Lisa Adams-Mahepath, OD

Sterling Optical
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Lisa Adams-Mahepath expanded the scope of practice of Optometry in the Virgin Islands with the Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Optometric Act ( Act No. 7376).”

Dr. Lisa Adams-Mahepath, who received her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her Doctor of Optometry from Pennsylvania College of Optometry, is the first local optometrist to practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is also the first female and local to serve on the Board of Optometrical Examiners in the U.S. Virgin Islands, from October 2004 to present.

In July 1997, Dr. Adams-Mahepath, along with her husband Joel, opened Sterling Optical Virgin Islands on St. Croix. A year later, they opened a second location on St. Thomas. “With the opening of Sterling Optical, a monopoly in the eyecare industry was broken in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Dr. Adams-Mahepath said. “The goal was to provide quality and affordable eyecare for the community.”

In 2001, the couple started the footprint for Cohen Fashion Optical in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In less than five years, there were three offices on three different islands.

Dr. Adams-Mahepath also worked with the legislative branch of government to expand the scope of the practice of optometry in the Virgin Islands, with the introduction of the Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Optometric Act (Act. No. 7376) in 2012.

One of Dr. Adams-Mahepath’s personal philosophies and mantras as it pertains to patient care is to “treat patients as if they are family members.” Her philosophies have kept her in business for 23 years and counting.

SHE SAYS… “My mother was my first and most significant mentor. She was a simple woman with a minimum of a junior high school certificate, yet she viewed education as a path for upward mobility, financial stability, and independence for her daughters. My Mom instilled the values of hard work and perseverance, and these two attributes drive me to work 6 days a week with 10 to 12 hour days.”

Amanda L. Barker-Assell, OD

Advanced Family Eye Care
Denver, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Deeply involved in mission work, Dr. Barker-Assell is also passionate about serving the community—especially patients who have vision-related learning problems.”

Dr. Amanda Barker-Assell knew from a very young age that she wanted to have a career in health care and to be involved in some kind of mission work. “Well I am a Type A, high myope (-9D to be exact), so I started visiting the eye doctor at a very young age. Like many other high myopes, my first glasses and more importantly my first contacts were life changing. It seemed natural to me to take an interest in a field that would allow me to protect this most precious sense of vision for others,” she said.

She opened her eyecare practice with her husband in January 2004, just two years after they graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. While she treats patients of all ages, she has a primary emphasis in vision therapy and rehabilitation for pediatric patients, as well as traumatic brain injury patients.

“My strengths are likely also my flaws. I am driven, dedicated, and willing to work hard. Developing and executing plans and strategies are some of my strengths. I would say these characteristics lead to a successful practice, but sometimes it is hard for me to stop and enjoy the small victories,” she said.

Over the years, she’s been involved in various mission projects in many countries. During one of these vision-related mission trips, they met Khaleda, an 8-year-old girl they would soon adopt and who suffered from a life-threatening blood disease.

“Through Dr. Barker-Assell’s experience with her daughter, she gained a personal understanding of the power of literacy, as well as a passion for serving underprivileged populations through providing vision and literacy services—which has become a major pillar in their practice,” said Steve Rosinski, OD, who nominated Dr. Barker-Assell.

Sadly, Khaleda passed away in 2016, but her memory lives on through BlindSight, a nonprofit that Dr. Barker-Assell and her husband started in her honor. “The focus of our non-profit is to serve vision and literacy needs domestically and abroad,” Dr. Barker-Assell said.

SHE SAYS… “At the end of my career, I hope I will have led by example and been an encouragement to others.”

Patricia Bobilin

Managing Director
Southern Region Eye Designs Group
Trappe, Pennsylvania

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Patricia is a consistent star in sales and assisting clients above and beyond the normal sale of a product. She literally works seven days a week to make sure her clients have the best tools to deliver the most complete and effective patient experience in today’s competitive optical marketplace. She brings knowledge, experience and complete integrity to every relationship she forms and once a client works with her, they’ll work with her for the rest of their career.”

Patricia Bobilin has spent 31 years in the optical industry, growing from one of the first female district managers at Marchon to her current role at Eye Designs Group. At Eye Designs, she oversees nine southern states in the creation of new and renovated ophthalmic environments, providing solutions in custom furniture and displays, and assists in marketing and product development.

For Bobilin, the most important part of her work is helping ODs understand the retail aspect of their business. She said, “I work diligently to impart good information to them so that they feel they are making the best decision.” Through her work, Bobilin has consistently helped doctors achieve double-digit sales increases.

For Bobilin, success comes through hard work, but also careful listening and genuine honesty. She said, “It’s amazing what you’ll learn if you just listen. I think I have a great passion for what I do and I think it shows. I think that’s why I excel at this.” A member of the Optical Women’s Association, Bobilin believes women will “lead change together, and support each other in the process.”

