2022 OWL Awards Finalists | OWL Cary, NC | OWL

2022 OWL Awards Finalists

Visionary Leader Award

OWL’s Visionary Leader Award honors an individual who has paved the way for diversity in their field through significant achievement.  Nominees should have demonstrated leadership in their field through their careers.


Jeannette Bankes
Nominee Statement

Jeannette Bankes is the President and General Manager of the Global Surgical Franchise at Alcon, where her responsibilities include strategic leadership and oversight of product development, portfolio management and commercialization of products. In more than 30 years in the healthcare space, she has served in many roles, including domestic/international marketing, sales, clinical trials, regulatory, medical affairs, medical education, operations, and manufacturing.  She currently serves on the boards of the ASCRS Foundation, Apollo Endosurgery, and Aurion Biotech. “What makes Jeannette special is that she thinks beyond her team—she is genuinely interested in the community at large and the people in it,” said one nominator. 

Ms. Bankes is passionate about mentorship. She plays a critical role in supporting Alcon’s employee resource groups (ERGs) and the company’s relationship with Girls, Inc., which supports girls who are interested in STEM careers. “Jeannette is a visionary leader who always has a pulse on future trends and actively works to bring emerging technologies that will leave a lasting impact on ophthalmologists and their patients,” a nominator said.

Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD
Nominee Statement

Eric Donnenfeld is a clinical professor of ophthalmology at New York University and in practice at Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island.  He is an internationally recognized expert with more than 215 peer-reviewed papers, 45 book chapters, and 3 books as well as many named lectures around the world. Dr. Donnenfeld is a past president of ASCRS and OMIG, Trustee of Dartmouth Medical School, Editor in Chief of EyeWorld, and the President of the International Intraocular Implant Club.  He was an initial FDA investigator of Restasis, Xiidra, laser vision correction, the femtosecond laser and many refractive IOLs. Dr. Donnenfeld was named America’s Best Eye Doctor in 2021 and 2022 by Newsweek and one of the 50 most influential people in ophthalmology for 2020, 2021, and 2022 by The Ophthalmologist.

“Dr. Donnenfeld is an incredible advocate and mentor for so many in ophthalmology,” said his nominator. “He is a strong supporter of OWL and is a strong voice to support leadership and diversity in our industry.”

Nancy Lurker, MBA
Nominee Statement

Nancy Lurker has been CEO and Board Director of EyePoint Pharmaceuticals, a NASDAQ-listed public company, since 2016.  She previously held executive positions at PDI, a NASDAQ-listed healthcare commercialization company (now Interpace Diagnostics Group), Pharmacia Corporation (now part of Pfizer), and Novartis and has served on numerous boards. Her nominator describes her as a “mission-driven, science-focused leader and an outspoken advocate for women and diversity in STEM.”  

 As one of only a small percentage of female CEOs in the biopharmaceutical and healthcare industry, Ms. Lurker has always felt an obligation to pay forward the insights and opportunities that she has fought for her entire career. She is deeply committed to inspiring and advancing women and diversity in STEM and mentoring young women. At EyePoint she has challenged leaders across the company to ensure that women are involved in all areas of the business and on speaker panels and advisory boards. “Rather than just talk the talk, she makes it a true priority to bring women’s voices and leadership into every facet of the organization,” her nominator said.

Catalyst Award

OWL’s Catalyst Award honors an individual who has contributed significantly to helping others advance their career in eye care.  Nominees should have demonstrated leadership in supporting the advancement of diversity.  (For example: mentoring/sponsorship of promising individuals; diversity advocacy; or creating a culture of equality).


Susan Benton
Nominee Statement

Susan Benton is President of Thea Pharma US, and serves on the boards of Ocuphire Pharma, Tarsier Pharma, and Ripple Therapeutics.  She has more than 25 years of global commercial and business development experience in ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, formerly holding leadership positions at Shire, Bausch + Lomb, and Sirion Therapeutics.

As Ms. Benton’s nominator said, “Her expertise is unmatched and her strong and empathetic leadership is legendary. She faced several challenges in a male-dominated corporate culture – and she dedicated her career to changing the game through mentorship, sponsorship, and cultivating female leaders. Without bold catalysts like Susan, I wouldn’t have had the chances I have now…thank you for making it a little bit easier than you had it, Susan….and, more FUN!”

Ranna Jaraha
Nominee Statement

Ranna Jaraha has multiple roles at Bryn Mawr Communications (BMC), a multifaceted medical media company supporting print, digital, and live tactics. She is one of the Cofounders of YoungMD Connect, a membership-based mentorship and educational platform for aspiring and young ophthalmologists. She is also the Executive Director of New Media; in this role, she supports business development and works closely with physicians and industry leaders on targeted digital programs and strategic engagements. Additionally, Ms. Jaraha hosts a weekly news broadcast, EyewireTV, which reviews industry updates in eye care; she hosts similar programs in the dermatology and aesthetics specialties as well. 

