Beverly Bianes, OD

Optometrist, Partner Owner

Pack & Bianes Vision Care Optometry
Chula Vista, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has been a practicing optometrist for 30 years and is currently director of Charitable Outreach for Total Vision where she was able to develop the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program that provides a free eye exam and glasses to a neighbor that has been significantly impacted by COVID- 19…She uses all of her skills and resources to lift others.”

After being fitted for contact lenses in 8th grade, Dr. Beverly Bianes knew she wanted to become an optometrist. “This experience changed my life. I was a quiet Asian girl who sat in the front of the class because I was embarrassed to wear my glasses for fear of being teased. After being fitted for CLs, my confidence grew. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to work in a profession that allowed me the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of others.”

Upon graduating optometry school and moving back to San Diego, Dr. Bianes joined and became a board member of the San Diego Optometric Society and served as director of professional affairs for five years. As a private practice practitioner in her home community for 30 years, Dr. Bianes has always felt an obligation to give back to the people that helped build her practice.

As the current director of Charitable Outreach for Total Vision, Dr. Bianes focused on the mission of reaching out to the community in need by creating the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program. “The program was designed to target those hurting in our local community. We asked our patients to nominate friends, family members, colleagues, or local businesses that were significantly impacted by COVID-19, to receive free exams and glasses.”

SHE SAYS… “No one succeeds alone. Find ‘advocates’ who do not judge, but assess where you are and where you want to be. They will help you understand that the challenges you face will stretch you and eventually make you grow. When you do succeed, remember to reach down and bring other women up with you.”

Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, FAAO, FSLS, FBCLA

Vice President of Clinical and Professional Affairs

Needham, Massachusetts

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She oversees innovation for Scleral, BostonSight’s first commercially available scleral lens.”

Raised in a family of educators, education has always been central to Karen Carrasquillo’s life. Her initial interest was in chemistry, and she earned a PhD in that field. But while doing post-doctoral studies at Mass Eye and Ear, Dr. Carrasquillo, who has been passionate about the eye and ocular physiology from a very early age, discovered the world of clinical ophthalmic research. That led to studies at the New England College of Optometry and a residency at BostonSight, a nonprofit eye health care organization and research center dedicated to saving sight and improving quality of life for patients.

“At the time, I didn’t know anything about scleral lenses, but I saw what these pieces of plastic could do to change people’s lives,” she recalled. Following her residency, she took a job at BostonSight, where she has immersed herself in scleral lens design, research and treatment for the past 15 years.

Today, she leads the BostonSight PROSE (Prosthetic Replacement of The Ocular Surface Ecosystem) Fellowship Program, training optometrists in the treatment, management, and prosthetic device design for patients with challenging ocular surface disease. She is the program chair and founder of FitAcademy, an educational retreat for cornea and contact lens residents.

Dr. Carrasquillo also oversees innovation for BostonSight Scleral, BostonSight’s first commercially available scleral lens. She has expanded education nationally and abroad, particularly in Latin America, Europe, and India. Dr. Carrasquillo holds two patents, has presented 58 seminars and posters, and has published two book chapters in ophthalmology.

SHE SAYS… “Support other women and connect with other like-minded women. Find ways to differentiate yourself. Find a niche, identify a passion and develop it. Don’t give up on your dreams. Go for it!”

Marissa Cundiff

Vice President of Marketing

Kenmark Eyewear
Los Angeles, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Marissa has brought us to another level as far as marketing, digital content and outreach, overall integration of new ideas and opportunities are concerned.”

It has been 18 years since Marissa Cundiff joined the optical industry as a product intern at Kenmark while in her final year of college. Her road has had many stops, taking her from an internship at Disney World post-graduation to Kenmark’s vice president of marketing, working in the company’s social media and communications departments along the way. Cundiff said taking on these varied roles helps her see the big picture, and understand her current work from the perspective of every department at Kenmark.

