Executive Suite

By


Stephanie Johnson-Brown, OD, MEd


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Plano Child Development Center
Co-Owner, Plano Optometrics Ltd.
Chicago, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her love for children’s vision is what drives her. Stephanie Johnson-Brown, OD works tirelessly to make sure that children can achieve and that vision will not be an obstacle.”

 
Compassionate service to the community and a driving dedication to children’s vision care have defined Dr. Johnson-Brown’s professional goals for most of her 36 years as a behavioral optometrist in Chicago. As executive director of the not-for-profit Plano Child Development Center, she strives to provide inner city children with the behavioral vision therapy they need to succeed in life, whether or not they can pay. She recently presented at the International Conference on Behavioral Optometry in Birmingham, England; her topic, “Methods to Address the Visual Needs of a Large Urban Low Income Population,” was based on her own life’s work.

Dr. Johnson-Brown is the current president of the National Optometric Association (NOA), whose mission is to advance the visual health of minority populations. She received the NOA’s Founder’s Award and was named NOA’s 2011 Optometrist of the Year. Awards aside, Dr. Johnson-Brown is most proud of being able to provide “world class vision therapy treatments to patients that are unable to afford it. To see the lives of many of the patients changed as a result of the vision therapy has been very rewarding.”

Following in the footsteps of her optometrist father and mentor, the late Dr. Robert Johnson, optometry was a natural career path for Dr. Johnson-Brown who worked in her dad’s office in high school. She credits her successful career to her dad’s example and “the passion I have for what I do and what I believe,” along with her ability to see the big picture and to be a visionary.

SHE SAYS… “Service is not what you receive, it’s what you give.”


Kate Doerksen

FOUNDER AND CEO
DITTO.com
San Francisco, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Kate and her team are leading the way for how consumers will most probably be buying eyeglasses in the future.”

 
Kate Doersksen says she’s always had the entrepreneurial spirit. She sold her sister’s clothes at school. She started a basketball camp in her family’s Evansville, Ind. driveway. Basketball led her to Ball State, where she was recruited to play and where she launched an online recruiting platform for men’s and women’s college basketball. The WNBA drafted her for the Connecticut Suns, where she stayed for a “very short career.”

But ultimately, Doerksen was drawn to New York City and the business world. She started as a Citigroup M&A financial analyst following retail companies, later moving to a Chicago private equity firm. But she was driven to be operational. At Stanford University’s business school, and its high-powered Silicon Valley environment, she connected with a high-tech engineer and search expert. The team developed a revolutionary new approach to gathering and analyzing data to formulate a 3D Try-On fitting tool, which became the basis for creating a “ditto,” the replica of an anatomical image of an individual’s face for DITTO.com.

The site, which Doersksen founded at age 28, now works with some 40 eyewear brands and has also just launched a new “Personal Shop” quiz to help consumers sort through style choices and DITTO will start testing in-store kiosks in 2015. Last month, the e-commerce site received $5 million in additional funding from August Capital and strategic partner, National Vision, Inc.

SHE SAYS… “Women in the workplace can be self-conscious. But be 100 percent confident. Know your strengths and weaknesses and stop caring so much about what everyone else thinks. Slow down, speak articulately and with conviction. Raise your hand to run that project and lead that team.”


Celia de Lourdes Feliciano, OD

OWNER
Vision 4 You
Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Feliciano has given optometry the position it deserves, fiercely backing the therapeutics bill. She has given all of us the pride and the willpower to keep on learning and making ourselves better doctors.”

 
As president of the Puerto Rico Optometric Association, Dr. Feliciano strives to increase recognition for the excellent vision care provided by the organization’s 500 member optometrists. She is leading efforts to change Puerto Rico’s Optometry law to allow optometrists to prescribe therapeutic drugs to treat ocular diseases as they do in the states.

As ocular primary care doctors, she believes optometrists can work together with ophthalmologists to provide the full range of services that will benefit patients. Changing the law, she said, “will provide the professional justice that we deserve because we have the knowledge and the desire to serve with a full scope of practice.”

