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OWA Talks Podcast

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September 2021 — Carissa Dunphy
Using Influence and Opportunity for Professional Growth

Carissa Dunphy

Most people won't be doing the same thing at the beginning of their career as they will be at the end. Carissa Dunphy explains how you can best utilize opportunities with contacts as well as your influence to professionally evolve throughout your career.

Carissa Dunphy is an ABO Certified optician who has been working in the optical industry since 2008. She works in a thriving five doctor private optometry practice just outside of Seattle in the tech arena of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many others. Prior to working in optometry, Carissa was a certified computer applications specialist, building websites for small businesses and provisioned servers. She also hosted a live video podcast, interviewing prominent entrepreneurs. After seeing a need for a static resource for opticians, Carissa combined her knowledge and desire to help people with her love for opticianry and technology, and founded Optician Now.


Monthly chats featuring influential optical leaders sharing their insights and stories on trending topics that matter.

Click here to learn more about our hosts — Sandra Mohr and Stephanie Espinosa.

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Click here to view the 2020 OWA Podcasts.

In 2020 we created the OWA Talks Podcast to be a modern version of the past Tuesday Talks program. You can always view an archive of our Tuesday Talks presentations here.


August 2021 — Dr. Jennifer Stewart
Unlocking the Power of Connections

Dr. Jennifer Stewart

A driving passion, combined with hard work and strong connections, are key to creating a successful career path. In this month's podcast, Dr. Stewart shares her tips and strategies for developing powerful relationships that will help you discover just what your passions are, grow your knowledge of topics you care about, and take advantage of opportunities available to help you reach your goals.

Dr. Jennifer Stewart is an optometrist, speaker, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur. She is a partner at Norwalk Eye Care in Norwalk, Connecticut, 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 a delegate for the NECO Alumni Board, a Director for the Connecticut Association of Optometrists, and a Member Director for IDOC. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the New England College of Optometry.

With a deep interest in sports vision, Dr. Stewart is the Co-Founder of 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.

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.


July 2021 — Julie Hawkins and Nancy Gries
Practicality with Style!

Nancy Gries and Julie Hawkins

Nancy Gries and Julie Hawkins have a long and successful career history of over 50 combined years in the optical industry. They have used that experience, their passion, and a lot of ingenuity to create their own business, CotiVision, a company dedicated to mixing fashion and flair with the practicality of reading glasses. Listen to their podcast to find out why they chose to make this change in their professional lives and what they have learned since 2019, when they first launched their company. They'll also talk about their appearance on the BBC program "Dragon's Den", the UK version of "Shark Tank", in April 2021.

We are Nancy Gries and Julie Hawkins, 50+ year-old ladies who met at work two decades ago. Together we have over 50 years' experience in the optical industry. A few years ago, we both encountered experiences which left us feeling taken advantage of and vulnerable. So, we ventured out and created our own brand called CotiVision (COTI being the acronym for "Chuckle on the Inside"). We wanted to come up with a different approach to ready reading glasses, to break the old age perception, and to create a unique and original collection guaranteed to restore some fun into growing up!

Those of us over 40 know the stigma attached to hitting this milestone and feeling the need to extend things at arm's length to read small print. Unfortunately, deteriorating eyesight is a consequence of age. Ready reading glasses are fundamental for most, but they never seem to be there when we need them! So was born our CotiVision necklace reading glasses, which are simply worn around the neck and lifted when needed. Gone are the days of rummaging around to find them left lying on the desk/counter, in the bottom of our handbag, or perched on top of our head. Worn around the neck, they are always at our fingertips.

Growing old doesn't have to mean being boring! Our approach to reading glasses can be extended to the issues that face an aging population in general. This lends itself to other discussion topics like hair, make-up, menopause, mental health, etc.

One of our prized mentors once said, "We have been gifted two ears and one mouth; we need to remember to use them in that proportion". From our experiences and maturity, we have learned to "listen" to situations and "hear" with both ears, but we are not afraid to speak up with questions or ask for clarification and advice. By using the gifts we have been given, we have become people who can be counted on. Being a person who can be counted on builds trust, which is the foundation for building strong relationships. We aim to celebrate every day and approach life with a sense of creativity and fun. We are "normal" middle aged ladies who feel we have a story to tell and hope to inspire, educate, and motivate others.

Here's to our cheeky slogan of "Raise your Glasses"!


June 2021 — Dr. Howard Purcell
Innovation Adaptation in Optometric Colleges

Howard Purcell

What's going on at the schools and colleges of optometry? All 23 optometry schools have had to rapidly adapt during the pandemic in order to continue supporting their students' successful learning journeys. Committed faculty are preparing their students for the future of our always-evolving profession while continuing to grow the skills they'll need. Dr. Howard Purcell believes that today's students are looking for flexibility, the ability to select from different learning experiences, and to be part of an inclusive learning environment. Current graduates are well prepared to enter the profession and change the way we see the world!