Over the years at Kenmark, Cundiff has spearheaded the company’s growth in a few areas—most notably in suitability and charity work, as well as the launch of Paradigm and Kenmark’s collaborations with Gemma Styles. These are the accomplishments she is most proud of, alongside the growth of Kenmark’s digital presence and its 2017 rebranding, which rocketed the company to where it is today. Cundiff strives to constantly push herself, remain curious, and take inspiration from the world around her, helping her see where Kenmark can go, thrive and be different from the rest.

SHE SAYS… “Dig deep, do the work, stand out, and live in the grey area. Stay inspired and motivated and always be open to change so that you continue evolving. Continue to push yourself, take every opportunity to learn, and try new things in your role—this will make you stand out as an employee and as you grow will help your company stand out as well. It definitely pays to be different and go down new paths you may have not seen taken yet; luckily there is lots of opportunity and room for growth in the industry. Always go with your gut, it’s always right.”

Trish Farley Olson

Director of Marketing

ADO Practice Solutions & DONE4YOU Marketing, a Walman Company
Minneapolis, Minnesota

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “More than 20 years of marketing and team leadership experience led Trish Farley Olson to the role of director of marketing at ADO Practice Solutions, a Walman Company. She is responsible for the planning, development, and initiation of marketing strategies across the division including the development of the DONE4YOU marketing service within ADO.”

Trish Farley Olson’s passion and innovation have led to an “optical return on investment” on marketing spends. She believes it is important to build a strong relationship with independent businesses, supporting their day-to-day needs and growth goals.

“As an optical professional, you want to focus on the end consumer’s needs, and marketing is an area where we can be a partner. That partnership has worked well over the years and it’s what keeps me motivated and excited about each day.”

Olson believes it is important for women to find opportunities to learn and collaborate to help grow their careers within the optical industry. She feels it is vital for women to be open to new ideas and test the waters. She has used this approach in both her professional career and her personal interests. She is currently a member of the Optical Woman’s Association and served on the board of directors for Meals on Wheels.

SHE SAYS… “I believe that creating development opportunities and having open communication with team members has created a wonderful team dynamic and staff tenure. My favorite saying is ‘Do What You Do Better!’ Plus, loving what you do, helps.”

Melanie Frogozo, OD, FAOO, FSLS, Diplomate CLCS

Chief Optometrist and Director of Clinical Operations

Alamo Eye Care and Contact Lens Institute of San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She’s made it her life mission to deliver superlative contact lens care…her commitment is evidenced by her many titles and accomplishments.”

It was during Dr. Melanie Frogozo’s first years in practice that she became interested in advancing her knowledge in eye disease and specialty contact lenses. Since then, she has been mentored by some of the top leaders in the field of cornea and contact lenses; and she’s acquired an impressive list of accomplishments that make her truly innovative.

Aside from being the chief optometrist and director of clinical operations at Alamo Eye Care and Contact Lens Institute of San Antonio, she’s a Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lens, and Refractive Technologies section of the American Academy of Optometry. This is among the profession’s highest honors, which places her in a highly elite group of internationally recognized doctors who make contact lenses their practice.

Not surprisingly, her contact lens expertise is unmatched in the Texas Hill Country. Most of her patients have either damaged or diseased corneas that limit their visual potential, so her care is often life-altering.

“I’m inspired by the challenges of specialty and medically necessary contact lenses,” she said. “I love to restore comfort and vision to those with demanding visual needs, and I’m committed to serving the profession and educating the next generation of optometrists.”

To further elevate the role of optometrists and ensure doctors of optometry are at the forefront of eyecare, Dr. Frogozo serves in a variety of roles—advisory board member, council member, adjunct faculty member, contributing columnist, international lecturer, and key opinion leader.

SHE SAYS… “Women are the future of optometry. Follow your passion and carve out your unique niche with a focus on superlative patient care and customer satisfaction.”

Teresa Mason

Vice President, Product Merchandising

Eyemart Express
Farmers Branch, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Teresa started working at Eyemart in our Sherman store over 25 years ago. She managed that store for several years before she was personally asked by Eyemart Express founder Dr. Barnes to work in the home office and take over the merchandise function. For more than 20 years, Teresa has been evolving Eyemart Express’ frame offering based on customer demand, trends, optical advancements, and competition. She has been able to keep a 29-year-old retailer relevant and efficient when it comes to its main offering of frames and accessories.”