SHE SAYS… “Always be truthful with your staff and your patients, your clients and in life. You don’t need a good memory if you’re always being truthful. Be an empathetic listener and be yourself!”

Elaine Booth

Regional Vice President of Operations
Eyemart Express
Farmers Branch, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Elaine Booth joined Eyemart Express more than 25 years ago and worked her way up to the VP level after serving as a store manager and district manager. Over the years, she has personally taken on associates from all levels as mentees, and has helped them grow. She recognizes strengths and opportunities in team members, and works one-on-one with each person to benefit their long-term career path.”

Elaine Booth, a longtime Eyemart Express employee, said she was inspired early in her career by her mentor Teresa Mason, who is now vice president of product merchandising at Eyemart Express. “She was my store manager at the time, and pushed me to see myself as she did,” Booth said. “She encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to develop leadership skills. I strive to pass that support on to others who may not recognize their own special talents.”

Booth actually began her optical career more than 30 years ago while working at Pearle Vision. She subsequently worked at Eyemart Express’ Sherman store for 12 years. “As my knowledge increased, I became ABO certified, and my optical career progressed. There is not a single job at the store I have not done,” Booth said.

She used her in-store and in-depth experience to move up to a position at the Eyemart Express home office as a region vice president of operations in 2005. In this role, she assists in managing the overall store operations for 118 Eyemart Express locations, which includes overseeing training, financial records, inventory controls, and personnel administration and she makes sure these procedures remain consistent throughout the region.

SHE SAYS… “I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and mentoring others. If you think of the mentoring process like a construction project, I work closely with our associates to create a solid foundation, and then serve as a support system between their building blocks of knowledge and experience. It is gratifying to see them proudly stand tall at the end of that journey.”

Melanie Denton Dombrowski, OD, MBA, FAAO

Founder and CEO

Salisbury Eyecare and Eyewear
Salisbury, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Denton has a passion for patient care and recognizes the eyes as the window to a person’s overall health. After closing her office to all but emergency and urgent visits during the pandemic, she used her YouTube channel to keep her patients educated and engaged during this difficult time.”

Dr. Denton Dombrowski became an OD because she’s a -4.00 Rx—and because of her great uncle, an optometrist himself, who convinced her to take the OAT. Today, she owns and runs her own practice, which she said “started at zero patients and grew very rapidly.” She and her team make sure to “slow down and take the time to ensure our patients not only have a thorough exam, but also have a full understanding of their condition and treatment plan.”

By utilizing social media, particularly YouTube, Dr. Denton Dombrowski has made her local, independent office internationally accessible, spreading important eye health information to all who need it. “My team is incredibly talented at their jobs and they work so well together. We’re truly providing a one of a kind patient experience and we change something almost every single day to make it better.”

But local impact is important, too, Dr. Denton Dombrowski said. “My involvement has become more local and community based since starting a practice. I’ve been on the county board of health, chamber board, and our local Rotary Club. I am of course an AOA and AAO member, as well as my state society. I’ve been in OSSO and Women of Vision and on their boards in the past.”

SHE SAYS… “Accept nothing less than excellence from yourself and your team. Don’t listen to the word no, it’s not an endpoint. Consider looking to other industries to gain inspiration for what may be possible in your own career/clinic. Dream big and work hard. Figure out what’s most important to you, and achieving that is success.”

Kathie Sapnas

Regional Sales Manager

Collegeville, Pennsylvania

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Kathie is focused on engaging women and developing leadership potential. She takes every opportunity to give back in her personal and business life.”

Kathie Sapnas said her daughter might be the reason she joined the optical field. “Not long after my daughter was born I started to experience difficulty with my vision,” said Sapnas, who started her career in sales management in the cosmetics industry. “This was the first time I had ever had changes in my vision that required correction.”

After visiting her ECP, she went to an optical dispensary and fell in love with several frames. This visit had a huge impact on her because shortly after purchasing three pairs of glasses (two ophthalmic and one sun) she began to seriously think about a career in the optical field.

“A few months later, I took the plunge and applied for a position with Luxottica. I made the attempt to change my career focus, knowing that it was going to be a whole new world and I was excited about the possibilities,” said Sapnas.

At Luxottica, Sapnas has led a team of sales consultants for Luxury and Premium Fashion brands in the New York and Pennsylvania (NYPA) market for the past five years. Her team serves the needs of their customers, learns about their business models and strategies, and then recommends a course of action using Luxottica products to grow their business.

“My goal is to become more than a vendor, through honest business conversations and listening to the challenges that they face, I strive to become a trusted partner and advisor. I was fortunate to be contacted for an interview and to this day I remember being asked what I wanted in my next position.”

Her philosophy when it comes to her role in the optical field is “Leave it better than you found it.”

SHE SAYS… “Each day, I have the opportunity to interact with many people—my team, my accounts and my coworkers. I strive to help bring out the best in each personal interaction through active listening and asking probing questions to uncover their needs and have a meaningful conversation.”