Carol Alexander, OD, FAAO

Johnson & Johnson Vision
Jacksonville, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a tireless advocate for optometry. With her background as a practicing optometrist and incredible professionalism there is no one better to represent our profession. There is no half way with Carol—she is all in.”

At Johnson & Johnson Vision (JJV), Dr. Carol Alexander’s primary responsibility is to coach speaker’s teams to deliver meaningful conversation to colleagues and to help them illustrate success with Acuvue Brand Contact Lenses.

Dr. Alexander represents JJV in state legislatures in about 15 states where she’s offered testimony in support of bills important to the vision care community. She currently represents JJV in the Coalition for Patient Vision Care Safety and participates in various Congressional briefings and meetings with policy makers.

Prior to attending optometry school, she studied optical technology at Columbus Technical and was an instructor at Owens Technical College. She started working at a local practice and eventually earned her optometry degree from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. She went on to private practice for several years before taking on the role of director, professional affairs at J&J/Vistakon in 1997.

Alexander is active in the Ohio Optometric Association where she was their Young Optometrist of the Year in 1992, she advanced to become its president and later a trustee. She was also a national AOA Young Optometrist of the Year.

Alexander noted, “Opportunities abound for leadership roles for women, and all it takes is a willingness to step beyond your day job into positions of leadership to make a difference. I believe that we practice in a future we help to create.”

SHE SAYS… “Get involved in all aspects of your chosen profession. Bring your valuable insights to the conversations that shape the future. Put patient health and safety at the forefront of all you do and you can’t lose.”

Leslie C.M. Amodei

Marlborough, Massachusetts

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a dynamo who supports the company’s organic growth and acquisition strategy and directs global launch activities.”

In 2010, Leslie Amodei joined Optos, a leading provider of retinal imaging devices to ECPs. With over 25 years of global medical device sales and marketing experience, she has successfully advanced the company’s global leadership in ultra-widefield retinal imaging through strategic initiatives, differentiated capabilities and strong product positioning. A key initiative, explained Amodei, is developing strategic alliances with key provider groups to convey how Optos’ imaging devices enable them to prevent vision loss by uncovering critical information in the peripheral retina, improving both clinical outcomes and practice efficiency.

With a degree in psychobiology and advanced studies in marketing, Amodei found the optical field a perfect fit professionally because it focuses on both science and people. The founder of Optos, she noted, developed a way to produce ultra-widefield retinal images to find precursors to sight threatening conditions earlier and treat them sooner. “I’m proud to sell a product that helps eyecare professionals save sight,” said Amodei.

Amodei credits her success at Optos to her colleagues, who she described as “the greatest marketing team in the industry. They know our goals, make positive contributions and give 120 percent effort every day.” Her advice to women entering the industry is threefold: One, always ask yourself if your attitude is worth catching; two, set clear and achievable goals; and three, make sure you like the people you work with.

SHE SAYS… “I get inspired by the people I work with; I’ve been fortunate to work with really bright people and have learned so much from all of them.”

Emily Ashworth

ABB Optical Group
Coral Springs, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Emily Ashworth is responsible for driving online business and leading the ongoing development of the company’s exceptional e-commerce platform. She is involved in strategic decisions, growth opportunities, mergers and acquisitions, expansions, day-to-day operations and customer interactions involving IT.”

When a company grows quickly, often the systems, processes and infrastructure needed to support and sustain this growth come later. So when ABB Optical doubled in size between 2013 and 2014, the challenge for IT was to develop the systems and processes to support this growth. “The excitement and energy associated with [such] growth often propels heroics and adrenaline, but doesn’t typically put in place the necessary foundation,” explained Emily Ashworth, who joined ABB as the growth wave began three years ago.

Ashworth addressed the challenge by implementing her vision of what is necessary to create a collaborative and cohesive work environment. She brought the entire IT organization together in one space—a bright, open-work environment with writeable walls, collaborative desk design and standing meeting tables. Seating was set up to intersperse people and skills strategically to increase collaboration and productivity.

This led to “a one-team atmosphere as well as an incredibly efficient work space,” Ashworth said. “At any time, you can see the walls covered with all sorts of diagrams, sketches, brainstorms and other creative efforts.”

Ashworth previously worked in a potpourri of industries, including distribution, utilities and construction.

Her responsibilities at ABB cover all information technology (IT) functions, from information security and application development to infrastructure and operations, project management and e-commerce. Keeping up with the IT needs that support ABB’s growth stands out as one of her greatest challenges. The key, she said, is to balance priorities and resources.

SHE SAYS… “Women are [better] represented than they were a decade ago in optical, but still under-represented in leadership, ownership and operational positions. There continues to be opportunity for the addition of women leaders in these areas.”

Amanda Davis

Brien Holden Vision Institute
International Agency For Prevention Of Blindness
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She makes a significant impact on vision correction and eye treatment needs for indigenous communities in Australia and developing communities around the world, including China, India and Pakistan, and many countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.”

