Rising Stars



Laura Bush

Operations Manager
Encore Optics
South Windsor, Conn.

Chosen Because...“Laura manages by example and is involved in all facets of operations from customer service to inventory to writing and implementing operational procedures.”

Bush joined the optical industry thanks to a newspaper ad for an office position at QSA Optical 21 years ago. She advanced to inventory manager and from there to a position as office manager at Hoya. She left Hoya in 2003 to join Paul Zito at his newly founded Encore Optics.

As Encore’s operations manager, she oversees all aspects of production, hiring and training of employees, managing the lab’s processing system, regular management meetings, new production integration and production flow. “I like the challenge, whether it is solving a problem, streamlining production, or teaching our employees. I credit my success to Paul Zito for seeing my potential and my partner Deb for all her support.”

Bush’s advice is for women to keep their head up, be proud of who they are and do their best in everything. “What’s unique about the optical industry is that there isn’t a position that a women couldn’t hold.”

Bush, herself, loves her job. “Being able to resolve a problem, whether it is an upset account, a difficult Rx/frame combination or a machine that is down, gives me a sense of satisfaction. I try to plan ahead and then confront a challenge head on. I like the change and if you can’t handle change you will be left behind.”

SHE SAYS…“My personal philosophy is pretty straightforward— ‘Teach, not Tell.’ If you take the time to teach your employees instead of just rushing through your answers, your employees will continue to grow and develop their own skills and you will also earn their respect.”

Stephanie Campbell

Managing Director
Foundation for Eye Health Awareness
Alexandria, Va.

Chosen Because...“She has been instrumental in setting up the Foundation as a successful not-for-profit entity with a strong public health message concerning the importance of yearly, comprehensive eye exams for better eye health.”

Armed with a masters degree in public health, Campbell entered the workforce managing a county government wellness program to over 4,000 employees. “That’s where I provided education on a variety of health issues and realized I would like to focus on one cause.” She got her wish working as a marketing manager with the Vision Council. Following the 2009 Eye Health Summit, the Board voted to put the Check Yearly program on hold to see if they could start something bigger and better. The Foundation for Eye Health Awareness was formed in October 2009, and Campbell became the organization’s managing director in July 2010.

Today, she leads programs and initiatives developed by the board of directors and serves as the primary staff liaison to the development, event planning, finance, marketing and nominating committees. “One of my major accomplishments was my role in drafting part of the agreement that allowed the Foundation to join forces with the Think About Your Eyes campaign.” Since its launch in 2010, the TAYE campaign has seen a 6 percent increase in comprehensive eye exams and future goals include raising $25 million over the next two years. “The biggest challenge to promoting eye exams is that vision is an ‘underdog’ in the huge public health field. There are campaigns promoting early detection of breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes that have budgets of over $60 million per year.”

SHE SAYS…“In public health, you’re always trying to work yourself out of a job. Once all Americans are getting regular eye exams, the Foundation will no longer need to exist.”

Jennifer Derryberry

Vice President Corporate Accounts
Zyloware Eyewear
Port Chester, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“Jennifer is incredibly well regarded and liked among her colleagues and customers alike. Her intelligence, energy, determination, honesty, eye for detail, and efficiency has allowed her to continually increase corporate business even in the toughest economy.”

Derryberry’s success is a tribute to the value of finding a mentor early in her more than 18-year optical career. “I’ve worked with a lot of great people throughout my career,” said Derryberry. “When I was just starting out at Nouveau, I met Kara Meyer; she became my mentor and a trusted friend. She had a way of encouraging everyone that worked with her to step outside of their boundaries to accomplish more. She was a wonderful motivator.”

“I think that is the perfect example of how women support each other. Now I am carrying on the tradition, by helping to build up other strong women in optical, in turn, making us all better.”

When she isn’t furthering the cause of women in the industry, Derryberry oversees the corporate sales division of Zyloware, working with national retail chains, as well as with marketing teams to create customized launch, merchandising and training programs for the company’s frame collections.

“I love the variety my job brings! I get to work with so many different personalities and no two days are ever the same,” she concluded.

SHE SAYS…“It’s important to find a mentor within the optical industry and learn from them. Network whenever possible. When you approach life with a positive attitude and are passionate, you are able to accomplish anything you set your mind to because failure is no longer an option.”

Malini Krishna

VP, Business Development
New York, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“Malini is a new talent on the not-for-profit side of the business. She’s created a lot of innovative partnerships.”

Fully aware of the impact she has in the optical field, Malini Krishna said, “Everyday I get to generate excitement and resources to fulfill this industry’s core purpose—to get people to see. Through VisionSpring’s work in the field, I help empower people who have historically been marginalized.” In her current role, the former sales manager is in charge of fundraising, marketing and global brand management, as well as communications for the non-profit.

