Innovators

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Maureen Beddis
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
The Vision Council
Fairfax, Va.

Chosen Because...“It is her vision that led to the creation of the Eye Health Summit, an event designed to bring together key representatives of the vision community in order to build consensus for an eye health message to the public.”

A journalism major at Temple University, Beddis did an internship in public relations and was drawn to the field, starting out as an account manager at a public relations agency and then “discovering” the vision and optical business when she became advertising and PR manager for Carl Zeiss Vision, where she recalls, she was struck by how little most people knew about the importance of eye examinations.

When her former Zeiss boss, Ed Greene, moved to The Vision Council as CEO, he asked Beddis to join him there. She started at the association in 2006 and was director of integrated marketing, focusing on the rebranding and vision initiatives of the group, communicating its benefits to members within the industry. Today, she oversees all marketing, media relations and advertising activities targeted to consumers and the organization’s membership.

She recalled that the performance of the then five-year-old Check Yearly, See Clearly campaign was hard to measure yet members wanted the organization to do something to educate consumers about regular vision care. “I discussed with Ed the idea of developing our relationships with other groups and organizations around the vision care field to try to bring everyone together. We partnered with a professional consensus-building firm who worked with us and the discussions have led to the creation of the new Foundation for Eye Health Awareness.”

SHE SAYS...“For work and family it’s the same—focus on your strengths, pick the things you know you can do well, rather than spreading yourself too thin.”


Jennifer Rainville Cruz
Director of Professional Development
International Vision Expo
Norwalk, Conn.

Chosen Because...“She works very closely with the opticians and optometrists on the Conference Advisory Board to create unique content and programs. Jen has built deep relationships and is highly respected throughout the optical industry and the profession.”

Some 15 years ago when Jennifer Rainville Cruz started at Reed Exhibitions as an entry level coordinator with International Vision Expo, her interests leaned toward adult education but her knowledge of the optical industry was in its infancy. “I had to learn about the optical professions; their training and licensing and credentialing processes. It was through my own educational process that I learned what eyecare professionals do and I was hooked,” Rainville Cruz said.

Today, as director of professional development she oversees and executes the continuing education programs at both International Vision Expo East and West. She is tasked with creating and managing the Conference Advisory Board consisting of 15 optical professionals representing virtually every facet of the professional side of the business. “Education is the best kept secret of the International Vision Expos but I am working on changing that perception,” she said.

Under her tutelage, Vision Expo has become much more than a trade show and new programs such as Visionomics, Spanish Language Track, From Print to Practice, and Lunch With the Experts are a testament to her efforts. Her greatest challenge remains “staying ahead of the CE curve and coming up with different ways to deliver and develop content for ECPs,” she said.

SHE SAYS...“I wonder at the sheer number of eyecare professionals who have kept up with their licensing and credentialing through our programs and feel that I have made perhaps a small contribution to the overall eye health of many Americans.”


Janice D. Gaub
Senior Director of Marketing, Internet & Social Media
CooperVision
Fairport, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“She is bringing her great experience to bear in teaching eyecare professionals how to utilize the web and social media as practice building tools.”

A Pacific Northwest native, Gaub grew up outside Seattle, getting her undergraduate degree from the University of Puget Sound in international affairs and foreign language. She then went on for her MBA from Seattle University while she was working and learning many lessons from her family’s retail/wholesale grocery business, which taught her a great deal about the power of data and providing value to the customer.

She began a range of jobs in the consumer packaged goods realm, which took her around the country, first as brand and marketing manager for such companies as Olympic Home Care, Paragon Trade Brands and Nile Spice Foods. She was VP of marketing for Gargoyles Performance Eyewear and Hobie Polarized Sunglasses from ‘95 to ‘97 and joined Eddie Bauer, Inc as divisional VP brand marketing.

As the internet became a new marketing force, Gaub joined Drugstore.com as its VP marketing and site management and then moved to Kodak, where she was chief marketing officer and VP for the company’s professional division and ultimately, director of corporate branding. She moved on to become VP of consumer marketing for Shutterfly.com, eventually moving to Rochester, N.Y.