Amanda Davis took over the reins as chief operating officer of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Public Health in 2006. She drove the agenda to host the 1st World Congress on Refractive Error (WCRE) in 2007 in Durban, South Africa, the first time the international eyecare community came together to address the needs of hundreds of millions of people globally who are unnecessarily blind or vision impaired because they don’t have access to an eye examination and pair of spectacles.

The 2nd WCRE went ahead under Davis’ guidance in 2010. The organization has flourished with her at the helm, and in total since 1998, delivering optometric services to more than three million people in need through programs in more than 50 countries; established over 400 vision centers or sites for eye-care worldwide; training almost 140,000 eyecare personnel around the world and supporting 13 optometry schools in 10 countries with over 60 emergent globally. It also now employs close to 100 staff members across 12 offices globally.

“One thing I believe in strongly is making sure children get access to eyecare, particularly girls,” Davis said. She encourages the optical industry’s support of “Our Children’s Vision,” an international campaign supported by The Brien Holden Institute and other organizations.

SHE SAYS… “What inspires me are people that care about those who are less fortunate than themselves and will drive to ensure those most marginalized are given opportunities to succeed in life.”

Lisa Fawcett

Victor, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Lisa has worked to identify the products and capabilities CooperVision needs to advance market position, and performed make/buy/partner analyses to identify investment priorities. She also developed a product lifecycle and technology development roadmap for future investments linked to market-driven customer needs.”

Lisa Fawcett was introduced to eyecare before reaching her teenage years. “I started wearing contact lenses when I was 12 years old—it was life changing,” she said. “I felt more comfortable ‘in my own skin’ wearing contact lenses. Being able to provide devices that allow people to feel more like themselves while helping them see better is very gratifying.”

Today, after 20-plus years of professional experience, Fawcett is a key executive at CooperVision, where she leads a five-year strategic planning process that includes the identification of new product launch opportunities, market expansion opportunities and new areas of innovation. She also led global ideation process that resulted in the 10-year product pipeline, which aligned CooperVision’s commercial, R&D and operations organizations; and brought specificity and focus to key strategic objectives driving long-term growth.

At CooperVision, she also drove a company-wide master brand initiative that aligned the entire organization under a single, differentiated corporate brand promise, one set of powerful core values, and a bold, global visual identity.

Fawcett attributes her success, in part, to being able to combine in her professional endeavors the quest for the new and innovative, balanced with fact-based decision-making and a strong dose of resilience.

She advises women, regardless of their field, to learn as much as they can about their chosen profession, take note of trends inside and outside the industry, and take the time to dig into the details of the items that matter.

SHE SAYS… “Innovation comes from observing and considering the world beyond your day-to-day activities. You can still be diligent and fact-based, but you should also be open-minded so new ideas can seep in, roll around and grow.”

Cheryl Massa

Vice President, Operations
Davinci Equity Group
Saginaw, Michigan

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She leads by example. Her exceptional abilities, knowledge and leadership have taken the operations of our company to a new level.”

Cheryl Massa’s career trajectory reflects the range of opportunities for women in optical. Massa started working in an optical lab while in college running lab equipment. This led to positions in lab management, frame purchasing and retail management, and to her current role as head of operations for Davinci Equity Group, a multi-store optical retail chain. Looking back over her 30-year career, Massa said, “I am grateful to so many people who have inspired me and had faith in me along the way.”

Massa’s philosophy on how to succeed in the optical business is simple: “Treat your patients and co-workers the way you would treat your family, with respect and kindness.” This resonates in her personal management style. “I listen and care about our patients and employees. I encourage, empower, support and believe in every single one of our teams. We have amazing people who genuinely care about our patients and each other,” Massa noted.

Massa believes that opportunities for women in optical are expanding as women have become more confident in their roles. “I have seen more women empower other women,” she said, adding, “I love sharing knowledge with women who have the desire to learn and cultivate.” Her advice to women seeking a career in optical is to be “positive and learn something new every day. Have faith in yourself and never give up.”

SHE SAYS… “What inspires me is people with a positive attitude … who believe patient care will always remain the key to a successful business.”

Ashley Mills

The Vision Council
Alexandria, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Ashley’s influence on the industry cannot be overstated. She directs the efforts made on Capitol Hill to protect the industry, as well as those efforts that build the business, from Think About Your Eyes to leading the partnership of the Vision Expo shows.”

With a deep background in communications, Ashley Mills was first introduced to the optical industry in 2003 when she joined The Vision Council’s show team handling marketing for International Vision Expo. Having previously worked in consumer marketing at global PR firms, Mills said, “I could not believe my good fortune to find a consumer-facing industry that was equal parts health care and fashion.”

In 2006, Mills left The Vision Council to consult “but always hoped to return.” Prior to rejoining The Vision Council team in January 2016, she held communications roles at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and The Council on Foundations.

As CEO for The Vision Council, Mills is deeply immersed in the organization’s mission “to position members for success by promoting growth in the vision care industry. We work to ensure that we are supporting that mission and are ultimately providing value for the membership. We’ve created a values team and worked to craft core values for our organization that guide how we hire, make decisions, serve our mission and support each other,” she said.