“I am most proud of the fact that our team has significantly elevated the need for affordable eyecare
in the developing world and brought new players to the table to help solve this problem,” she said.

Krishna credits her success first to her great-grandmother, a widow in southern India who figured out how to own land and send her adopted nephew to college. She also thanked a former manager as well as VisionSpring’s chairman Reade Fahs.

“I am also really blessed with an incredible group of friends. I tend to be a workaholic and go at 90 miles an hour. They help me recognize my own value and ensure that I have balance in my life,” Krishna added.

SHE SAYS…“Live life by design, not by accident. A lot of people say that success is based on luck, but I have learned that true success comes from hard work and determination.”

Carla Mack, OD, FAAO

Director, Global Medical Affairs
Bausch + Lomb
Rochester, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“Carla is a born leader, passionate, determined and hard-working. Her dedication to elevating the profession is clear from the moment you meet her. Her excitement and energy is inspiring and her work has led to best-in-class product launches, bringing attention to previously low involvement categories.”

Carla Mack has a clear vision of success: “To be successful you need to keep the patient and the patient’s needs as the number one priority,” she said, adding, “This holds true for every role that I’ve had.”

Mack credits her early interest in the field to a family friend who was an OD and a class report on optometry when she was 12. Since then, she has been pushing the limits, challenging the norm and “hoping to leave any situation better than when I started.”

In her current role at Bausch + Lomb since 2008, Mack plans and oversees the company’s global medical communications and educational programs. “To be a good teacher, a great deal of learning needs to take place. Many times, you learn from those that you are ultimately teaching. I was thrilled to receive this award because it came from the students I worked with each day.”

SHE SAYS…“Push yourself because you are capable of more. Educate yourself so that you are an expert in what you do.”

Monica Marston

National Sales Manager, SRx
3M Company
Mobile, Ala.

Chosen Because...“She demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities. Her ability to listen to and understand the voice of the customer enables 3M to develop the right solutions for their needs.”

Identified as “rising star” by 3M, Marston was promoted in December 2010 to the position of U.S. national sales manager for 3M Occupational Prescription Eyewear. She is responsible for the sales team, sales growth, profits and planning.

Marston started out in the 1980s as contract optician, working for a large ophthalmology practice. She rose to become manager of the optical department, supervising 10 opticians plus support staff and a finishing lab. A call from an optometrist aunt who needed dispensing help resulted in Marston starting her own business, which in turn brought her in contact with AO Safety (now 3M Occupational Prescription Eyewear). There she acquired outside sales experience and honed her already formidable people skills. “I love being in front of a customer and coming up with new ways to help them enhance their program,” she said.

Marston said her biggest challenge is the shrinking U.S. industrial market. “Everywhere you turn a plant is closing, and the market is very competitive. You have to think outside the box, and keep programs fresh and new.”

SHE SAYS…“Ten years ago, the safety Rx industry was dominated by men because it was a more industrial-type environment. But women are being recognized and put into sales and executive roles now, and we’re making a difference.”

Heather Padgett

National Marketing Manager
Hoya Vision Care
Lewisville, Texas

Chosen Because...“She is outstanding at building rapport, building networks and always striving for win-win. Heather is the kind of person who is always willing to ‘roll up her sleeves’ and get the job done, pulling in whatever resources she needs.”

Padgett has accomplished a lot in the six-and-a-half years since joining Hoya Vision Care. Armed with a marketing degree, she began in the sales support department and then moved into the marketing department. Currently, she is responsible for all Hoya marketing activities in the central region of the U.S. In addition, Padgett supports Hoya’s national marketing efforts in single vision and computer lenses.

She is also involved with national buying groups, assists with Hoya’s national sales meeting and represents Hoya at trade shows. Padgett’s energy and competence have earned her Hoya’s Bridge Builder Award in 2009 and 2010 and a nomination for best individual performance in 2010. Padgett sees optical as a “dynamic and unique” industry. She said she is motivated to push forward in her job because “I am making a difference in someone’s life, so it is important to give 100 percent, no matter how I am feeling that day.” Padgett credits Hoya president Barney Dougher and marketing director Jennifer Ma as mentors who have been particularly supportive.

SHE SAYS…“What inspires and drives me every day is knowing my purpose and having goals that I can commit to and reach in every aspect of my life, whether it is career or personal.”

LaSheta P. David, OD

Invision Family Eyecare
Concord, N.C.

Chosen Because...“Dr. David is the president of the National Optometric Association (NOA), and leads the national organization for minority optometrists. This organization promotes optometry as a profession nationwide.”

It was David’s childhood optometrist that first sparked her interest in optometry, asking about her plans for the future and suggesting she consider a career in optometry. The idea took hold her sophomore year at North Carolina State University.

After graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, David’s first job was with an ophthalmological group with four MDs. She split her time between the group practice and working in a single doctor OD practice, fueling her goal to one day have a practice of her own. That dream came true three years ago.