In 2009, she joined CooperVision where there is a growing recognition of the internet and social media’s role in building connections with patients and practitioners. “We are looking to make the practices more effective and activate social media efforts, like our new teen campaign and help them directly build up their sites and presence online.” Gaub’s team also includes six social media consultants, now on board to help doctors understand the potential.

SHE SAYS...“It’s about continuously learning, believing in yourself and staying balanced. Be confident in what you do and do it with grace and poise.”


Bernadette Hiskey
Director, Product Marketing
Carl Zeiss Vision
San Diego, Calif.

Chosen Because...“Her product ideas and programs are influencing the industry and changing business trends toward the future.”

Hiskey is responsible for customized lens product marketing at Carl Zeiss Vision. She is the driving force behind many of the new lens designs the company has introduced in North America and is the chief architect of its “Good Better Best 100% Customized Lens Portfolio.” This lens portfolio has significantly grown Carl Zeiss Vision’s customized lens business.

Trained as a physicist, Hiskey joined the R&D team at SOLA Optical of Australia in 1993. She moved into technical marketing before taking a series of management positions with SOLA Optical Europe.

“When I first made move into the commercial area, Mark Mattison-Shupnick was tremendously supportive,” she noted.

Since relocating to the the U.S. in 2001, she has managed SOLA’s Transitions brand, led the global launch of SOLAOne progressives, set up Carl Zeiss Vision’s AR Coating Teflon coating business and initiated Zeiss’ first consumer advertising campaign. “What’s exciting is that I take products from R&D all the way through to consumer advertising,” she said.

SHE SAYS...“I see more openness to women in senior management roles in our industry, including technical roles. This is an advantage, because women are connecting with the voice of the consumer and using their insights to influence buying decisions made by women.”


Ann M. Hoscheit, OD, FAAO, FAARM
Owner and Optometric Physician
Summit Eye Associates
Gastonia, N.C.


Chosen Because...”Hoscheit was named Gaston County 2005 Business Woman of the Year, been inducted into the Gaston County Women’s Hall of Fame and received numerous honors for her community service and volunteerism.”

A funny thing happened to Ann Hoscheit, OD on her way to medical school to become a family physician—she dated the son of an optometrist, and the rest as they say, is history.

In 1990, Hoscheit received her doctor of optometry degree from the University of Houston College of Optometry and went on to her residency in Hospital-Based Optometry/Ocular Disease at Albuquerque V.A. Medical Center in New Mexico.

In 1994, she was the founding partner of Gaston Eye Associates in North Carolina, a fast-paced ophthalmology/optometry practice with multiple locations. Feeling as if something was missing, Hoscheit moved on, opened Summit Eye Associates in 2003 and has been thankful ever since to “have the opportunity to rethink” her career.

The single location practice offers comprehensive primary eyecare with a philosophy of “personalized approach to patient care” and an emphasis on the overall wellness of its patients through its various “centers of excellence” specializing in contact lenses, dry eye and early detection of eye disease. Hoscheit recently became the first optometrist to be enrolled in the Fellowship in Anti-Anging and Regenerative Medicine. Her business mantra: “Keep it personal and don’t compromise the quality of eyecare, eyewear or life care you and your team provide.”

SHE SAYS...”I love making a difference in the quality of the lives I touch, either as patients, employees or in the community. Some days we help people see better, some days we keep people from going blind and more days than you might imagine, we save lives. What’s not to love about that?”


Julia Medina
Director of Product Strategy
Vision Web
Austin, Texas 

Chosen Because...“Julia is the ‘go-to’ person at VisionWeb. She brings a collaborative and creative spirit, technical expertise and a strong work ethic to her strategically critical role. Her commitment and credibility make her a valued and influential resource within the organization and with customers. She has been at the forefront of VisionWeb’s success and continued growth.”

On July 15, Julia Medina marked her nine-year anniversary with VisionWeb, something she’s quite happy about. As a software developer, Medina found optical to be the perfect environment for her technical skills. In her role as director of product strategy, Medina develops concepts, coordinates and implements the strategic direction of VisionWeb’s suite of products, services and processes. “My job is always changing so it’s never boring,” she said. As the industry evolves, the technology needs of VisionWeb’s partners and users also evolve. This keeps Medina on her toes, always looking for new collaborations and different ways of doing things. According to Medina, “There’s inspiration at every turn.”

