Executive Suite

By


Carmen Bauza

SENIOR VP AND GENERAL MERCHANDISE MANAGER
Health and Wellness and Consumables
Walmart U.S.
Bentonville, Arkansas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has been a big innovator at Walmart Optical. She is also a rising star and leading mentor—especially to women at Walmart.”

Carmen Bauza has been with Walmart for nearly 10 years. Prior to her current role, for which she was tapped in 2013, she was the vice president and divisional merchandise manager of beauty and personal care merchandising at the company.

Today, she oversees the 2,900 Walmart Vision Centers and over 2,000 Vision Center associates. “When I was approached to take on health, wellness, pharmacy and optical, I knew it was a big opportunity and a huge challenge. So I did an assessment with all of our partners, associates and customers to learn how to add value to Walmart. It’s very important to have diversity of thought, to bring together people with a range of backgrounds and experiences.”

Bauza is upbeat about a new Walmart Vision Center concept which is just being rolled out, reflecting a redesigned environment and new technology. “Vision is a fascinating and dynamic industry where fashion, technology and patient care come together. What makes Walmart so special is our mission—to make high quality vision care services and products affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Bauza was a GMM at Bath & Body Works and spent over 10 years with the Walt Disney Company Theme Parks and Resorts division, including VP and GMM for all aspects of merchandising. She holds a B.S. degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business Management from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa.

A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, she has been active in various Hispanic support groups including executive sponsor of the Hispanic/Latino Resource Group at Walmart. She is on the board of Walmex, NACDS and the Network of Executive Women.

SHE SAYS… “A lesson I live by: leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making it last in your absence.”


Susan Berryman


VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
SEE Eyewear
Southfield, Michigan

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “A branding visionary and marketing maven, Susan has built a brand personality that fits so seamlessly with the retail concept it has yielded a loyal consumer following that has grown exponentially year over year and made it possible for aggressive expansion into new markets. In short, Susan is the brand.”

Susan Berryman considers herself fortunate to have a network of talented and intelligent people who have supported and guided her throughout her 16-year career in optical, especially her longtime mentor Richard Golden, founder and CEO at SEE. In 2009, she was named one of Crain’s Detroit 40 under 40.

“A pioneer in the industry, Richard has not only been an invaluable resource for advice, he has been an inspiration for me.”

Berryman oversees all creative direction, branding and digital marketing for the SEE brand and became interested in optical after being intrigued by the opportunity to work with a company (D.O.C) that had “a rich history in both the industry and city.”

“We don’t work with huge budgets, so we have to be scrappy and nimble in an incredibly competitive industry. I am a hypercompetitive person by nature, which is why I love retail. Every day is a battle, and when you’re doing it without the luxury of high profile agencies and big budgets it is that much more satisfying when you celebrate wins.”

SHE SAYS… “I consider true customer service to be a lost art. You can have the best branding, the highest quality products, the most progressive designs and a great value proposition, but if you don’t exceed the expectations of your customers, you have nothing.”


Crystal Brimer, OD, FAAO


OWNER
Focus Eye Care
Wilmington, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She leads the way in dry eye treatment and quality of care. She’s the most remarkable doctor with her patients.”


Just two years after graduating the Southern College of Optometry in 2000, Crystal Brimer, OD, opened her own private boutique practice, Focus Eye Care, in 2002. At Focus, Brimer has invested significant time, research and resources into dry eye treatment, developing a dry eye center devoted to advanced diagnosis and treatment of the condition using cutting edge technology and equipment.

Having grown up a high myope, Brimer said she became inspired to enter the optometric field when she recognized there had been a lack of expertise in her eyecare. “I didn’t realize until I was older how different that entire experience could have been,” said Brimer, who now designs personal treatment plans, to ensure she may positively impact each patient. “I decided that’s the difference I wanted to make.”

In addition to owning and managing Focus Eye Care, a Vision Source practice, Brimer has become a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, is extremely involved in other optometric activities such as clinical investigations, and currently authors columns in both Optometry Times and Advanced Ocular Care. She also travels extensively to lecture and consult, having returned recently from a 21-city tour on continuing education for dry eye.

SHE SAYS… “Invest wholeheartedly into your patients, and take care of them the best you possibly can. The money will follow!”


Jill Chernoff

VP OF OPERATIONS
New Millennium Eyewear Group
Freeport, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She motivates the staff by being hands-on and demonstrating an incredible work ethic.”