For nearly 30 years, Teresa Mason has helped transform the products at Eyemart, ensuring they are always fashionable and quality pieces. In fact, the optical industry has been a family pursuit for many years. “My mother worked in the wholesale side of the optical business, and I helped out part-time while in school. I never moved away from the industry. I continued to work hard and grow through the years and that part-time job turned into a career.”

As VP of product marketing, Mason is responsible for the design and development of all frames and accessory selections for more than 230 retail locations. “My leadership and participation in product design and development have produced many private label brands and the management of trending national brands has contributed to the company’s success and profitability.”

She believes her role is more than just assembling frame collections, but having a greater impact on both customer’s lives and her colleagues, which her mentor, Dr. Doug Barnes, founder of Eyemart shared with his staff. “He taught me to stay true to who we are but always be open and look for new innovations and ways to improve our selection and service. I have had many other mentors and advisors throughout my career including associates, colleagues, leaders, and our suppliers. All of whom were, and still are an essential part of my vast experience and success.”

SHE SAYS… “I am part of an organization that truly cares for customer needs and brings to market the best quality and fashionable eyewear at an affordable price along with exceptional service. Also, I contribute through mentoring, helping and encouraging others to grow in many facets of the optical business.”

Anila J. Nadkarni

Senior Director, North America Wholesale Strategy

New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her strategic initiatives support the growth of the organization and the industry by bringing to life innovation and solutions that build the long-term success of our customers and partners.”

When Anila Nadkarni was young, she needed glasses but was too embarrassed to wear them. Over the past eight years, her work at Luxottica has helped counter that challenge. When she first joined Luxottica, she was impressed with their reputation of building strong brands and relationships in the fashion industry.

“I loved that we offer such a great variety of frames that people love to wear and that allow them to have the best vision,” she said.

After many years of experience in senior roles—including finance and brand marketing (serving as former director of Luxury brands)—she developed strong industry knowledge and brings an extraordinary analytical and strategic mindset to the table.

In her current role, Nadkarni is responsible for leading some of the most critical strategic projects for Luxottica Wholesale North America. In partnership with Luxottica’s sales leaders, she supports crafting Luxottica’s go-to-market approach and commercial strategy, driving initiatives such as EssilorLuxottica 360 and Luxottica Rewards, and shaping the company’s service approach in the field.

She also plays a critical role in implementing cutting-edge digital tools, driving their adoption, and evolving their features to continually adapt to market needs.

“I’m proud that our company not only offers frames that build confidence in patients who wear them, but also supports organizations like OneSight, which provides access to vision care to those in need all over the world, making an impact in how people see and experience their potential,” she said.

SHE SAYS… “Success is not measured by accomplishments, it’s measured by how you get up when you fall.”

Charlene Nichols

CEO & Founder

SellSMART Not Hard, Optical Near ME & My Vision Show
Centereach, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Charlene has designed and hosted My Vision Show, a virtual platform bringing optical people together virtually. Her forum, speakers, vendors and overall feel of the event offers up a warm and inviting experience.”

Charlene Nichols started in the optical field in 1996 at Nu-Chems Labs, which would later become known as OptiSource. When OptiSource was acquired by Essilor, Nichols became one of their select territory consultants. In 2017, she began working at Stereo Optical as a global sales manager. From there, she decided to leave her corporate role and begin working in entrepreneurship.

Nichols said, “I felt independent awareness was key so I focused on building a digital marketing company, SellSMART Not Hard, which was designed to help eye doctors and opticians build websites with a purpose to educate their customers.” Through this, she saw the need for eyecare providers to take their eyewear stores online, so she created an online marketplace, Optical Near ME. “We partnered with several couture frame designers, digital lens labs, virtual technology developers and several other independent consumables providers,” Nichols said.

