For more than 20 years, Vision Monday has been shining a spotlight on women in the optical industry who check all the boxes. They are high achievers, difference makers and trendsetters who just plain stand out and every July we are honored to share their stories of success in our Most Influential Women in Optical Report. This year’s “class” of honorees does not disappoint.

Having finally emerged from the shadows of the pandemic, this year’s honorees are at long last looking forward to a brighter and more promising future. Their positivity and can-do attitudes are apparent as we chronicle their achievements in an ever-changing optical landscape.

It’s no wonder we selected the moniker “PowHERful!” to describe this year’s group of influential women. 2023 marks the 21st year of our Special Report. The editors at Vision Monday had more than 250 nominees from our readers to choose from and we selected 51 very well-deserving women.

This year’s group of MIWs (Most Influential Women) is made up of executives, sales and marketing professionals, designers, ECPs, lab experts, social media mavens, administrators, researchers and teachers. They oversee companies, head up marketing and design teams, and run universities and optical practices.

This eclectic mix is emblematic of the broad reach of women in our industry and indicative of how deeply they are embedded in its fabric.

For this year’s Annual Report, VM considered women who are making a difference in the following five categories: Executive Suite, Mentors, Rising Stars, Innovators and Above & Beyond.

We invite you to meet these “PowHERful!” optical achievers and join us in celebrating their wide-ranging skills and accomplishments. Click here to read the full Special Report, which includes the women’s profiles, a downloadable pdf of the feature and an alphabetical list of MIW honorees from 2003 to 2023.

Test your Most Influential Women knowledge—click HERE to take a short trivia test about the history of 21 years of MIW Special Reports.

Read More About It

Here is a small sampling of quotes from the 2023 MIW honorees which VM refers to as SHE SAYS…

Vanessa Bernarding
Chief People Officer

SHE SAYS… “Find peers, leaders, teammates and mentors who will listen, provide feedback and help you grow. Trust your ability to take on something new and if you fail, learn from it, pick yourself up and keep going.”

Simone Meskelis
SVP, ECP and Retail
Hoya Vision Care

SHE SAYS… “I think we have a prime opportunity to grow in the optical industry as we are seeing increased diversity in the field and increased female presence. My piece of advice is don’t try to do it alone, take in all the support and help you can get. This industry is filled with talented individuals that are eager to help.”

Wendy Salle
Chief Merchandising Officer
New Look Vision Group USA

“All women should surround themselves with people invested in their success, find a mentor, join a group such as OWA and see the support that is available to help you succeed.”

Katie Lauver, ABOC
Chief Revenue Officer
GPN Technologies

SHE SAYS… “Seeing women in this industry rise to the top of their companies inspires me beyond belief. We are in a time where women in optometry are taking over. They are crushing goals and having massive success within their companies, and it motivates me to continue to push toward my goals and always go for gold.”

Gwendolyn Plummer
Senior Associate Editor
Vision Monday

SHE SAYS… “Everyone is nicer than you think. I have found myself feeling intimidated and overwhelmed by how experienced, smart and just plain cool the people in our industry are—but I’ve found that everyone is kind, welcoming and happy to talk. This is a tight-knit but ever-expanding industry, so ask questions and get to know as many people as you can. You will be thankful that you were brave.”

Gilda Mehraban
VP of Corporate Accounts and Business Development
SHE SAYS… “I hope I can be an example of bringing feminine traits to the profession—trust, relationship building, listening, thoughtfulness and intuition can create many business opportunities.”

Amanda Shapiro
VP of Marketing
Europa Eyewear

SHE SAYS…“Everything you’ve done up to this point is something you can draw on for the career you want today.”

Susan Daly
Director, Optical Strategy and Development

SHE SAYS… “My advice may be controversial but forget that you are a woman. Being a woman is a single data point, and one that has become more fluid in recent years. It describes neither your fullest capacity nor your biggest opportunities.”

Maureen Cavanagh
VP Key Accounts

SHE SAYS… “Walk in the room with purpose, sit at the table with pride and always keep climbing the ladder to your personal and professional goals.”

Stephanie Woo, OD,
Owner and Founder
Contact Lens Institute of Nevada

SHE SAYS… “Life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t truly love. If there is something you would rather be doing, it is completely possible, you just need to develop it and take action.”

Join VM to Celebrate 2023 ‘Class’ of Influential Women in Optical
At Special Luncheon Event at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas

Dr. Simone Ahuja

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of our Most Influential Women in Optical Special Report so we did what everyone else does for an anniversary—we threw a party. Actually, it was a luncheon held at Vision Expo West and it was such a resounding success, we decided to make it an ongoing tradition.

This year, Vision Monday will be hosting a special luncheon event and program to pay tribute to this year's roster of 2023 Most Influential Women (MIW) in Optical on Sept. 29 during Vision Expo West in Las Vegas. These women, along with many prior year MIW honorees and other guests, will be celebrated at the special event in Las Vegas.

"This special and unique luncheon event and program in Las Vegas during Vision Expo West is an unparalleled opportunity to connect, collaborate and build meaningful relationships within a powerful network of industry leaders," stated Marge Axelrad, SVP and editorial director of Vision Monday.

The program will also feature a dynamic guest keynote speaker, Dr. Simone Ahuja, a best-selling author, Harvard Business Review contributor and business school advisor who will speak about innovation and "intrepreneurship" to the audience.

Dr. Ahuja told VMAIL Weekend, “This event honors women from across sectors at different stages of their careers who are shaping the optical industry… and that’s not easy. I’ll share how entrepreneurs just like you can crack the code on problem solving by really trusting themselves and charting their own path forward.”

Dr. Ahuja is an innovation advisor and consultant to organizations including 3M, UnitedHealth Group, Procter & Gamble, Target Corp, Stanley Black & Decker, and the World Economic Forum and a practitioner of improvisational comedy who loves to bring the energy and fun of improv to her live and virtual sessions. To learn more about Dr. Ahuja click here.

Click on the video below to watch a special message from Dr. Simone Ahuja about her appearance at VM's MIW luncheon event.

The event will be held at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas at Vision Expo West, with arrivals and check-in starting at noon. The program will start at 12:15 p.m., ending at 2:00 p.m. Tickets include program and lunch. Registration information and ticket details are posted here.

As of presstime, Visionary Sponsors of the VM 2023 Most Influential Women in Optical luncheon event and program included Alcon, EssilorLuxottica and Johnson & Johnson Vision. Partner Sponsors included The Vision Council, Vision Expo, VSP Vision and Walmart. Supporting Sponsors included Advancing EyeCare, Hoya Vision Care, Marcolin, Modo, the Optical Women's Association (OWA), Safilo, Vision Source and Zeiss.

For sponsorship information for the luncheon event, contact Dennis Murphy at