After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in criminology and law, Jill Chernoff planned to go to law school. While taking a semester off, she accepted a customer service position at Viva International Group, where her brother Ed worked, and has remained in the industry ever since.

During her eight years at Viva, Chernoff worked her way up to become director of marketing. In 1996, she and some family members started New Millennium Eyewear.

Like many women, who balance professional and family responsibilites. Chernoff is a champion multitasker, both by temperament and training. This skill serves her well as New Millennium’s vice president of operations, because she is involved in almost every aspect of the company’s business, including customer service, accounts receivable, warehouse and inventory. She also coordinates and executes sales programs, promotions and contests for the sales team.

Despite the many changes that have reshaped the optical business over nearly three decades, Chernoff’s personal philosophy remains the same. “Treat your employees and your customers fairly, honestly and with respect. Hard work, dedication, loyalty and being proud of what you do every day truly is why I still love to go to work.

“The optical industry is exciting and always changing. Watching the trends and how shapes, materials and color have evolved over the last 28 years has been fascinating.”

SHE SAYS… “This is still very much a relationship-driven industry, especially with the ECPs, and I think the women who are successful really understand that.”


Lauri Crawford

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING
Essilor of America
Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She’s created and executed one of the largest consumer marketing campaigns in the industry, which has supported ECPs that dispense Essilor products and created greater visibility and interest in eyewear and eyecare.”

At Essilor, Lauri Crawford leads a team driving innovation and brand value. “Our focus is to be more customer centric, data-driven and results-oriented, to create demand and increase consumer engagement to drive growth for the independent ECP and the industry.

“One of the key areas of responsibility for delivering long-term value to Essilor is managing the marketing function from a people standpoint—insuring our organization is structured effectively, that our people are engaged and developing into strong marketing managers, business managers and future leaders.”

Crawford is also co-chair of Essilor’s IDEA Committee which leads inclusion and diversity efforts. Her career began in human resources, and that first role at Pepsico Foods was a foundation for understanding career development and “investing in the importance of people.”

She finished her MBA at Kellogg/Northwestern, went on to Proctor & Gamble and then to Nike (first managing a major region and then, a move to Nike HQ overseeing all retail marketing.) After six years at Nike, she chose to take a three-year career break to focus on family. “It was important to have that time and create balance away from demanding work.” She re-established her full-time career, in the software arena, before she was recruited to join Essilor in 2013.

SHE SAYS… “My goal is to inspire others to become who they are intended to be, to take risks and to deliver what is possible.”


Luisa Delgado

PRESIDENT AND CEO
Safilo Group
Padova, Italy

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Luisa Delgado joined Italy-based Safilo Group, the industry’s second largest eyewear company, less than two and half years ago as its first female and first non-Italian CEO in the company’s 82-year corporate history.

Having spent time as a non-executive member of Safilo’s board, Luisa Delgado was fascinated by the company’s back story and its potential, when she agreed to the job of CEO. A 2020 strategic plan was developed with Safilo’s board and executive team to transform the Group. Today, the team is re-examining manufacturing and design, Safilo’s brand portfolio, sales operations and systems “to become a partner of trust” of optical retailers and ECPs worldwide.

Also a non executive director at IKEA, Delgado brings strategic perspective to her current job. She served as board member and chief of HR for SAP AG, the global software giant, and prior to that she spent 21 years at Proctor & Gamble (P&G) where she worked in several local and international roles.

Born in Switzerland, Delgado graduated from the University de Genève and holds a LLM from King’s College/University of London. She cites her upbringing in the Swiss mountains, speaking the country’s “fourth” language of Romansh and came to learn this was a strength not a liability. “I remember gaining self-confidence when someone pointed out to me that ‘different’ was a ‘plus,’ and I’ve since tried to behave as a leader who is different and encourages different points of view.”

SHE SAYS… “A leader’s role is to build possibilities and opportunities, to empower and not constrain. Be yourself – with skill.” She adds, “In our industry, women have a unique place. We see so many more women among the 3 Os. There’s an emotional intelligence, intuition, the extra edge women can bring to match the right and left side of the brain together. Safilo used to be an almost all-male Italian group and now among our top 125 leaders, 30 percent are women.”


Rebecca Giefer

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Modo
New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has contributed by surrounding herself with talented young managers, by mentoring them to continuously grow and increasing the revenues of Modo.”