These collaborations resulted in the idea of a virtual trade show where their network could be used by independent eyecare professionals. My Vision Show went live in early 2019 as a beta, with the full launch scheduled for March 2020. Of course, that is also when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning. Nichols said, “Our solutions were already positioned to empower those that needed technology to bridge the gaps in accessibility and deliverability so it gave us an opportunity to truly put our technology to the test.”

Nichols and her team continue to develop Optical Near ME and My Vision Show, and she is working on new collaborations that will continue to support the independent eyecare community.

SHE SAYS… “Going to my first trade show was the final deal breaker. I would never look back—I was an optical professional and I was proud to associate myself with such great people.”

Karen Samuelson

VP Customer Experience, North America

Hoya Vision Care
Lewisville, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Karen is an influential innovator because she understands the nature of customer service and the trends that will give Hoya a competitive advantage in the future.”

Karen Samuelson’s career journey to the optical industry has been anything but linear. An industrial engineer by training, she spent her early career supporting missile production. She then spent two decades as a leader in the online travel industry—where she discovered her passion for customer service. And six years ago, she found her niche in the optical industry as Hoya Vision Care’s VP of customer experience for North America.

“This role and this industry are everything I love all in one place—manufacturing, technology, health care and customer service,” she said. “It really is my unicorn job!”

In her role, Samuelson is responsible for the 125-person customer care organization across the U.S and Canada, and for all major channels (e.g., ECP, wholesale). Her major accomplishments fall into two categories.

The first is technology, which she expanded both internally and customer-facing. Internally, Samuelson’s efforts increased visibility into service delivery and performance metrics. And externally, the new Hoya Hub self-service ecosystem gives customers real-time access to account and patient information without having to rely on customer service.

Her second transformation was in people development. Over six years, she has helped geographically dispersed teams become part of a united customer service organization with clear direction, expectations, oversight, and most importantly, a sense of belonging.

SHE SAYS… “The optical industry is vast, with wide-ranging opportunities. Pursue what moves your heart and inspires your spirit, and be willing to listen and learn. Bring your collaborative spirit and your individual perspective to all you do. And most of all, be unwilling to fade into the background.”

Laura Walker

Vice President & Business Unit Head, Digital Innovation

Fort Worth, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Laura focuses on the digitization of the patient journey and offers critical patient/practice connectivity, which was especially important during the pandemic-related shutdown. She is the driving force behind MARLO, a digital solution focused on keeping optometrists connected to their patients throughout the contact lens journey, while helping ECPs retain critical contact lens revenue within their practice.”

How does Laura Walker describe her role at Alcon? As an action-oriented digital leader driven to delight customers and exceed business expectations. Her journey into the optical world began as a child when her grandmother had cataract surgery. She says this event changed her perspective on the world around her and of herself.

“The opportunity to make a difference in someone’s daily life and to positively impact their perception, as it did for my grandmother, led me to pursue a career in eyecare.”

After graduating with an MBA from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University, she quickly parlayed her skills into a successful career with Alcon, helping launch and develop key programs including MARLO, a simple and convenient contact lens ordering experience that patients have come to expect from online retailers, offered within their eye doctor’s practice.

Walker said her success has come from her ability to tap into the diverse experience, skills, and ideas from across her entire team, giving every associate, regardless of their position or level, a voice and allowing them to advocate for the needs of our customers and the team in their own way. She said her team’s passion, ideas, and commitment inspire her every day.

In her role, she tries to create opportunities for ECPs to stay connected and relevant throughout their patient’s eyecare journey, noting a customer-centric approach allows her team to balance the needs of the optometrist and their practice against the desires of their patients to provide a unique digital solution that keeps them connected and relevant throughout the eyecare journey.

SHE SAYS… “Listen closely to your customers and those closest to the customer, as they will tell you what matters most. Those insights will unlock new opportunities. Then, ruthlessly prioritize the work, experiment to learn, and embrace failure. By doing so, you and your team will grow both personally and professionally while delivering delight to your customers.”