OWL's ESCRS 2023 event on Sunday, September 10, at 7 pm, promises an evening of visionary leadership and collaboration in ophthalmic innovation.
OWL: Advancing Diversity in Leadership was established in the US in 2004 and up until this time has predominantly focused its activities within the US. Earlier aspirations for an intentional expansion across the pond were put on hold once the pandemic hit.
As readers may know, OWL’s mission is “to provide professional and personal development and create opportunities for collaboration” with a vision to “promote and develop diverse leadership to advance ophthalmic innovation and patient care.”
OWL had been receiving requests from current and potential OUS members to consider a European presence, to help strengthen their networks and expand opportunities for diverse candidates in much the same way as OWL does in the US.
OWL’s European Committee was formed to help lead the way with committed volunteers who believe in OWL’s mission and have attended events at major congresses such as ASCRS and AAO. We offer sincere thanks to our fellow Committee members: Amanda Carones, Jana Dallmann, Marisley De Almeida, Neil Hanley, Ana Neves, Erin Schallhorn Powers, Bernie Ursell and Stefanie Volland.
OWL not only recognises current ophthalmic world leaders, but also the importance of supporting and developing those leaders of the future. Our legacy is to ensure continuous collaboration with the ultimate goal of benefitting advances in eyecare. Our committee members have made significant contributions within this field and are passionate in supporting OWL’s cause to facilitate optimised cohesion and collaboration across the community, to benefit those who we all serve and who most need it: our patients. We recognise that this is most likely achieved if we work together, and we believe OWL offers a unique opportunity to support this and to maximise our success collectively. The question is, how this is best achieved in Europe, having had the benefit of learning from the incredible successes in the US? We recognise and appreciate differences in culture and needs across regions.
To this end, we would like to ask for feedback from our eyecare colleagues - members and interested parties outside the US - in a brief survey. The results from this survey initiative will empower us to scope our activities according to the needs of our stakeholders, so we can develop relevant educational programmes and networking opportunities, bringing together the eyecare community across Europe.
Help us to share this brief, user-friendly questionnaire to everyone involved in our field (ophthalmologists, optometrists, industry, service providers, health care professionals, etc.) and based within Europe. We would love to hear from you – what would you like to see more of? And how could an organisation such as OWL support these needs to foster and optimise collaboration industry wide?
Although OWL has held smaller networking receptions in Europe, as we look ahead, we want to see events increase in size, include programme discussions and have potential for impact - so that OWL can become recognised as a global community with networking and personal/professional development opportunities that support the ophthalmic community as a whole.
We are very excited about the event we are planning for ESCRS in Vienna. We see this as an inaugural programme for OWL in Europe, during which we will be presenting our vision for the future, and showcasing a keynote speaker that we are hugely excited about.
We invite you to join us for this event on Sunday 10th September at 7pm and look forward to sharing the next steps for OWL in Europe.
Louise Veenhuis and Sally Tucker feel honoured to represent OWL as the Co-Chairs for the European Committee but are indebted to the time, support and expertise that the Committee provides as a whole. “The talent, enthusiasm and dedication of everyone in the committee makes for an opportunity for growth and impact that we both feel honoured to be a part of.”
Both Louise and Sally both started their careers as optometrists, with Sally going on to complete a PhD in ophthalmology and with them both diversifying further with business qualifications. They are both working mothers and wives, investing in the development and growth of 3 children each, and as such are also passionate advocates for equality and equity within the workplace, as well as at home! “Education and setting an example are essential, starting at home - encouraging mutual respect, equality in stature, empowerment and self-love in our sons and daughters alike.”
They are excited to be working with OWL and the valued members of the European Committee: “We are hugely invested and passionate about eyecare, having dedicated our careers to this in the past and committed to do so for the foreseeable future. We admire the value that OWL has brought elsewhere and would love to see this expand across Europe, where we have so much talent and dedication within eyecare. We believe that through collaboration, respect and cohesion we can work to make a positive difference across the industry, putting the patient at the centre. We look forward to your feedback, shaping the scope of our next steps to make this vision a reality.”