Platzer-Stocks

2012 Honoree

OWA members, guests and industry leaders gathered at the Top of the Standard Hotel to celebrate the awarding of the 13th annual Pleiades Award to Shirley Platzer-Stocks, MBA, owner of SPS Associates and co-owner of The Optical Vision Site. The location of the event was amazing, with views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Special thanks to Marchon for making this event possible and to Vision Expo for providing transportation to the event.

Christie Walker Portrait

Christie Walker

2011 Honoree

Christie Walker, editor and journalist has been selected as the OWA's 2011 recipient of the prestigious Pleiades Award. The gala event and awards ceremony will be hosted by the OWA on Friday March 18th, 2011 in New York.

A writer in the 60's, a journalist in the 70's, the author of a book on motherhood in the 80's, a novelist in the 90's and an editor for the optical industry since 1997, Christie Walker has never strayed far from her passion, writing. As the editor of the trade magazine LabTalk, a Frames Data publication and part of Jobson Optical, Walker keeps the lab side of the industry up-to-date on the latest news, technology and equipment developments. She is responsible for all editorial content, photography and design concepts for her magazine. A team player, Walker also contributes to: 20 / 20magazine with her Street Seen photography; Vision Monday with photography and stories for the Show Dailies; and the Review of Optometry with photography and stories for SECO Daily. Most people would recognize her as the woman taking pictures at every optical event. She also works behind the scenes with Jobson's Creative Services Department writing consumer magazines, video scripts and brochures.

A "founding mother" of the Optical Women's Association, Walker was a member of the organization's original board and part of the team that created and named the Pleiades Award. She was a member of the publicity committee for several years and still contributes to that committee with her photography documenting OWA events. Currently a member of the program committee, Walker and her committee members are responsible for putting together the Professional Optical Women's Workshop program each year at Vision Expo West.

Working from home in Big Bear Lake, California, Walker also finds time to write romantic comedies, make jewelry for a local gallery, and protects the environment as the president of her local Sierra Club. She has two fabulous children, Erica and Brian, two step-children, Chelsey and Jamie, and a wonderful husband, Robbie, with whom she loves to travel, camp and explore.

Danne Venture Headshot

Danne Ventura

2010 Honoree

Danne Venture, an experienced dispensing optician, contact lens fitter and ophthalmic medical assistant has been selected as this year's recipient of the eleventh annual Pleiades Award which will be presented by the Optical Women's Association (OWA) on Friday March 19th, 2010.

Currently Danne serves as the Director of Professional Relations for Essilor of America. She has worked extensively in opticianry, optometry and ophthalmology. Her recent focus has been on school support systems, administering grants and creating and implementing student events.

She is an A.B.O. certified optician, N.C.L.E. registered contact lens fitter, J.C.A.H.P.O. certified ophthalmic medical assistant and Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, National Academy of Opticianry and the Opticians Association of America.

Danne is renowned for her extensive lecturing, teaching and publishing in the optical field. She has an extraordinary track record and the Pleiades award adds to her list of awards including: 

  • Co-recipient with Rodney Tahran O.D., American Optometric Student Association, The Ray I. Meyers Award (now The Founders Award), 1993

  • National Federation of Opticianry Schools Person of the Year Award, 1995

  • Jobson Publishing

    • 50 Most Influential Women in Optical, 2003

    • 20 Most Influential Women in Optical, 2007

    • Optical's Most Influential Women, Mentors, 2008

  • ATPO (Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology) President's Award, 2004

  • NAO (National Academy of Opticianry) Certificate of Recognition Award, 2006

  • JCAHPO (Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology) Statesmanship Award, 2007

Rene Soltis Portrait

Rene Soltis

2009 Honoree

Sharing the spotlight with family, friends and trusted advisors, Rene Soltis accepted the Optical Women's Association's (OWA) revered Annual Pleiades Award. This award was created to honor one individual each year that has shown exceptional support of the OWA and of women in the optical industry.

Over 200 attendees and "Rene" fans gathered at the Marchon Eyewear showroom to congratulate Rene and network with colleagues and friends. President Elect Laurie Badone opened the ceremony. Deborah Malakoff Castor and Dana Weeks, both past recipients of the award presented the 10th Annual Pleiades Award to Renee. Rene's heartfelt acceptance speech brought the crowd to tears as she shared her passion for reaching out and sharing the wisdom of experience to build a strong future for the industry.

Marge Axelrad, Sr. VP / Editorial Director, Jobson Optical Group and a founding member of the OWA had this to share, "Rene's passion for eyewear and the role it plays in people's lives has been apparent throughout her career. She's touched many within the profession with her creative ideas, lively training presentations and spokesperson appearances. Her influence has been widespread and she exemplifies all the qualities honored by the OWA's Pleiades Awards over the years."

Stephanie K. De Long Portrait

Stephanie K. De Long

2008 Honoree

Stephanie K. De Long, a 22-year veteran of the optical industry, was honored as this year's recipient of the ninth annual Pleiades Award. This award will be presented by the Optical Women's Association (OWA) on Friday April 11th at the Marchon showroom. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and the award was presented at 6:45 p.m.

Stephanie has been editor-in-chief of Eyecare Business, a Pennsylvania-based Wolters Kluwer publication, since 1990. She is a founding Board member of the OWA, a member of Vision Council of America's Strategic Communications Committee, a recipient of the OLA's Directors' Choice Award and Folio's Editorial Excellence Award (EB took first place honors in the retail trade magazine category). She is also a frequent speaker at International Vision Expos.

