Linda Blain

Divisional Vice President of Sales, Canada

Marchon Canada
Dorval, Quebec

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Linda has built up an incredible following of customers and sales executives who trust in her advice and support and are energized by her contagious passion for business. Through many years of experience, she is recognized as a team builder, but even more important, she treats her team members as part of her family.”

Linda Blain entered the optical industry 33 years ago, and joined Marchon Canada in 2001. Now, as vice president of sales for Canada, Blain doesn’t see her job as selling frames—for her, it’s about building relationships and offering a unique selling experience, with a laser focus on customer service. She takes true joy in helping her sales team grow as individuals, and in building connections that grow beyond business, blossoming into friendships too. Blain knows that the people she works alongside have put their trust in her—and that’s something she says she deeply values and respects.

For Blain, COVID-19 has confirmed just how important it is to be a strategic and unique business partner to Marchon Canada’s customers. Her main priority throughout the pandemic has been to listen to customers’ needs and support them however possible, all from a distance. She and her team developed new and improved working methods over the past year, growing closer together despite the physical distance.

SHE SAYS… “Build a solid network, engage with your contacts, ask questions and be open to learning new ideas throughout every stage of your career. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from a simple conversation. The eyewear industry is simply fascinating—indulge yourself in it and you will not regret making a career out of it.”

Robin Brush, ABO

Training and Education Manager

Safilo North America
Omaha, Nebraska and Secaucus, New Jersey

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Robin has worked in optical for the last 26 years with a focus and purpose to educate and lead others to see their true potential… She was a beacon of shining light for Safilo customers, as well as the Safilo sales force, during the early months of the COVID shutdown by educating customers and reps alike how to put their best foot forward during their pandemic and make the most of the downtime… Robin is an incredible presenter and a true rock star at Safilo. To know her is to love her and to be inspired by her.”

In 1995, Robin Brush, ABO, joined the optical industry as a Walmart Vision Center manager. She eventually transitioned into private practice and then, after a guest speaker appearance at Safilo’s national sales meeting in 2018, took on a full-time position at Safilo. In her current role, assumed in 2020, Brush trains Safilo employees internally, and travels to provide CE to Safilo customers across the U.S. and Canada.

Travel and connection with customers are integral to Brush’s role, but COVID restrictions threw a wrench into everything. At the start of the pandemic, Safilo launched a series of educational webinars with Brush as the sole trainer—within two months, Brush created 62 webinars, reaching over 3,100 customers in 19 countries, and translated into three languages. Far reaching and impactful, Brush’s impact has shaped optical for the better.

SHE SAYS… “This industry is full of possibilities for women. Become the best at what you’re doing right now. Develop those leadership skills and take them with you to the next level and the next. Don’t give up. I’ve dreamed of being where I am at this very minute for 15 years. I never gave up until I saw that dream come to fruition.”

Anna Dixon

Director, Managed Vision Care Business Development and Support

Fairfax, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As director of business development and support, Anna leads a team of four and a department of 70 that supports the patient experience with the insurance claim process, a critical piece of the MyEyeDr. value proposition/promise to patients… She has the ability to see the claims experience from the staff and the patient’s point of view, and her focus is always on the patient experience.”

Anna Dixon has been in the optical industry for 14 years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from Harding University and began working in the optical industry in 2007 for The Hour Glass and South East Eye Specialists where she eventually worked her way up to chief operating officer.

When The Hour Glass and South East Eye Specialists partnered with MyEyeDr. she joined the MyEyeDr. family in a regional operations role and served once again as the lead on the company’s conversion to a new electronic medical records platform. “During that time, I had the privilege to share my experience by working with new offices and optometrists as they were going through the acquisition process. For the last five years, I have worked in the managed vision care space for MyEyeDr. focusing on building office support teams, training and development, and growth and expansion protocols.

“As the director of managed vision care business development and support, I help oversee many of the areas where we are growing and adopting new business to include helping facilitate onboarding our integrations with our managed care processes as well as helping lead our revenue integrity and patient access functions.

