Laura Angelini

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
North America and Global Franchise Development
Jacksonville, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “What best describes Laura is strong strategic thinking, energy and passion, and people focus. Laura always tries to put people first, whether patients, doctors, customers or employees. She likes to bring the right balance of mind and heart, with the right combination of IQ and EQ.”

Laura Angelini joined Johnson & Johnson Vision Care in 2013, but has worked in the health care business for 24 years. Since joining Johnson & Johnson in 1991, she has held positions of growing responsibilities across health categories, in mature and emerging markets. After a successful career in Europe, she moved to the U.S. in 2012 as VP global strategic marketing for Ethicon, and was named president North America and global franchise development for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care in September 2013.

Earlier in her career in 1994-95, Angelini launched 1-Day Acuvue in her home country of Italy, the first ever daily disposable contact lens, when she was the marketing manager for Italy at the time.

Today, she leads the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care business and organization for North America as well as global franchise development, with responsibility for global strategic marketing, global insights and analytics, global professional affairs, global sales training, sales force effectiveness and sales operations.

“Our industry is complex and very dynamic. We see many transformations. We face a more challenging marketplace … but a more interesting one as well. My greatest challenge is to make the right bets for the future, so that Johnson & Johnson Vision Care can continue to transform this industry and provide extraordinary patient experience.”

SHE SAYS… “I believe my responsibility is first to people, the doctors, our Acuvue patients and our Johnson & Johnson Vision Care employees, to bring healthy vision to everyone, everywhere, every day.”

Susan Cooper, OD, FAAO

World Council of Optometry
Ontario, Canada

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has enabled a constructive environment making the WCO more professional, strategic and responsive to optometrists globally.”

Susan Cooper, OD, is president of the World Council of Optometry whose vision is “a world where optometry makes high quality eye health and vision care accessible to all people.” The WCO’s mission, she explained, is to facilitate the development of optometry worldwide and to support optometrists in promoting eye health through advocacy, education, policy development and humanitarian outreach. Under Cooper’s leadership, the WCO is organizing the 1st World Congress of Optometry to be held Aug. 14 to16 in Medellin, Colombia. It will provide a forum to share information, research and strategies designed to improve patient care.

Cooper has been in private practice in Ontario for 38 years, and is retired from the faculty of the University of Waterloo. Her international focus began there with her role as director of the International Optometric Bridging Program that helped internationally educated ODs transition to practice in Canada. She was the first woman president of the Ontario College of Optometrists, and received the Cobean Award from the Ontario Association of Optometrists for outstanding contributions in education and regulatory work.

She credits the unwavering support of her colleagues, staff and her husband and four sons, as essential to her success. “Anything can be accomplished if you have the will to learn and work hard.”

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by Winston Churchill’s quote: ‘We make a living by what we get…we make a life by what we give.’”

Jan Cory

Silhouette Optical, Ltd.
Green Island, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“Jan is a highly engaged leader. One who inspires, challenges and motivates her team, to achieve both personal and company goals.”

Jan Cory cites Nick Caraway from The Great Gatsby as an early inspiration, who, in speaking about advice he’d received from his father said, “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Some of Cory’s advantages have included several years spent in retail buying and the fashion accessories market, before joining the optical industry in 1998 as vice president of department store sales for B+L. She then moved to Luxottica when they acquired Ray-Ban and then to Viva International. At Silhouette International, it is her responsibility to assure they have a growing and sustainable place to work while contributing to the well-being of their employees and community.

“In my first 10 months I am proud of the spirit of teamwork I have brought to the organization, looking to improve processes and prepare for growth,” she said. “I have a passion for building high performing businesses and teams.”

“I believe this is a historical time to be a part of the optical industry as it’s part of the health care reforms,” Cory concluded. “There is nothing more talked about than the change the U.S. is facing in this area.”

SHE SAYS… “It’s a vast industry with many working parts. Don’t be limited by what you’ve already done—stay open to new possibilities. Never stop networking.”

Sally M. Dillehay, OD, EdD

Vice President, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs
Visioneering Technologies, Inc.
Alpharetta, Georgia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has the grit to get things done, she supports and encourages colleagues, and brings a creative ‘let’s try it a new way’ approach to her job.”