Howard Purcell, O.D., F.A.A.O., Diplomate and FNAP has been President and CEO of the New England College of Optometry (NECO) since July 2018. Before assuming his leadership role at NECO, he served as Senior Vice President at Essilor of America and Senior Director at Johnson and Johnson Vision Care. A second-generation graduate of the New England College of Optometry, Dr. Purcell also participated in a group optometric practice for eleven years with his father in Miami Beach, FL.

Beginning in June 1991, Dr. Purcell joined the faculty of Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry. During his career at the college, he was a principle in the development of the Department of Cornea and Contact Lenses. Reaching the rank of Associate Professor, Dr. Purcell was responsible for both the didactic and clinical components of the program, serving as the Deputy Dean of the college.

Dr. Purcell is a Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies Section of the American Academy of Optometry

His energetic and enthusiastic style has made Dr. Purcell a popular lecturer internationally. Purcell's unique philosophies and practices have often attracted the media to focus attention on current optometric issues and research in the industry.


May 2021 — Katie Lauver
Finding Balance: Creating Work / Life Symmetry Pre-and Post-Pandemic

Katie Lauver

It's been said that women are far more capable of multi-tasking than men, but when you're working full time, raising a child, and a pandemic strikes, is it possible to juggle it all? In this podcast we hear from Katie Lauver, a busy mom to a high-energy toddler and VP of Business Relations at GPN Technologies. Katie has been working from home both pre-and post-pandemic while raising her son. She tells us how she creates her work/life balance, knowing when to "close the office" in a time when so many of us feel the pull to keep working from our home desk, no matter what the hour.

Katie Lauver is a certified optician and the VP of Business Relations at GPN Technologies. A graduate of Ferrum College and the National Academy of Opticianry, Katie worked as the optical business manager for a high-volume practice before joining GPN. Katie is passionate about helping business owners be successful in their ventures and works to educate doctors and staff members on how to increase revenue in their practices. A former writer for both Daily Optician.com and Invision magazine, Katie hopes to be able to utilize her optical and business experience to move the industry forward by providing detailed content on how to be successful.

In her spare time, Katie enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, and fishing with her little boy and husband, and, through her health coaching practice, educating women on how to live healthier lives.


April 2021 — Ashley Mills
The Vision Council Offers a Sneak Preview of Vision Expo East 2021

Ashley Mills

The Vision Council, the trade organization representing more than 700 companies in the vision care industry, and co-owner of Vision Expo, has been busy planning for Vision Expo East 2021, scheduled to take place for the first time ever in Orlando, Florida, from June 2-5, 2021. Join Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, for an engaging conversation on what to expect at the first major in-person trade show since 2019. Mills breaks down the different neighborhoods that will be featured at the show, speaks to health and safety guidelines that will be in place, highlights some of the exciting CE to look forward to, and tells us what she is most excited about.

Mills also shares her own personal story — how she got started in the industry and at The Vision Council — and her advice for those just launching their careers.

Ashley Mills is the CEO of The Vision Council, the industry association serving as a global voice for eyewear and eyecare that represents companies in diverse segments of the optical industry. In this role, she works to promote growth in the vision care industry through education, advocacy, research, and industry forums, and is deeply committed to cultivating strong, effective partnerships throughout the optical arena and in adjacent sectors.

Mills brings over 20 years of progressive communications, philanthropy, and trade association experience to The Vision Council after several years in both consulting and association roles with major organizations, including the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Council on Foundations.

After serving as The Vision Council's Director of Marketing and Shows from 2003–2006, Mills returned in January 2016 to lead The Vision Council's International Vision Expo shows. Mills has been named one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in Optical and serves on the board of the Optical Women's Association, chairing the Finance Committee.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, she and her husband, Jeff, live in Bethesda, Maryland, with their two children.


March 2021 — Kate Hamm, OD
Exploring the Wage Gap

Kate Hamm

Every March, we celebrate Women's History Month to honor women's contributions in American history. This month's episode with Kate Hamm, OD, celebrates women while also focusing on the need for a more equal and inclusive workplace for them. She explains why negotiating and mentoring are two valuable methods you can use to reach that goal.

While still in optometry school, Dr. Hamm began analyzing the various components that contributed to the gender wage gap. One of her biggest passions is encouraging women to become better negotiators as a way to work toward shrinking that gap. Improving negotiating skills can help salary and promotion discussions become less awkward and sticky; once women understand and appreciate their own merits, they can advocate better for themselves when opportunities arise, leading to creative solutions for both parties.

