Belinda Bellows

Director of Product Development and Marketing
ImageWear/Walman Optical
Minneapolis, Minn.

Chosen Because...“It is never easy for a lab to introduce their own brands and she has successfully developed and marketed key Walman and ImageWear brands, including the popular Wildflower and Callaway products, as well as the WayCool children’s frame package.”

Bellows started at Walman Optical in 1991 after completing the optical technician course and receiving her ABO certification from Anoka Technical College. “I must have been destined to work in the optical industry,” said Bellows. “Enrolling in an optical course after moving to Minneapolis was just the right solution for me and I have enjoyed the opportunity and challenges ever since.”

Those opportunities have included various positions within Walman’s frame business where she is now director of product development and marketing for their ImageWear division.

“I currently create and oversee ImageWear’s portfolio of eyewear, sunwear and accessories, which really is a dream job. It’s creative and allows me to continually evolve and grow. The people I work with believe in me. I am respected and I respect my co-workers in return. It’s a great team environment.”

Bellows continued, “I have been fortune to have had the opportunity to work with many leaders in today’s eyewear industry. I find the optical industry a very tight knit group that loves to share ideas, successes and innovations. In a way, we’re all one big team.”

SHE SAYS…“The optical industry is welcoming and accepting. You’re able to network and share ideas, which I believe is unique in today’s world. There are always new surprises around the corner and there is room to leave your mark if you’re willing and brave enough to do so.”

Juanita Burke

Director of Customer Relations
Austin, Texas

Chosen Because...“Juanita Burke is a guiding and steadying force for our business through her ability to proactively address problems and create solutions. She handles all situations with a professionalism and grace that makes it a privilege to work with her.”

Though she was introduced to the world of optical by chance, Juanita Burke’s long career in the industry has been anything but. Credited as a mentor by each of her four nominators, Burke has been in the optical field since 1971 when she started with Frontier Contact Lenses in Jacksonville, Fla. while still in high school. Since then, she has moved up the ranks in customer service and joined VisionWeb in November 2001.

“I’ve always worked with more start-up companies, which is great because I could create the customer service team the way I wanted and really set the tone for that company.” Burke credits Elizabeth O’ Brien, Fran Mirmina, Dennis McCarthy (all from her time at Johnson & Johnson and Vistakon) as mentors and added, “Somehow, we are always supporting someone’s vision. We do electronic ordering at VisionWeb but really, we’re helping people get the right information to see better. That’s a pretty cool thing.”

SHE SAYS…“I think the optical industry is fantastic because it’s so diverse. Once you get in this business, you can’t seem to leave. I’m not sure why that is but for me, I never felt the need to go anywhere.”

Heather Carpenter

Medical Project Coordinator
Nationwide Vision Center
Chandler, Ariz.

Chosen Because...“Heather influences the Nationwide Vision Center team of 75 doctors and 75 optical technicians, plus optical staff. She is driven and exudes her wonderful personality across all the levels of office staff.”

In the industry for 11 years, Heather Carpenter started at Standard Optical as a district manager before moving over to Nationwide Vision Center as a medical project coordinator back in 2005. Today, through strong leadership and continuous training, Carpenter teaches medical technicians the skills needed to provide the best possible patient care, while assisting Nationwide Vision Center doctors.

“I have been very fortunate to have many amazing mentors at Nationwide Vision. Al Bernstein, Vince Hayes, and Dr. Mark Peller have all taught me the true meaning of leadership, dedication, and commitment along with putting patient care first,” said Carpenter who is ABO and NCLE certified. As the medical project coordinator, Carpenter opened and currently oversees the two Nationwide Vision Medical Eye Centers, launched the company’s diabetic and glaucoma programs, implemented an EMR system, ExamWriter in all 61 locations and assisted in launching the company’s general ophthalmological practice.

SHE SAYS…“It is easy to come to work when you truly love what you do, enjoy the people you work with and believe in the company you work for. I strive to be an example for other young women who wish to elevate their career paths by providing them a solid base of medical optometric knowledge.”

Cathy Evans

Director of Ophthalmic Services
Pacific University College of Optometry
Forest Grove, Ore.