When Sally Dillehay was in sixth grade, her teacher showed a film about optometry in health class. “I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do, and I have loved every minute of my career,” she said, looking back at her many accomplishments over nearly three decades in eyecare.

After earning OD and MS degrees in optometry and physiological optics from Ohio State University College of Optometry, Dillehay became a staff optometrist at The Vision Center of Central Ohio. She then joined the Ohio State faculty as an assistant professor of optics, and served as chief of ophthalmic prescription services and associate chief of clinical services. She moved to Ciba Vision and became director of academic affairs, then took on various management roles in marketing, clinical trials and research.

In 2008, she joined Visioneering Technologies as chief medical officer and vice president of clinical and regulatory affairs, overseeing the clinical development of Visioneering’s NaturalVue 1 Day Multifocal from its earliest stages to the final product ready for the market.

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by a quote from The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, in which a man looking at his life, asks ‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’ It reminds me to strive for excellence and to never let the status quo be good enough.”

Jennifer L. Geertz, OD

Bird’s Eye Optometry Ltd.
Batavia and Hodgkins, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She works endlessly to promote optometry within her own practice and within Walmart. She helped to found the Energeyes Association because she saw a need for corporate optometrists to have their own organization.”

In addition to staffing and managing two busy independent practices inside Walmart Vision Centers, with three full-time and two part-time doctors, Jennifer L. Geertz, OD is also a founding member of the Energeyes Association and is about to become treasurer of the organization.

“I love that women have become so influential in optometry. I am thankful to see women, like me, on the boards of associations like Energeyes, making significant contributions to advisory panels.”

Geertz feels that her greatest challenge is to stand out from the crowd. “I have chosen to build my practices inside a corporate setting, and want to send a message to my patients as well as the industry, that I am practicing full scope optometry. As an independent doctor working in a corporate setting, I have the ability to practice optometry in its most wholesome form. I can advocate for my patient by recommending the very best for them.”

Her personal philosophy is the same in her professional life as it is in her personal life. “I treat my patients, as I do my friends and family, with care, respect and kindness. My business slogan reads, ‘See why caring is contagious.’ I am thankful for all of the wonderful patients I have had the pleasure to serve and care for over the years.”

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by people who overcome great obstacles and adversity in life and handle themselves with grace, love and courage.”

Ellen Haag

Essilor of America
Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has implemented unique sales strategies that have reset the bar on success, particularly in practices that had not historically been successful with premium brands.”

Ellen Haag broke into the optical industry in 1990 as a sales consultant for Tura. She rose through the sales organization to become regional manager, winning leadership awards in the process. She then moved to ClearVision Optical, where she was recognized for bringing the most new business to a territory.

In 2000, she joined the Spectacle Lens Group of Johnson & Johnson to be a part of the first sales organization for the then-new Definity progressive lens. When Essilor acquired the Definity lens business, she joined the transition team, working first for the Essilor Lab Group before heading up a new specialty team called the AR Business Consultants. This team has evolved to become the ECP Service Consultants, which now works with ECPs to execute on Essilor’s “Doctor Driven Process,” a comprehensive approach to vision solutions for patients at the dispensing table.

“Beyond any sales award or President’s Club, my accomplishments have led to the greatest responsibility and opportunity of being in a position to instigate change and make an impact with a team of incredibly talented brand sales leadership, brand consultants and specialty consultants.”

SHE SAYS… “My advice for women in the optical industry is that you should believe that every opportunity can be an opportunity for you. Benchmark yourself against the best of the best, regardless of gender.”

Carol Interlandi

L’Amy America
Wilton, Connecticut

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Carol is very well respected and a wonderful support to our staff professionally and personally. We owe Carol a very big thank you for her fantastic enthusiasm, loyalty and incredible hard work over the last 25 years.”

Carol Interlandi is celebrating 25 years with L’Amy but that wasn’t always the plan. “I got into optical totally by chance,” she explained. “I interviewed with L’Amy and from the first meeting knew it was an opportunity for change. For me, it meant moving from a regimented ‘Fortune 50’ environment to a smaller company where the contributions of individuals are important to the success of a company. It just so happened that L’Amy was in the optical industry.