SHE SAYS...“Get out there and meet people in this industry! There are so many opportunities to collaborate, be creative, and work together, especially in technology, where a random conversation about a business need can easily turn into the project of your career.”


Debby Mullins
Office Administrator
R.D. Cherry, Inc.
Melvindale, Mich.

Chosen Because...“Just spend one day with Debby and if you are not inspired to make a better world for yourself she will say ‘now let me tell you’ and she will. Debbie is an amazing woman and someday will be a great successor for Cherry Optical, Michigan.”

Debby Mullins started working in her father’s optical lab washing blue paint off of glass lenses when she was 12 years old. After high school she enrolled in college and discovered that she missed the optical business and returned to Cherry Optical where her father took her under his wing.

“My father Richard has been my greatest mentor and supporter,” said Mullins. “His integrity and character has contributed significantly to me personally and professionally.” Today, Mullins oversees all aspects of marketing from pricing to advertising, from customer service to event coordinator. The Your Eyes University, a one-day event for ECPs, was attended by 600 ECPs with over 25 hours of ABO, NCLE and COPE classes, all scheduled and organized by Mullins.

SHE SAYS...“My advice to other women is to…find a mentor, develop problem solving abilities, positive attitude, and self leadership qualities of integrity, vision, and self-discipline. Most importantly, build relationships. When you do so, you help people reach their potential. Finally, enjoy the work you do.”


Nancy Ness
Director, Education & Training, Communication and Services
Jobson Optical Group
New York, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“She has been integral to the promotion of business acumen and optical education for 20 years.”

With an avid interest in magazines, Ness’ first job as assistant to the business manager for a major b-to-b home furnishings publisher, HFD at Fairchild Publications, put her on a fast track for the sales, meeting and trade show planning, skills she then took to the company’s travel group. Arriving at Jobson in 1991 as marketing and supplements manager, Ness began her involvement in promotion and image-building for all of the group’s optical publications and events, moving on to become director in 1998, responsible for strategic and tactical marketing for a growing group of magazines, websites and events.

Her planning skills have honed Jobson’s reputation among readers and clients over the years in such diverse projects as awards programs, special seminars, gala industry events, corporate meetings and trade shows. Ness’ attention to detail spans small sophisticated dinner meetings to parties both formal and fun, and forums to groups as large as 1,000.

Today, her role is focused on growing Jobson’s opticianry continuing education via the 20/20 Opticianry Study Center which partners with companies to provide quality CE via print, web and live events across the U.S. She noted, “We have a range of CE capabilities and services which can help our users run their businesses better, help them train their staff and enhance the vision care of their patients.”

SHE SAYS...“Be confident, and find a way to get the job done with the resources you have. No one does anything alone—it’s always about a team effort.”


Regina Rossi
Director of R esearch & Development
Mazzuchelli 1849
Varese, Italy

Chosen Because...“She knows trends, she has a great experience, she understands what the creators have in mind and how to realize it.”

Regina Rossi, 63, joined Mazzuchelli 1849, the leading eyewear zyl producer, some 43 years ago, when a summer training spot assisting the general director of the Varese company turned into a new full-time new position. In the ’70s—the early days of Armani— creativity in furniture and fashion design was becoming important in an optical frame world which was used to black and tortoise plastic, Rossi said. “Mr. Mazzuchelli said to me, ‘Everyone’s talking about fashion, maybe we need a lady’s eye here, what about you?”

The company established a research and development center for “color” technology which has developed, through Rossi’s passion and interests, into a leader for custom colorations and interpretations. With interests as diverse as mathamatics, art and painting, Rossi went to fashion exhibitions, and started to meet with customers and new designers, like Alain Mikli, she recalls, who had new ideas.

