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What is the Optical Women's Association's 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. This award is named after the star cluster "The Pleiades" in the constellation of Taurus. "The Pleiades" is also known as the "Seven Sisters" - referring to the seven brightest stars in the cluster.

According to Greek mythology, each star was named after the seven daughters of Atlas who were turned into stars by Zeus. Together these stars create one of the brightest clusters visible in the northern hemisphere, just as by working together, the women of the OWA have created an organization that is bigger and brighter than the sum of their individual efforts.

Karen Roberts

2023 Pleiades Award Recipient, Karen Roberts

Karen Roberts is Head of Global Customer Enablement for Carl Zeiss Vision International. In this role, she 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.

Pleiades Award — Past Honorees

Click on the award winners' names from 2003 forward to see more information about the Pleiades Award recipient.

2023 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Karen RobertsCarl Zeiss Vision International

2022 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Erinn MorganEyecare Business

2021 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Gai Gherardil.a.Eyeworks

2020 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Millicent Knight, ODEssilor of America

2019 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Holly RushCosta Del Mar, Inc.

2018 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Ashley MillsThe Vision Council

2017 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Kate Renwick-EspinosaVSP Vision Care

2016 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Sue DownesMyEyeDr.

2015 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Maureen CavanaghVision Impact Institute

2014 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Sherrie RogersonREM Eyewear

2013 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Marge AxelradJobson Optical Group
Press Release

2012 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Shirley Platzer-StocksThe Optical Vision Site LLC and SPS Associates
Press Release

2011 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Christie WalkerJobson Optical
Press Release

2010 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Danne VenturaEssilor of America
2010 Awards Cocktail Reception and Presentation

2009 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Rene SoltisThe Vision Council

2008 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Stephanie K. De LongEyecare Business

2007 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Deborah MalakoffVision Council of America

2006 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Janet CallifLuxottica

2005 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Mimi FriedfeldClearVision Optical

2004 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Dana WeeksOptical Services International

2003 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Carene S. Kunkler — Sight Resource Corporation

2002 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Andrea Gluck — Eyewear Designs

2001 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Tom Styers — Southern Optical

2000 OWA Pleiades Honoree — Pat Patterson — Walman Optical

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