“I believe that my role is akin to that of a customer service representative,” she explained. “Employees, as well as management, are my ‘customers’ and my role is to assist and support everyone and all departments within the organization.

“My most important strength is my passion for what I do and if I excel it’s because I truly enjoy it. My role here is purposeful and that encourages me to do the best I can,” she said.

“I’m dedicated to L’Amy and our employees and happy to be supporting both. The great variety of products and services that make up the ‘optical business’ all have one common goal; to provide something that betters peoples’ lives—that makes it a rewarding industry.”

SHE SAYS… “There are many roles in the optical industry offering the opportunity to use your talents and creativity to do something that has a positive impact on peoples’ lives, so find a position that you enjoy, one that plays to your talents and strengths, and you’ll have a rewarding career.”

Liz Lyons

Focal Pointe Eye Care
West Chester, Ohio

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Liz leads with passion and heart and has the business background to implement important strategic moves that have increased practice revenue.”

When Liz Lyons co-founded Focal Pointe Eye Care in 2008 with her optometrist husband, Dr. Michael Lyons, her business credentials included experience as a retail manager and small business owner. She also had a personal understanding of the importance of vision health. She is legally blind, having lost most of her vision in her early twenties. Lyons was misdiagnosed for years until a doctor detected hereditary juvenile macular degeneration. “Even the thought of that day brings tears to my eyes,” she said, recalling when someone finally “got it!”

At Focal Pointe, Lyons strives passionately “to provide a patient centered atmosphere, where we listen and in turn, can help people see to the best of their abilities.” She guides staff team building efforts to deliver the highest level of patient care, and oversees office administration. Under her leadership, the practice has grown substantially.

“I feel I can make a difference when I get the opportunity to talk with a fellow low vision patient,” said Lyons. She refuses to let her lack of vision define her or restrict her goals. “I offer motivation to others who may be losing their vision.”

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: ‘In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.’”

Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez

University Eye Center
State University of New York College of Optometry
New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As executive director of one of the largest eyecare clinics in the country, she has the ability to affect the eyecare of thousands of New Yorkers.”

Liduvina Martinez-Gonzalez is passionate about delivering quality health care and eyecare services to the New York City community. With over 27 years of experience in health care management, including 24 years at SUNY’s College of Optometry, she has devoted her career to public health. Today, she is the school’s first woman VP of Clinical Administration and the first non-optometrist executive director of the University Eye Center. Her advancement in a variety of administrative roles at the college has provided a broad understanding of the organization and its many components, preparing her for these challenging roles.

The University Eye Center has over 70,000 patient visits annually with a clinical staff of about 60 full-time and part-time optometrists, 11 opticians and 75 support personnel, and serves as a teaching facility for optometrists. Martinez-Gonzalez has introduced professional development programs for the staff and revamped the EMR and practice management systems. These efforts have increased revenue, employee engagement and patient satisfaction.

To be successful in your career and in life, Martinez-Gonzalez believes that you need to invest in your passion and in the people you work with. “Our most valuable asset is our staff,” she noted.

SHE SAYS… “Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do; I think about this when faced with a challenge which may seen daunting.”

Donna J. Mikulecky

Vision Source
Kingwood, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her role as vice president of professional development includes leading, mentoring and overseeing over 170 doctor administrators who lead local regions within the Vision Source network, and she is a role model to both women and men in the company and across the membership.”

A CPA in health care for over 25 years, Donna Mikulecky joined Vision Source in August of 2014. As vice president of professional development, she provides 170 administrators with the resources to effectively do their jobs and deliver value to members. “In the 10 months I have been with Vision Source, some of my major accomplishments have been the creation of a more robust onboarding and orientation program for our administrators, success factors/goals for our administrators and dashboards and metrics to help them evaluate their success,” she said.

Her advice to other women in the optical field, “Do what you can to help other women succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. I often thought I had to know everything, but it is in asking questions you learn a lot more and create more opportunities.”