Today, David is the owner of her own practice, Invision Family Eyecare as well as the president of the National Optometric Association (NOA). She was awarded the NOA Optometrist of the Year twice and as a student won the NOA Student of the Year. “I love my job because it gives me an opportunity to help people of all ages, socioeconomic classes and racial backgrounds,” said David.

SHE SAYS…“I am inspired to succeed by the women who have chosen this same path before me. My best advice is to surround yourself with those with experience and wisdom. These will be the people that will help you make some very tough decisions.”

Jennifer M. Smith, OD, FCOVD

Vice President/Co-Owner
Draisin Vision Group
Charleston, S.C.

Chosen Because...“Not only has she hit the ground running in the practice, but she is also state chairman for the Special Olympics and InfantSEE, a member of the Junior League and a Big Sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.”

Smith graduated from optometry school in 2006. Since then, she has earned her Fellow in COVD, been president of the Coastal Carolina Optometric Society twice and been awarded the Horizon Award and Distinguished Service Award from the S.C. State Optometric Association. Additionally, she currently serves as a PR committee chairperson for the S.C. Optometric Physicians Association, is the S.C. state leader for the InfantSEE Program and is on the InfantSEE National Board for the AOA.

“I love that I get a chance to give back to my community,” Smith said. “My heart really sings when I get to use my talents and skills to give back to others. I also love to work with children. I am brought to tears when they finish their vision therapy and have straight A’s and a complete change in self-esteem.”

“I received my first pair of glasses in 5th grade after having trouble seeing the board at school,” she continued. “I graduated to contact lenses in 8th grade and was amazed that a little piece of plastic in my eye helped me see so clearly. That sparked a curiosity and interest in optometry for me.”

SHE SAYS… “The optical industry is a perfect fit for women. Women have an opportunity to dream big in this field and go out and grab it. There are no glass ceilings and the opportunities are endless.”

Jeanette Carbone Varanelli, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center
Department of Veterans Affairs
Detroit, Mich.

Chosen Because...“As chief of optometry at the VA Medical Center for over five years, Dr. Varanelli has been instrumental in maintaining a tele-retinal imaging program with other VA hospitals, and has been asked to participate in many state and national endeavors within the VA system.”

A 1997 graduate of the Illinois School of Optometry, Jeanette Carbone Varanelli, OD held various committee appointments within the Medical Center, regionally and on a national level before assuming her current position as chief of optometry. “We have a large scale clinical optometric training program including affiliation agreements with five schools of optometry, encompassing many health care disciplines within the Medical Center,” she said.

“Since I have become chief of optometry, we have created an outstanding accredited optometric residency in primary care and ocular disease, began a low vision blind rehabilitation program, and increased access to care to our patients by streamlining our daily processes and utilizing telehealth technology.” Varanelli admits the pace at the VA is brisk and the eyecare team alone sees upwards of 200 patients per day. But when the chance to work at the VA became available, she was honored to accept the responsibility. “I am proud to serve our nation’s veterans,” she said.

Varanelli is an active member of her state optometric association; especially with regard to continuing education committee assignments. She consistently promotes optometry in her legislative district by highlighting the important role optometrists play in providing eyecare to the community. This past November, she earned the distinguished level of Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, which she describes as “a goal I held for many years since graduation.”

SHE SAYS…“Be passionate about what you do and there will always be a drive inside of you to be your best while continuing to improve yourself through continued learning.”

Cheryl Vescio

Director of Regional Retail
Carl Zeiss Vision
Warrenville, Ill.

Chosen Because...“She is tenacious, influential, customer-focused and friendly. Cheryl has the ability to bring people together, to understand others points of view and make compromises that work.”

After nearly three decades in the retail optical field, Cheryl Vescio has acquired the insight and experience to manage some of Carl Zeiss Optical’s biggest accounts. As director of regional retail, which is part of Zeiss’s retail/managed care division, Vescio supervises a team of salespeople who develop customized business solutions for their accounts. “Being on the retail side, there’s no one-size-fits-all,” she said. “You’ve got to be creative and determine what each account needs. Then you figure out different ways to use the tools you have available, or else create new tools if necessary.”

Vescio began her career in retail management, working at ToysRUs and Kmart. She learned optical retailing from the inside, working first at Royal Optical and Standard Optical before landing at LensCrafters and then LensLab/Paris Miki. She moved to the vendor side when she joined Sola Optical, working with wholesale customers and then retail accounts, always while based in Chicago.

Vescio’s expertise has earned her a Reach for the Stars President’s award from Zeiss, and she was instrumental in Zeiss receiving Shopko’s Vendor of the Year Award in 2009.

SHE SAYS…“Just racking up a sale can be a very short-term thing that can come back to bite you later. Look for that long-term win for both you and your customer.”