Upon her graduation from New York University in 2004, Rebecca Giefer joined the Modo family. Moving up through the customer service, sales and operations channels, Giefer held several positions with the company before being promoted first to vice president of operations then to chief operating officer in early 2014.

Giefer, who played a crucial role in implementing various web and digital technologies into Modo’s operations, has improved the efficiency of the business as well as created a smooth customer experience.

She takes her inspiration from various places, and always considers it a reminder that “the concept of ‘self-made’ is truly a myth.” Along with her family and friends who are “incredible, genuine people” she is inspired by “Modo’s entrepreneurial-minded CEO Alessandro Lanaro who sets an unequivocal pace in innovation that I want to meet in Modo’s U.S. sales and operations.”

In her personal life, Giefer is an avid runner who has run across the Sahara desert twice as a part of the Marathon Des Sables. She is also a soccer enthusiast and has attended two World Cups.

Her strong sense of teamwork has spread not only through Modo’s New York offices, but within the global operations of the company, and has seen the company through double-digit sales growth in each of the last two years.

SHE SAYS… “I’m inspired by the Modo team because they are committed to our goals but have great personal stories as well. They are artists, athletes and family-focused people.


Anne-Marie Lahr, OD

DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Hoya Vision Care
Lewisville, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “In addition to speaking with and training thousands of people, Dr. Lahr launched Empower U, Hoya’s comprehensive and free online education tool for independent eyecare practices.

Soon after graduating from the Ohio State University College of Optometry in 1991, Anne-Marie Lahr, OD, completed a primary care residency at the Eye Institute at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia, followed by an international teaching fellowship at the Hogeschool Utrecht in the Netherlands. Since then, she has embraced several roles in the optometry field, working in a retail chain, an optometric practice, a medical practice and in academia.

Lahr has always been drawn to teaching, and it shows: she has twice earned the Clinical Science Teacher of the Year Award; recently earned the Educator of the Year Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University; and she has served as a clinical specialist for iScience Interventional, a company which develops microcatheter and imaging technologies enabling site-specific ocular therapies.

At Hoya, Lahr is responsible for all internal and external optical and product education.

“If I can get [doctors and opticians] to understand the benefits [of ophthalmic lens products], then they can get patients to understand. Education will close the purchase gap and help independent practices overcome commoditization,” she said.

SHE SAYS… “I would not be in my current role if it weren’t for Barney Dougher, president and CEO of Hoya Vision Care, NA. He had the vision to pluck me from the world of academia and the faith that my expertise would change the way optical education is implemented.”


Donna J. Mikulecky

VP, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Vision Source
Kingwood, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Donna is in charge of the 170 Vision Source Administrators. These optometrists are all leaders in their field. She helps shape how the administrator team mentors local optometrists and helps them get the tools they need to be successful and have maximum impact.”

Donna Mikulecky’s career started in public accounting, where she focused primarily on health care clients. Before joining Vision Source in August of 2014, she spent a year and a half in health care consulting and for 14 years prior to that, worked for a large integrated health care system, where she was president of the employed physician group.

“As vice president of Professional Development, I am responsible for working with our 170 administrators, who are our optometrist leaders, as well as our 110 Vision Source Representative Facilitators (VSRFs), who are our staff leaders. In this role, I provide our administrators and our VSRFs with tools and resources to effectively do their jobs and to ensure they continue to deliver value to our members.

“When the opportunity to work with Vision Source was presented to me and after I understood the mission, I was immediately impressed and wanted to use my business skills to help. Optometry can play an important role in population health management and its role in our overall health care system is not widely recognized. In working with Vision Source, our administrators and VSRFs, I hope to change this.”

SHE SAYS… “Be your best. Whatever you do—give it your all and be the best you can be.”


Kate Renwick-Espinosa

PRESIDENT
VSP Vision Care
Rancho Cordova, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Trendsetter, motivator, innovator, mentor, leader are all words that apply to Kate. She demonstrates a commitment to an environment of trust, respect and individuality.”

Kate Renwick-Espinosa has spent 24 years in marketing and communications at VSP, becoming marketing VP for Vision Care (when she was previously recognized among VM’s MIW in 2005), then being named VSP Global’s first chief marketing officer. A new organization structure took shape last October under the leadership of now-CEO Jim McGrann and she was promoted to president of VSP Vision Care.