Dr. Feliciano chaired the 2013 “Health for All Puerto Rico” forum that addressed new solutions for islandwide health care reform, promoting the importance of children’s eye exams. During her tenure, the Optometric Association began a weekly radio show about vision topics and sponsored a contest for World Sight Day asking children to draw pictures showing how important vision is to their lives.

After 24 years in the profession, Dr. Feliciano believes optometry is “a beautiful career because an optometrist can help you see children smile and the colors of a rainbow, and enjoy the wonders of life.” She said, “Every day you also see more women leading optometric associations, doing research, teaching at optometry schools, etc. Optometry gives us the opportunity to be part of the world of science.”

SHE SAYS… “All the efforts to change Puerto Rico’s Optometric law, the time taken for continuing education and learning new technology, all of this is done thinking about how this benefits my patients.”


Melody Healy

SVP, CHIEF STRATEGY & INTEGRATION OFFICER
VSP Vision Care
Rancho Cordova, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Melody is a leader both inside and outside of VSP. She has moved initiatives forward that help doctors, consumers and other companies in the industry.”

 
Melody Healy brought a diverse and successful background to Vision Service Plan (VSP) when she first joined the managed vision care company 18 years ago. Healy attended CSU-Sacramento, studying accounting and marketing and knew she wanted to use her finance knowledge to shape businesses.

Her first job was in the workman’s comp space. She went on to work for the owner of a private health care trust and eventually became a partner in the business. Healy then moved to Anthem Health and through contacts there, heard about an opportunity at VSP.

Healy was able to work with VSP’s large strategic customers and as the market got more complex, she realized there was a need for customized programs which in turn led to the creation of a product development/management process. Healy was then promoted to VP of product strategy for VSP and in January she moved to her current role reporting to the division’s president, Jim McGrann.

Healy describes her goals as “making sure VSP Vision Care and our resources are working on the highest priority projects. Our business units for customer care, eyecare delivery, product and underwriting report to me and we make sure they’re supporting all the market-facing businesses.”

Early on, Healy recalls, “I was the only woman in the room. But now we’re seeing more women break through in executive roles.” She’s had great mentors, citing Kate Renwick-Espinosa, VSP’s chief marketing officer and McGrann as inspirations.

SHE SAYS… “You have to be a lifetime learner; you have to want to increase your knowledge and bring something to the table. Define what’s important to you and don’t let anything stop you from pursuing that.”


April Jasper, OD, FAAO

OWNER
Vision Source/Advanced Eyecare Specialists
West Palm Beach, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Co-Professional Editor of Women in Optometry, Vision Source administrator, and frequent speaker and consultant to the profession on practice management and clinical issues.”

 
In addition to owning and running a thriving practice in West Palm Beach, Fla., April Jasper, OD, FAAO, spends a great deal of time at the lecture podium, sharing her vast knowledge of both practice management and clinical issues with colleagues around the country. She serves on the advisory board of Vision Source, for which she has been an administrator for the past seven years, organizing activities in her region.

Over the past year, she has presented a series of “Practices of Distinction” programs for Vision Source members in various metro areas, based on her concept that there are six key areas in which a practice must demonstrate excellence in order to rise above the competition. She also is involved in organized optometry, having been vice president of the Florida Optometric Association and having served nationally on the AOA Third Party Committee.

Most recently, Jasper was named Benedict Professor, College of Optometry at the University of Houston. Jasper advises other women in the profession: “Be open to hearing more about opportunities in life and not too quick to say no, especially if you are afraid. Women’s influence in optometry will depend entirely on their willingness to “lean in,” as described in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.”

SHE SAYS… “The optical business is one of the best in the world because we are given the opportunity to make people see. What a gift to be able to change peoples’ lives every day with everything we do.”


Alexis McLaughlin

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER
Target Optical, a Division of Luxottica
Mason, Ohio

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “A role model for hundreds of women, Alexis has day-to-day influence in every brand location via her commitment to engage the field teams with store visits.”