Chosen Because...“She represents Pacific University with positive influence to the communities around Portland and overseas. Cathy Evans is an excellent role model for all who come in contact and work with her.”

Training optometry students in the skills of dispensing glasses has allowed Evans to pass on her personal business philosophy to tomorrow’s optometrists. “Always remember the change you can make in every single patient’s quality of life with the right eyewear. Great frames along with the right lenses can make a patient walk out of your office feeling like a million bucks!”

As director of ophthalmic services at Pacific University, Evans oversees the operations of the school’s five optical dispensaries known as Pacific EyeTrends and teaches optics to second year students. She recently began providing continuing education for para-optometrics and opticians at Pacific’s Victoria, B.C. Conference and Island Eyes in Maui.

Starting out as an apprentice to a group of opticians in 1974, Evans went on to own her own practice, Oswego Optique, in Oregon before arriving at Pacific University in 2007. She is certified ABOC by the ABO, is a member of the Optician’s Association of Oregon, and is a Fellow Member of the National Academy of Opticianry.

Evans admits that teaching remains her greatest challenge. “I want so much for the future doctors of optometry attending Pacific University to understand that how the prescription is filled is every bit as important as the refraction.”

SHE SAYS…“My passion for my profession keeps me focused and driven. The success I’ve enjoyed so far has come from not letting fear get in my way, and by embracing change.”

Mary Kane

Executive Editor
Vision Monday
New York, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“She brings a great sense of responsibility and skill to her demanding role at VM and is recognized both inside and outside the company as a great team builder.”

A New Jersey native, Kane was always intrigued by publishing but cites an influential high school teacher as the one who convinced her to apply to Fordham University’s communications program where she earned her B.A. Her career began at Travel Weekly, first on the copy desk, then print production and reporting on the cruise and Caribbean beats. She “got to see the world” at the leading travel trade pub for nearly 23 years.

Kane came to VM in 2005, first on a consulting basis, soon assuming the full-time role of executive editor, overseeing all the expanding operations for VM’s group including the print newsmagazine, the Vision Expo Dailies, VMail, e-newsletters and She’s developed strong working relationships with key organizations across the industry and throughout Jobson’s internal departments.

“My sister says, ‘Mary never met anyone she didn’t know,’ and I do enjoy interacting with people, pulling together teams on different projects.” Reminiscing about her early days in publishing she said, “We used to write headlines on typewriters, counting characters to make sure they fit at the typesetter! The change in digital media now is fascinating and I’m excited to be part of it. I’ve had strong mentors: Alan Fredericks, editorial director at TW, looked out for me and taught me so much. Nadine Godwin, my managing editor, taught me aspects of managing a staff. And I love the people I work with at VM and Jobson now.”

SHE SAYS…“Any job may be a stepping stone to another. There’s probably never been a better time to be in the workforce—all the doors are open.”

Sheri Mayes

Field Training Specialist
Nationwide Vision Center
Chandler, Ariz.

Chosen Because...“Nationwide Vision Center is proud to train its associates for all certifications. Sheri has taken on that challenge and has had great results. Today, Nationwide Vision Center has state licensed opticians in all offices, thanks to Sheri.”

It was Mayes’ mother who encouraged her to look into different types of businesses that would challenge her. When she discovered the world of optical, she immediately fell in love with the unique mix of medical and retail that makes this business so diverse and ever changing.

Some 25 years ago, Mayes started at Lee Optical where she learned her opticianry skills before receiving her Arizona State Dispensing Optician License. As a field training specialist, she now spends her time helping others to pass the ABO, NCLE or State Board licensure. She is the instructor of ABO/NCLE courses and individual field training.

She’s constantly implementing new training programs to ensure all employees have the skills needed to be successful. “The real challenge is when someone doesn’t pass,” said Mayes. “Then I get the opportunity to motivate them to take the test again. I tell them to never give up. I want to show them that persistence will eventually pay off.”

SHE SAYS…“Use your passion to build great relationships with your peers. Be open to new ideas, constantly improve yourself by learning from your mistakes and always be learning through all channels that are available to you such as continuing education courses, optical periodicals, Vision Expo and seminars.”