VSP Vision Care serves 80 million members and some 56,000 clients. Renwick-Espinosa said, “I’m responsible for growing our VSP membership and creating patient opportunities with professional optometry. Today, VSP members want to be treated as individuals. This requires a deeper understanding of the member, being more ‘human-centric,’ and discovering what will make each individual a member for life.”

Citing the multidimensional nature of careers in vision, incorporating health care, fashion, manufacturing, technology and more, Renwick-Espinosa recommends the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) as a way to connect. “I’ve seen more women in leadership roles. For example, my executive team today is half women. Some of this has been due to new opportunities and more women being willing to take risks and be uncomfortable. Women can feel they need to be completely prepared for new assignments or new roles in the workplace, but that isn’t practical or realistic. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not learning.”

SHE SAYS… “There are plenty of well-known women I admire, including Sheryl Sandberg and her messages in “Lean In.” But the women leaders who inspire me the most are the ones I work with every day at VSP.”


Kim Schuy

PRESIDENT
Essilor Vision Foundation - Americas
Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Kim’s passion, knowledge and keen intellect has made her an asset to Essilor for a number of years in many parts of the company. Her contributions to the sun business have been global and Kim has now brought that passion to the foundation where she has already made a difference by inspiring others to believe in the cause through donations of time and dollars.”

Kim Schuy was drawn to the optical field because of the parallels she saw in the world of dermatology, where she started her marketing career at Procter & Gamble. Schuy worked on the Olay skin care account managing marketing efforts for both consumers and doctors. She joined Essilor in 2005 as brand manager for Varilux, and spent the last three years as global VP of marketing for sunwear. Schuy was drawn to Essilor because “the company is always changing—their goal is to continually evolve and innovate.”

She was named president of Essilor Vision Foundation (EVF) in January. “I help our team provide underprivileged children the opportunity to live a better life through better sight. In the coming year, EVF will double our reach to provide services to nearly 200,000 children in the U.S. this year.”

Schuy has created growth by engaging partners to maximize existing non-profits who share in the mission to conduct eye exams and provide no-cost eyewear to children in need. “We aim to reach over one million children by the year 2020.”

SHE SAYS… “Change is inevitable and also valuable. We must embrace it and stay current. Today, medicine is evolving across specialties—we must expect and want the same for optical.”


Michelle Skinner

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF OMNI CHANNEL DEVELOPMENT
VSP Global
Rancho Cordova, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She coordinates sales strategies, programs, and processes while facilitating partnerships across VSP Global’s companies to deliver a unified global experience to customers.”

Michelle Skinner began her career 22 years ago at VSP Global, where she helped create the company’s Altair eyewear brand. She left to take a sales management position at Marchon, remaining with the company after it was acquired by VSP in 2008. After rejoining VSP two years ago, she led the Altair business and helped develop Premier, a commercial program that connects the Marchon and Altair eyewear brands right to VSP members and then directs them to Premier locations.

In 2016, Skinner moved to the newly created position of senior VP Omni Channel Business Development. She is now responsible for the Premier program, Retail and Franchise relations, leading a team of 19 employees.

Skinner believes that to be a successful manager one must not only think strategically, but also be able to listen to others and trust your gut instincts. She encourages team members to develop both their EQ (emotional intelligence) and IQ, a combination she believes is particularly powerful.

Skinner offers this advice, gleaned from an early mentor: “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. Be curious. That can be your greatest strength. It ensures that you do things differently than everyone else.” She added, “Be authentic, be you, not who you think others want you to be.”

SHE SAYS… “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


Yvette Waddell, MBA

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Brien Holden Vision Institute
Sydney, Australia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Yvette’s caring, passion, dedication and commitment to the Brien Holden Vision Institute are unmatched.”

As chief operating officer of the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia, Yvette Waddell is responsible for managing its overall operations and business development initiatives including the licensing of new technologies developed at the research facility. Named after founder and esteemed leader, the late Professor Brien Holden, the Institute is affiliated with the University of New South Wales’ School of Optometry.

The core mission of the Brien Holden Vision Institute is to eliminate vision impairments by promoting leading edge research and technologies in vision correction. The Institute fosters global collaboration among eyecare professionals in the fields of optical education, research, public health and business development. As COO, Waddell’s focus is to continue the legacy of Professor Holden, and to promote within Brien Holden a “healthy, vibrant work environment where people grow and learn, new ideas flourish and scientific breakthroughs happen.”