 
Following years of marketing experience with other household brands, Alexis McLaughlin joined Pearle Vision as director of marketing in 2009 and became Target Optical’s senior director, product and planning in 2012. In her current role, she has set and led the strategic vision and direction for Target Optical’s 346 stores and approximately 1,350 associates across the U.S. “To be an effective leader and mom, you have to give up some control and ask for help from others,” she said.

She further advises women: “Be bold, curious, fearless and confident. The optical industry is changing and women have an opportunity to influence not only the quality of care but also the perception of the industry. Make every decision with the patient/customer in mind. Find the right balance.”

She sees more women in leadership roles in the industry. “Women are frequently the health care decision makers in their household and seek affordable, convenient options, which means that accessibility to convenient care is going to be increasingly important for eyecare providers,” she said. “The majority of optometry school students today are women. They will look for practice models that provide flexibility and security.”

SHE SAYS… “Speak the truth, even when it would be easier not to. Achieve success by motivating people to move the business forward.”



Karoline L. Munson, OD

PRESIDENT-ELECT
Kentucky Optometric Association
Frankfort, Kentucky

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Munson is committed to promoting and advancing access to eyecare in Kentucky. She is a great leader for optometry who wants her colleagues to become more involved in the profession.”

 
Karoline L. Munson, OD, has worked in the industry for 22 years, starting at the office of her hometown OD as a teenager. Munson then worked for the IU School of Optometry in the billing department during optometry school, and after graduation, started at the Frankfort Vision Center in 2001, which she purchased in 2003. A member of the AOA and Kentucky Optometric Association, Munson earned her ABO Diplomate status in 2014, was awarded the KOA Presidential Award in 2014, the KOA Young Optometrist of the Year in 2006, and has been awarded the Kentucky Colonel twice. She is now the president-elect of the Kentucky Optometric Association.

“My biggest strength is my ability to communicate with a diverse patient population. Everyone needs to understand their eyes, and even the most technical conditions can be made easier to understand.”

Munson credits her success to her ability to multitask. “All things are ultimately my responsibility to manage. I excel at what I do because I have the ‘want to’ factor. I want things to be successful and have a positive outcome, so I work my hardest to see that the desired outcome comes to fruition.”

SHE SAYS… “Women can apply their innate mothering skills in a way that will benefit patients, whether it be compassionately listening to a problem, juggling many treatment scenarios or simply trying to figure out a tough multifocal fit.”


Julie A. Schornack, OD, MEd

VICE PRESIDENT OF CLINICAL AFFAIRS
Marshall B. Ketchum University
Southern California College of Optometry
Fullerton, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Schornack is responsible for clinic operations at the University Eye Center at Southern California College of Optometry at MBKU and she holds leadership roles in state and local optometric organizations.”

 
Dr Schornack’s distinguished career has been devoted to the education and training of optometric students, the doctors and future leaders of the profession. A graduate of Illinois College of Optometry, she joined the faculty at Southern California College of Optometry in 1986. She became director of clinical education in 1993, associate dean for clinical education in 2003, and in 2010, was named vice president of clinical affairs with oversight for campus and off site clinical operations.

Responsible for the strategic direction of SCCO’s training clinics, Dr. Schornack’s goal is to provide students with a rich and diverse clinical experience. She tells her students, “What differentiates the good from the great is carefully listening to the needs of the patient and always operating in their best interest.”

As an educator and leader within state and local optometric groups, one of her greatest challenges is to motivate people to embrace and deal with change productively. “Health care has constantly shifting sands,” said Dr. Schornack. “Inspiring people to embrace these changes and move forward requires clear communication with some gentle shoving and motivation toward the desired outcome.”

“Come to the table with self confidence and do not be afraid to work for the principles that you believe are important. If you identify a problem, be sure to also come with a solution.”

SHE SAYS… “I am grateful to the amazing mentors that I have had over the years. They all pushed me to do things that were beyond what I thought I could do myself.”