She believes that optometry will have to evolve to meet consumer demands, many resulting from women. “Women will continue to demand customer-centric, affordable, convenient and easily accessible options for eyecare services and products.”

SHE SAYS… “I’ve always been motivated to do the best I can at whatever I am doing. Now that I have two children, I tell them to always be and give their best at everything they do, so I try to lead by example.”

Sherry Lanier Pugh

Optical Prescription Lab (OPL)
Optical Supply Co-op (OSC)
Pelham, Alabama

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She stays on top of technology with digital processing so ECPs can have the best lens possible with quick turnaround time to ensure that they retain their customers.”

Sherry Lanier Pugh started in the lab business at age 14 when her mother started Optical Prescription Lab (OPL) in 1977. Although somewhat reluctant at first, she learned the business as she gradually took on more responsibility.

By her own description, Pugh is “extremely detail oriented, an excellent troubleshooter, and does not easily accept no for an answer.” Those qualities have enabled her to play a key role in growing the business into one of the most successful independent labs earning Optical Prescription Lab’s many awards, including Vision Monday’s Top 20 Labs 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.

Currently, she oversees the daily operations at OPL and Optical Supply Co-op (OSC) a buying group for labs that she created in 1997. She manages accounts receivable and payable for OPL and OSC, is the purchasing and ultimate decision maker for OPL, and negotiates pricing and special offerings for OSC. Pugh takes pride in providing employment and a career for 21 people who support families, many of whom have insufficient education to secure a career with an opportunity for advancement.

SHE SAYS… “Show up and be persistent; face time is invaluable. Always be on time. Attempt to go above and beyond your customer’s expectations. Always deliver on your promises. There is no traffic in the extra mile.”

Tonya Reynoldson, OD

Vision Source/ River Valley Eye Clinic
Waverly, Tennessee

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Tonya has made a significant impact on optometry in Tennessee and is an excellent candidate for further office in regional and national associations.”

While most people would say that their biggest accomplishment is success in their business, Tonya Reynoldson, OD, believes that her biggest accomplishment is “having an open mind to learn each day from my staff, patients and peers.”

Reynoldson, a mother of three, has been in practice for 14 years. After finishing a residency in ocular disease and working as center director for cataract referral in Jackson, Tenn. for two years, she opened a practice from scratch, and nine months later, she purchased an existing practice. Now, along with her business partner, Michelle Harrison, they have four practices between them.

When it comes to the optical field, Reynoldson believes that it is always personal. Whether it’s seeing a patient after hours or giving up personal time to work with vision therapy patients, she takes great strides to reach out.

“I think we do these things because it’s personal, and we all hold a personal stake in each of our communities and patients’ lives,” she said.

Juggling work and family might be Reynoldson’s biggest challenge, but her biggest strength is dreaming big. To other women in the field, she advises them to never quit. She noted that the percentage of women in optometry has grown past “our male counterparts.”

“Last year, when I became president of our state association, I was the second female to be president in our state. The first female was 20 years ago…women are becoming leaders and innovators in our profession.”

SHE SAYS… “You give love, you get love.”

Debbie Schmitz

LensWorks Optical Labs
Plymouth, Minnesota

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Labs all over the world have implemented a lot of processes and procedures with Debbie’s fingerprints all over them. Her influence is widespread.”

It only takes a moment of talking with Debbie Schmitz to realize she’s a people person. “My favorite thing is talking with customers, troubleshooting problems and recommending solutions for their patients,” she said. “Opticians really struggle sometimes, and they need a sounding board. I love being able to help them. As an independent lab owner, I can sell them what’s going to work best for them, and offer a personal touch.”

Schmitz’s expert advice is based on nearly three decades of experience in the lab business. She began her career as a data entry operator at Twin City Optical in Minnesota, where she learned how to stock, surface and finish lenses. In 2006, she and her partners Lyle Olson and Brian Workman, founded LensWorks Optical Labs. Today, the lab has 17 employees and serves customers throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota.

A hands-on manager, Schmitz is involved with all aspects of the lab, including manufacturing, sales and marketing, product management, customer service and inventory control. She has taken on the role of the lab’s system manager, including their DVI system, remote ordering systems and digital surfacing processes. She has the knowledge and the desire to optimize all processes involving the lab, which includes helping DVI design and test new software.