Kate Hamm, OD, serves as the Senior Manager of OD Engagement at Luxottica. She is a Kansas native and graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in physical sciences and minors in physics and biology. After graduation, Kate attended the University of Missouri — St. Louis College of Optometry where she served in leadership roles, researched visual perception in dyslexia, and advocated for optometrists on a national scale. At graduation in 2019, Kate was awarded the Raymond Meyers Leadership Award, the COVD Pediatric Care Award, and the Optometry Scholars Award. After optometry school, Kate spent time in Dallas working with Essilor of America as an intern with the professional development team. Kate then joined a private practice in Wichita, KS, where she saw patients for 2 years before joining Luxottica in her current role. Kate lives in Wichita with her husband where she is usually watching football, connecting with her community, or finding new foods to try.

You can connect with Dr. Hamm via Instagram @DrInstaHamm or by listening to her podcast, Lunch Date with Rachel and Kate.


February 2021 — Karen Giberson
What's Happening in the Accessories Market in 2021

Karen Giberson

Meet Karen Giberson — President and CEO of the Accessories Council, Editor-in-Chief of AC Magazine, and EMMY Award winner! A genuine "retail insider", Karen has years of experience in communications, merchandising, marketing and public relations. As President & CEO of the Accessories Council, a non-profit advocacy group, she represents a $50B+ industry of over 350 dynamic member companies in the fashion footwear, accessory, and jewelry markets. Beyond current members, Karen works with hundreds of brands, retailers, licensees, talent, and industry support executives.

She is charged with being a voice for the industry and leads efforts to assist with legislative issues, sales, and awareness. Her position gives her a unique perspective and, as a business partner vs client, she gets a realistic view of the opportunities and challenges these companies face. She is action-oriented and works to maximize and resolve opportunities and challenges.

At the Accessories Council, Karen creates and oversees production of educational events, mentoring programs, the industry newsletter, charitable efforts, and fundraising galas. She advocates for policy, has testified in front of Congress and local governments, and has retained lobby groups to positively impact the accessories industry. She is a prolific author and has been published in many trade papers.

Most notoriously, she runs the esteemed ACE Awards, one of the fashion industries' leading events. She established many other foundation events at the Council as well, including the Hall of Fame awards, The Elaine Gold Launchpad, the Accessories Innovation Committee, the Design Excellence Awards, B.A.B.E. (a women's networking event), and Retail/Wholesale "meet days", to name a few.

In January 2021, Karen relaunched Accessories Magazine, a quarterly publication that features the accessories, jewelry, and footwear industries. Karen is a prolific author and major contributor to the publication.

Karen started her career in the executive training program at Macy's and there held a number of positions, including a two-year post in their jewelry-buying department. She then joined QVC where her career blossomed, culminating in a beloved position as director of event marketing.  She was also the director of accessories, footwear and intimate apparel and senior buyer of accessories, footwear, and intimate apparel. She created and launched the company's event marketing division, which created events such as "Shoes on Sale", "Extreme Shopping", and "Red Carpet Weekends".

She is an EMMY award-winning executive producer of "Avec Eric," a PBS broadcasted television show featuring star chef Eric Ripert that was named Outstanding Culinary Program in 2010. She was named one of Philadelphia's Most Fashionable Women 2012, Main Line Today's Power Women List in 2013, 2016 Accessories Council ACE Award Winner, and 2017 Mann Foundation Leading Lady Honoree.

Despite her fashion background, Karen is a grounded and down-to-earth individual! She can be found running Spartan Races, is a fitness enthusiast, and loves spending time with her family and friends.


January 2021 — Elizabeth Klunk and Caroline Hickam
GO RED for WOMEN . . . it's more than just our red dresses in February!

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer of women. It claims more women's lives than all forms of cancer combined! Learn how Go Red for Women, from the American Heart Association (AHA), educates, promotes awareness, and is positively impacting the heath of women related to CVD.

Speaking on behalf of the AHA are podcast guests Elizabeth Klunk and Caroline Hickam.

Elizabeth Klunk

Elizabeth Klunk, RN, BSN, CCM-R, is the Senior Vice President of Medical Management at Versant Health. She has more than 30 years of experience in acute hospital, healthcare payer, healthcare service delivery operations, and healthcare consulting & clinical outsource operations. Liz is a Certified Case Manager and a Registered Nurse in three states; as well as an expert in regulatory and compliance, particularly when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. She is a firm believer that annual eye exams are not only critical for vision and eye health, but overall health as well.

Caroline Hickam

Caroline Hickam is the Director of Go Red for Women with the American Heart Association (AHA) in Baltimore, Maryland. She uses her personal survivor story and passion to foster relationships that benefit the mission of the AHA. Specifically, she works to improve the conditions of women who are impacted by cardiovascular diseases by advocating for women to listen to their bodies, make healthy lifestyle choices, and put themselves first. Caroline loves using her story and passion to connect with others, learn their passions, and work with each other to improve the communities we are a part of both small and large. Feeling personally connected to the work she does both in the office and out empowers her to continue making positive change.