Before entering optical, De Long was a business writer, editor, and contributor to a variety of consumer and business publications, including Madison Avenue, Manhattan Inc., Management Technology, and the New Jersey Star Ledger. She was also co-owner and operator of an award-winning restaurant in Rye, New York. De Long is a graduate of Wells College in Aurora, New York, and began her career as a public relations writer for IBM. She lives in Lincoln, NE, with husband Ron, whom she met in the optical industry, and has one daughter, Heather, and a granddaughter, Ella, who live in CT.

The Pleiades Award spotlights an individual who has shown commitment to the mission of the OWA by fostering the growth of women in the industry. This award is named for the star cluster Pleiades in the Taurus constellation and is also known at the "Seven Sisters" referring to the seven brightest stars.

Deborah Malakoff Headshot

Deborah Malakoff

2007 Honoree

With over 20 years of experience in the optical industry, Deborah Malakoff serves as vice president of Trade Shows for the Vision Council of America, a non-profit trade association representing eyewear manufacturers. In her role, Malakoff works closely with Reed Exhibitions, the VCA Show and Exhibitor Advisory Committees to establish and direct the long range strategic goals and objectives of the International Vision Expo family of tradeshows.

Recruited from college into an Executive training program piloted by RCA records Malakoff started her career working in the art department designing album covers.

She transitioned into the optical industry in 1984 as marketing and visual merchandising manager for Eyelab, a Division of Quaker Oats, where she administered the marketing and media budget and led a team of visual merchandisers in the expansion from four stores to a chain of thirty-eight optical superstores. She later joined Bob Hillman in his next retail endeavor Hillman/Kohan Eyes, where she served as director of creative services. Here she was part of a senior management team responsible for executing a new retail concept that evolved into 10 fashion eyewear superstores.

Malakoff served on the Board of Directors for the Major American Tradeshow Organizers and is a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the Optical Women's Association and the American Society of Association Executives.

She holds both a bachelor's degree in Advertising Design and Marketing from the University of Maryland. In her spare time, Malakoff enjoys skiing, golfing, and traveling.

Janet Callif Headshot

Janet Callif

2006 Honoree

Janet Callif has built her 19- year optical career with Luxottica Retail North America, starting as a buyer and merchandiser in the founding years of LensCrafters. Janet now oversees the entire lens buying team for all Luxottica Retail optical bands as well as all store merchandising for LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut.

Her position enables Janet to do what she likes best, frequently visiting stores and talking with associates about what customers like and what they want. Most recently she enjoyed seeing the positive response of associates and customers to LensCrafters' newly launched FeatherWates® Complete lenses Made with Scotchgard™ Protector, a lens product that Janet helped bring to market.

Janet also believes community involvement is important to balance success in the workplace. She is a board member for Give the Gift of Sight Foundation, and recently finished a three-year term on the board of the Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency, which included projects like Headstart. Janet is a graduate of the Leadership Cincinnati program (Class 25) and is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where she earned her BSBA in marketing.

Mimi Friedfeld Headshot

Mimi Friedfeld

2005 Honoree

Mimi Friedfeld, co-owner, ClearVision Optical, is honored with the 6th Annual Pleiades Award at its cocktail and award reception on Friday, March 11, during the weekend of International Vision Expo in New York. The event will be held in the Marchon Eyewear Showroom located at 8 West 40th Street. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. The award presentation will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Friedfeld began her career with ClearVision Optical in 1968. Over the years, she managed the accounting and personnel departments and contributed to design of the company's fashionable eyewear products. Most notably, Friedfeld has helped her husband, ClearVision Optical founder Fred Friedfeld, grow the family-run business from a small regional wholesaler to one of today's most respected leading optical distribution companies.

Today, ClearVision Optical's business remains in the family. Mimi and Fred Friedfeld's son David serves as the company's president, and their son Peter serves as its executive vice president. Friedfeld stays involved with the company by holding a seat on its Board of Directors. She has been an active member of the OWA since its inception.

Dana Weeks Portrait

Dana Weeks

2004 Honoree

A member of a third-generation wholesale laboratory family, Dana joined her Father, Duane Reese, in 1988 at Optical Services International, which he founded. Since that time, OSI has become the largest independent wholesale laboratory association in the US. She has been president of OSI since 1990. Currently she directs all facets of the group’s activities, including pursuing new business opportunities for OSI members and developing and implementing marketing and educational programs for both the dispenser and consumer. She works closely with OSI’s vendors on premium product development, marketing new products and negotiating contracts. Dana has represented OSI at numerous industry conferences and events and serves as the group’s liaison to other industry groups such as the Optical Laboratories Association and Vision Council of America. She was selected as one of the 50 most influential women in optical in 2003 by Jobson Publishing.

Prior to coming to OSI, Dana was a National Account Representative for 3M Company. She is a single Mother of one grown son.

Carene S. Kunkler Portrait

Carene S. Kunkler

Sight Resource Corporation

2003 Honoree

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Andrea Gluck Headshot

Andrea Gluck

Eyeware Designs

2002 Honoree

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Tom Styers with his team

Tom Styers

Southern Optical

2001 Honoree

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Pat Patterson Photo

Pat Patterson

Walman Optical

2000 Honoree

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