SHE SAYS… “My inspiration comes from my passion for business, customer service and ever changing technology.”

Lisa Stann

SVS Vision
Mt. Clemens, Michigan

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a born leader and a detailed-minded executive who allows people the room to operate and function on their own while maintaining specific guidelines for their actions.”

With a career of 20 years with SVS Vision, Lisa Stann has helped guide the company through challenging times and periods of growth, sometimes simultaneously. Starting as an optician, she steadily worked through the ranks to district manager, director of retail operations, VP of retail operations, and now, EVP/COO. After she helped grow the company during the bankruptcy of both GM and Chrysler, SVS has seen double-digit sales growth over the past five years, opening more than 10 offices with plans to open 10 more this year alone.

Taking a customer-centric approach to everything, Stann always knew she wanted to help people, so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity to work as an optician came about. “I’ve enjoyed assisting patients with their eyecare needs and educating them on the importance of their eye health,” she said. “To this day, the desire and passion to serve our patients is what drives me.”

She also assisted in restructuring the executive team to align each functional area with the same retail focus that was instrumental in the rebranding of the company and the launch of its new EyeDef Lenses.”

SHE SAYS… “Empowerment breeds success. When empowered, not only do you accept the responsibility for failure, you are given the opportunity to succeed. Whoever offers the best customer service wins.”

Lorraine Voorhees, OD, MS

Marshall B. Ketchum University
Fullerton, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “For nearly 40 years, Lorraine has worked with optometry students as an educator, admissions director, dean and now vice president for student affairs.”

As an optometry student, Lorraine Voorhees, OD, assumed she would enter clinical practice after graduation. However, when faculty members encouraged her to consider academia, she changed directions. Looking back over her long and successful career as an educator and academic administrator, she has never regretted that decision.

“Optometry is a wonderful and fulfilling career with many opportunities,” said Voorhees. She began her career as a faculty member at Southern California College of Optometry, and then became an administrator in student affairs. Today, with SCCO’s transition as part of Marshall B. Ketcham University, she is vice president for Student Affairs, working with optometry and physician assistant students, and future pharmacy students.

Voorhees has witnessed the dramatic rise of women in optical over the last 40 years. She was the only woman in her graduating class of optometry students; today, over 60 percent of the optometric students are women. “They bring enthusiasm for the profession, honest caring for their patients and a desire to see the profession move forward.”

Voorhees sees a strong inclination in today’s young optometric professionals to get involved in community service, locally and with foreign medical mission trips.

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by all of the optometry students, past and current, that I have known, especially their passion for the profession and their genuine goodness and caring for others.”

Christine Yeh

Executive Editor
20/20 Magazine
New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Christine manages, edits, reports, writes and energizes 20/20, the optical industry’s leading publication for products, trending, lens tech and style. 20/20 impacts optical, but Christine impacts 20/20.”

For Christine Yeh, the road to 20/20 Magazine was a circuitous one, but has been well worth the trip. Armed with a B.S. in management/marketing, she joined Jobson Medical Information’s marketing department and moved into the Optical Group as a special projects coordinator. After a promotion to marketing manager she went on to become senior marketing manager, eventually managing all optical marketing operations.

During her stint in marketing she contributed guest columns for 20/20 and articles in 20/20’s Upfront section. In 2010, Yeh joined the 20/20 editorial team as managing editor and in 2014, was promoted to executive editor.

“For me, 20/20 is the best of many worlds; it’s more than an eyewear magazine—it’s fashion, it’s product, it’s lens tech, it’s education—and I get to work with all of it on a daily basis,” Yeh said.

Today, she is responsible for managing and editing all pages in 20/20. Her 20/20 career highlights include cover feature stories with makeup artist/eyewear designer Bobbi Brown and Oakland A’s infielder Eric Sogard. Recently, she interviewed fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg on camera for an episode of the reality show “House of DVF.”

SHE SAYS… “I didn’t choose the optical field—it chose me. After being at Jobson for 15 years and experiencing the ins and outs, I’d say there’s no other place I’d rather be.”