“I had the laboratories at my disposal and they thought I was a crazy lady but I started to work with them and the customers step by step. Last year, 85 percent of our production was custom colors, it is huge work. We are working today on many interpretations for many market sectors. We are the link, between the designers and the factories; we are requested to solve the problems they cannot understand.”

SHE SAYS...”Study. And when you study, try to understand everything that is around the problem; not only the problem itself. There is not a simple answer but many questions which can serve the customer. Develop trust.”


Beth Schlau
Vice President, Editorial
First Vision Medical Group
Maywood, N.J.

Chosen Because...“Most busy professionals are time starved today and Beth demystifies many options in a way that the consumer is better served and the trade is consistently brought up to date.”

Beth Schlau has been writing about the optical industry for almost 10 years starting out as Managing Editor and then moving up to Executive Editor of Vision Care Product News. Today, she is Vice President Editorial of First Vision Media Group, the company that publishes VCPN, Sunglasses magazine, Optical Lab Products, and the Understanding & Working With series, which she developed. Schlau described the series as the “first true ‘peer-to-peer’ editorial product to articulate, present and promote optical products in a way the dispenser can understand and use.”

As a VP, Schlau is responsible for all editorial in both print and online publications, including Vision Care Venture and the company’s e- newsletters. In addition to hiring and supervising the editorial and art staffs, she plans and develops the focus of the magazines’ content and other editorial projects. Her greatest challenge in today’s ever-changing world of media: “Looking for new and better ways to disseminate information.”

SHE SAYS...“We are giving people information about one of the most important things in life—eyesight—and providing them with knowledge about how to make their patients not only see well but look well in the process.”


Lisette Swenson
Brand Manager, Marketing
Essilor of America
Dallas, Texas

Chosen Because...“Her marketing expertise has been essential in developing and implementing TruClear, a leading private label progressive lens brand manufactured by Essilor of America for the Vision Source group.”

“Drawing upon her extensive background in marketing medical devices for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Swenson has made her mark in the optical industry in a relatively short time. Since joining Essilor of America four years ago, she has played a key role in managing Essilor’s progressive lens brands such as Accolade and Accolade Freedom.

Collaborating with Jeff Anderson, Essilor’s strategic accounts director, Swenson has also played a leading role in launching and managing the TruClear private label line of progressive lenses, which has been a success for Vision Source, a major optometric practice management and buying group. Under her direction, the TruClear line has expanded to include TruClear, TruClear HD and TruClear HD Plus, a personalized and customized version launched last month.

Having worked in Europe for a Swedish medical device company prior to joining Essilor, Swenson brings a unique perspective to her job. She said Essilor compares favorably to other European companies because “women are reflected both internationally and domestically in every facet of its business. Women contribute to a multitude of innovative ideas.”

SHE SAYS...“As a woman in business, you have to have relentless drive and focus and be able to deliver best in class products and programs, while balancing the appropriate attitude and insight.”


Dawn West
Business Manager, Events
Transitions Optical
Pinellas Park, Fla.

Chosen Because...“Dawn leads a staff that coordinates some of the industry’s most spectacular events. She is the unsung hero who puts on Transitions Academy every year.”

Under West’s management, Transitions Academy has grown over the past decade into a signature event for Transitions Optical. Offering a mix of educational and marketing seminars, the annual conference at the Disney Yacht Club in Orlando, Fla attracts more than 1,000 enthusiastic participants from three continents.

West also manages trade shows, point-of-sale creative and on-line marketing for the photochromic lens maker. “I like a constantly changing set of creative challenges,” she said.

West joined Transitions’ finance department in 1991 after having been an assistant bank manager. Working in purchasing, marketing, trade public relations and field sales has given her a solid grasp of nearly all aspects of Transitions’ business.

This diverse skill set allows her to effectively manage the teams of people she uses from various departments when producing Transitions Academy. It also gives her the ability to see things from the customer’s perspective, something she tries to instill in others. “The biggest thing for me is understanding what the customer is all about,” she said.

Although West credits Connie Achman of X-Cel Optical and Connie Falvo of Transitions Optical as positive influences, she counsels young women in optical to be pro-active.

SHE SAYS...“You can’t wait for somebody to come along to develop your career. Nobody develops you but you.”