“Ranna brings the industry together through her role at BMC and specifically through the insightful interviews she does of existing and emerging leaders. She helps us all to better understand and stay in touch with the rapidly changing landscape,” says her nominator.

Magda Michna, PhD
Nominee Statement

Magda Michna is the Chief Global Clinical, Medical and Regulatory Affairs Officer at AcuFocus, Inc.  Originally from Poland, she grew up in Australia, and received her PhD in optical physics from the University of Melbourne. Dr. Michna is co-chair of the Southern California OWL chapter as well as the national OWL programs committee.
Having seen the huge impact that the Australian Institute of Physics’ Women in Physics organization made on her as a young female physicist, Dr. Michna was an early advocate for mentoring and supporting others as they navigate their research careers.  She has made it her mission to recruit promising individuals and help young professionals get a start in clinical research in eye care. “Magda has demonstrated a passion for supporting the advancement of diversity with OWL. She has been integral to selecting a diverse pool of speakers for OWL programs. Magda is an excellent leader and cares deeply about raising up those around her,” said her nominator.

Rising Star Award

OWL’s Rising Star Award honors an individual who is an emerging leader in the ophthalmic space.  These award finalists are in their early or mid-careers and demonstrate high potential for making an impact in ophthalmology.


Jacqueline Armani, OD, FAAO, MSL-BC
Nominee Statement

Jacqueline Armani is the Regional Director, Medical Science Liaisons – East at Alcon, where she supports medical affairs and research. During optometry school, she externed at Bascom Palmer and, following graduation, did her residency at the VA as a primary care and ocular disease optometrist.

Dr. Armani has extensive clinical experience, has trained and mentored residents and students, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. She has participated in medical mission trips in South Africa, Colombia, Jamaica, and Trinidad and is actively involved with the College of Staten Island Alumni Board and in WIN (Women Innovating Now), as well as participating in events for WIO, Women in Optometry and OWL.

As a young optometrist, Dr. Armani has demonstrated not only expertise in her field, but also management skills.  “She will be a star in the ophthalmology community for decades to come,” said one nominator.  “She brings you up to her level and drives the entire ophthalmology community forward. She knows how to lead, whether that is from the cockpit or the rear of the aircraft.”  Another wrote that “Jackie is an example of what everyone would want to be. She represents Alcon with class, dignity and a smile at every event she attends.”

Kate Fehlhaber, PhD
Nominee Statement

Kate Fehlhaber is Senior Director of Global Project Strategy for The Fundingsland Group, an independent medical education company. In this role, she creates compelling, compliant, and effective peer-to-peer education. She believes that continuing medical education is fundamental to helping doctors make the best decisions for their patients. While studying the molecular mechanisms of the first synapse of sight for her doctorate in neuroscience, Dr. Felhaber founded Knowing Neurons, a creative education website dedicated to making neuroscience more accessible to the general public. Knowing Neurons won the 2016 Next Generation Award from the Society for Neuroscience, has been featured in Forbes magazine, and is currently listed as #3 on Feedspot’s Top 90 Neuroscience Blogs.

Dr. Fehlhaber is an active member of OWL. She was selected as a 2020 OWL Fellow and is currently Co-Chair of the Membership Impact Committee. She has served on the SoCal Planning Committee since 2020 and served on the Marketing & Outreach Committee in 2019. She organized the 2019 and 2022 OWL Surveys and hosted a webinar to examine the results last year. “Kate is amazingly smart and insightful,” said a nominator.  “With her leadership drive and ability, positive attitude, and willingness to go above and beyond, she is absolutely going to do great things in her career.”

Maáza Martin
Nominee Statement

Maáza Martin is Senior Director of Marketing for Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, where she is a leader on internal teams responsible for the launch readiness of the company’s flagship pipeline therapy for Demodex blepharitis, and three other pipeline indications in eyecare, dermatology and infectious disease prevention. She has played a critical role in championing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at Tarsus, including helping to form the company’s DEI council and spearheading the development and execution of Juneteenth programming and engagement. Ms. Martin has also served in marketing, strategic consulting, and analytics roles at Avanir, IMS Health (now Iqvia), and Allergan, where she helped to drive the company’s Restasis brand to sustained blockbuster status. 

Ms. Martin has co-chaired OWL’s programming committee and led the programming for OWL’s AAO Signature Events, most notably securing impactful speakers and developing dynamic program content designed to educate and enrich members’ knowledge. “Maáza is a true advocate for diversity and inclusion and is working to create and foster a supportive, dynamic culture and environment both in her role at Tarsus and through her volunteer role with OWL,” said her nominator.

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