Waddell, who joined the Institute 23 years ago in the finance area, attributes her career success to being able to work with outstanding leaders in the industry like Professor Holden, who she said, “inspired and guided me for my entire career.” With so many different avenues of opportunity for women to assume leadership roles, Waddell expects the influence of women to continue to increase throughout the optical industry.

SHE SAYS… “It’s never ‘I did this or that.’ It is always WE. WE can do so much more together than as individuals.”


Mary Walker, COE

Executive Director, COO
Vision Associates
Warren, New Jersey

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Over her five-year tenure, she has been instrumental in reorganizing Vision Associates and doubling sales.”

In 1989, Mary Walker, an ABO optician, joined the ophthalmology practice of Dr. Alan Hefner who ran an optical dispensary as a convenience for patients and hoped, at best, not to lose money operating it. Over the course of 19 years, Walker turned that single location dispensary, which was barely breaking even, into a highly profitable, multi-location optical profit center. In 2011, she earned her Certified Ophthalmic Executive (COE) designation and with Dr. Hefner’s blessing, moved on to bigger challenges.

Today, Walker is executive director of Vision Associates, a firm that provides a complete comprehensive management program and consulting services for over 100 ophthalmologist owned dispensaries nationwide. Although ophthalmology dispensing was once viewed as a small player in the optical market, noted Walker, today some of the most successful dispensaries reside in ophthalmology offices. “I strive to drive ophthalmology dispensing to the levels I know can be achieved,” said Walker, whose business successes reflect that goal.

Walker believes that careers in optical “offer an amazing blend of medical and hands-on technical work, and the ability to have an incredible daily impact on people’s lives.” The key to success, is to “stay current, keep your optical foundation solid, continue to learn and most importantly, align yourself with people who share your core values.”

SHE SAYS… “Never lose sight of why we all do what we do, to provide the best possible eye-care and visual solutions to every person.”


Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI

PRESIDENT
VOSH International
Omaha, Nebraska

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Weiss leads by example in community service, holding leadership roles in many professional and community service organizations. She involves and educates optometric students, and inspires them to become more involved in their profession and communities.”

When assuming the presidency [at VOSH International], I set a goal to increase our contact with students,” said Ellen Weiss, OD, who has led the charge in advising more than 75 state, regional, school and international chapters. “With our emphasis on sustainable eye clinics, expansion of our VOSH Corps program to place U.S.-trained optometrists in optometry schools to teach in Nicaragua, Uganda and Malawi, and our Technology Transfer Program to take donated equipment and place it in schools and clinics in developing countries, [VOSH] is making an international difference. I’m proud to be a part of this effort,” she said.

Weiss has volunteered her services in several countries throughout Latin America, but her inspiration to become an optometrist came from home. “I have a visually impaired younger sister, and an older brother that had strabismus surgery twice. It seemed like my family was always at the eye doctor’s office,” Weiss said.

Soon, it was her own optometrist who encouraged Weiss to consider optometry school, and she later graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis in 1992. Since then, she has held dozens of affiliations and roles in and outside the optometric field. In addition to her work with VOSH, she also practices at Millard Family Eyecare in Omaha, a Vision Source member.

SHE SAYS… “I love what I do and am so glad I became an optometrist.”


Cynthia Williams

GENERAL COUNSEL
1-800 Contacts
Draper, Utah

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Cindy Williams leads discussions and recommends solutions on high-impact government and legal issues for contact lens wearers, 1-800 Contacts and contact lens retailers. She spearheaded the Coalition for Contact Lens Consumer Choice, establishing relationships with Costco Wholesale, Lens.com and consumer interest groups.”

Cynthia Williams has been the General Counsel of 1-800 Contacts for the last year. She started her career as a trial lawyer and later practiced as an in-house lawyer. Her experience includes launching a government affairs department and PAC at a fortune 1000 publicly traded company.

Currently, she manages the legal and legislative affairs team for 1-800 Contacts, which includes legislative work at the state and federal levels as well as legal and regulatory work. She said, “A major accomplishment for me included working to highlight to legislators and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the often forgotten requirement in the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act of 2003 (FCLCA) for eyecare professionals to automatically release prescriptions.

“I became interested in the optical field because it presented an opportunity to advocate for Americans across the country, which has been a lifelong passion of mine that started with providing pro bono legal services and later fighting for the rights of the residents in my community.”

SHE SAYS… “I have been inspired most of all by my immigrant father, who had an unparalleled work ethic. He instilled that work ethic in me and told me that I could achieve seemingly impossible goals with hard work and determination.”