“Despite the fact that we are all competitors in some way shape or form, I still think there is so much we can do together as partners. I’m so encouraged by our participation in the Think About Your Eyes initiative. There is no greater example of finding common ground and working together to have significant collective impact.”

SHE SAYS… “My son and daughter inspire me. I honestly believe that their minds and dreams are free from any notion that there is any difference between what a boy or a girl can achieve in life.”

Heidi Q.T. Pham-Murphy, OD

Visions Optometry
Eye Designs Optometry
Sacramento, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She provides clinical leadership and has an exceptional way of connecting with her patients, team and organization.”

In her optometric practice, Heidi Q.T. Pham-Murphy, OD, strives to make the patient experience “very personal.” This includes not only the delivery of vision products and services, but the friendliness of the staff, the office environment, the clarity of eyecare messages and the competence of vision solutions and treatments. “The entire experience is what creates who we are and our ability to deliver our brand to our patients each day is so vital to our success,” she said.

In providing clinical care, Pham-Murphy draws on “my ability to ‘see’ through the eyes of my patients and to understand how they experience the world, so that I can educate them in terms that resonate.” Communication, caring and empathy are the qualities she shares with patients and with the 60-member team behind Visions Optometry and Eye Designs Optometry, which she manages with her optometrist husband.

Pham-Murphy credits the support she gets from her staff and family members which enables her to be a full-time mom and industry leader. A VSP network member, Pham-Murphy has been a spokesperson for VSP and Johnson & Johnson, and has shared her eyecare expertise on TV and radio interviews.

She is also clinic director for the Special Olympics-Lions Club International Opening Eyes program in her region. “Communication through education is what I enjoy. I want to make a difference each day and with each interaction that I have with my patients and others.”

SHE SAYS… “A child’s world is as big as his or her vision can reach.”

Karen Roberts

Carl Zeiss Vision International
Lonsdale, South Australia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a dynamic, inspiring leader, striving to create win-wins for consumers, customers and co-workers while achieving company objectives.”

The optical industry has been Karen Roberts’ passport to the world. During her 32-year career in optical, she has lived and worked in Australia, Asia, Europe and the U.S. In 2005, Roberts joined Carl Zeiss to manage the company’s international business unit responsible for commercializing freeform and AR coating technologies.

In this role, she works closely with corporate and local commercial teams on developing new business initiatives and after-sales technical and business support capabilities. She also manages associated intellectual property strategies and led the patent litigation efforts that enforced Zeiss freeform patents.

Driving her passion for optical, she said, is her love of new technologies and the innovative solutions they enable. “My personal philosophy is to focus on understanding our customer’s needs,” Roberts explained. “Zeiss has wonderful products and technologies, giving us the flexibility to deliver solutions to suit each customer’s requirements. I’ve also been lucky to work with an amazingly competent team of people who are equally passionate about the business and excited about embracing and driving change.”

Roberts serves on the executive board of The Vision Council and chairs its Lens Division.

She sees influential women advancing in all facets of the optical business, bringing with them a strong emphasis on listening, empathy and team building, which is so critical to business success.

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by how diverse and interesting the optical business is and amazed at how rapidly it is evolving with new technologies and a passion to help people see.”

Andrea P. Thau, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, DPNAP

Dr. Thau and Associates
New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As a clinical professor at SUNY Optometry, she has mentored and influenced students over a 32-year period, in the areas of leadership and clinical pediatric care. A founding member of the InfantSEE committee, Dr. Thau helped to launch the national public health program which has had a profoundly positive impact on pediatric patient care.”

Dr. Andrea Thau has been practicing optometry for some 33 years and her ties to her alma mater, SUNY State College of Optometry, and her dedication to the American Optometric Association (AOA) run deep. At SUNY, she has held titles of day chief, assistant professor and associate clinical professor emerita. At the AOA, she has held posts as trustee, secretary-treasurer, vice president, and most recently was the second woman president of the organization for 2016-2017.

For 32 years, Dr. Thau has trained generations of students with a special emphasis on pediatrics and developmental vision. And for the last 30 years, she has owned and operated a four-woman doctor practice on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

“As one of the founders of InfantSEE and as a lecturer who teaches other ODs how to examine infants, I take some credit in the over 100,000 babies that have been examined. There are thousands of lives that have been changed and many whose lives have been saved,” she said.

As for the AOA and state associations “they are the unified organizations that connect us to each other, to practice success, to the officials who make health care laws and to the public at large. Together, we fight for the profession and our patients and it is critical that all doctors join us.”

Dr. Thau considers herself a people lover and a natural leader. “My kindergarten report card put it best, ‘she is a great leader but knows when to follow.’”

SHE SAYS… “I have been inspired to pay it forward to thank the volunteers (including my father) who came before us and advocated for the advancement of our profession. We were put on this world to make it a better place. We need to use our talents to help advance the profession so that we can better care for our patients.”