“I strive to uncover the real root cause of the problems we are trying to solve. Understanding this helps create more holistic process driven solutions that provide efficient and structured processes to help make the chaos feel manageable.”

SHE SAYS… “Be extremely self-aware and know the value that you bring to the table. Discover what your strengths and weaknesses are and always align yourself with people who complement and fill gaps in your skill sets. Stay humble and grateful.”

Juanita Fisher

Regional Sales Manager

Tura Eyewear
Portsmouth, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Juanita has a stellar reputation for her professionalism and knowledge of our industry. Her experience has allowed her to mentor not only the sales professionals she directly manages but also help guide and assist her colleagues in management.”

Juanita Fisher has always been interested in the optical industry. “As a young child at age 3 I was diagnosed with Retina Blastoma secondary to glaucoma which resulted in me having to have my right eye enucleated,” Fisher said. One thing she feels this industry gave her was the chance to share her experiences with others who might be going through similar struggles.

Her first job in the field came 27 years ago when she began working with Tura Eyewear. She later left Tura and worked at Marchon then Essilor Laboratories of America, before returning to Tura as a sales manager 11 years ago. Now, Fisher works as their regional sales manager for the Mid-Atlantic region and part of the Northeast, and she oversees a team of 15 sales representatives.

Fisher believes in the importance of working together and using each person’s strengths to benefit the group as a whole. She finds inspiration in the way that her team grows and in seeing the way their relationships with their customers grow. She noted that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, working together remained integral. They continued talking on the phone more and using Zoom calls to continue to train and solve problems together.

SHE SAYS… “One of my biggest strengths is building relationships and training. I think it is important to always keep current with training and find ways to partner with your customers. Training the customer takes you from just selling frames to being a consultant and taking ownership in seeing their practice grow.”

Lauren Harmon

Senior Director Professional Marketing, Eye Care, Luxottica

New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a leader who shows great compassion for others. Lauren is passionate about the work she and her team does and pushes them to see their own potential and provides the path to obtain it. She sets professional goals for herself and her team to better themselves and the end result for the businesses taking care of our doctors, patients, and customers.”

Lauren Harmon found her place in the health care industry early in her career. One of her early roles including consumer marketing and advertising for Fortune 500 CPG and health care start-up companies.

Today, she is responsible for leading a team that’s focused on talent acquisition and engagement of doctors of optometry across 2,000 retail optical locations including LensCrafters, LensCrafters at Macy’s, Target Optical, and Pearle Vision.

Harmon said the optical industry is exciting because there are so many big opportunities to solve problems like driving consumer awareness of the importance of an annual eye exam with an eye doctor as well as driving patient access to care for the underserved. She believes there is nothing like seeing the face of someone who can see well for the first time.

Harmon believes working for Luxottica has offered her many opportunities including having a part in making an impact against these efforts. She feels she has been blessed to work for and with so many incredibly talented, generous, and dynamic people who have believed in her and been instrumental in her personal and professional growth. As her time with the company has grown, so has her passion for eyecare. “I try to bring a little piece of each of them to my work every day. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. I’m grateful for my relationships.”

She says she is proud of the team she works with and hopes that both she and they have made a difference in people’s lives.

SHE SAYS… “Lead with what brings you passion and be open to how that passion can manifest itself in your work. Say yes to opportunities that challenge you outside of your core function—on the other side of it is where true growth lies. Be yourself and be good to those around you.”

Deidre T. Huff

Clinical Applications Specialist

Luneau Technology
Bensenville, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She inspires ECPs and practice owners to rethink what’s possible and maximize emerging technologies to elevate the patients’ eyecare experience.”

Deidre Huff began in optometry at age 15—working for an optometrist in Texas—and since then, she’s touched nearly every aspect of eyecare there is. Aside from becoming a Certified Ophthalmic Technician in 1993, she’s also worked in academia, private practice, genetic research and eye banking. She taught in the Duke Ophthalmic Technician program, serving as both a technician and clinic supervisor.

Since 2011, Huff has served the industry side, in both capital equipment and surgery. She left surgery to work with Luneau Technology, whose technology platform uses wavefront to analyze the eye and lenses in new ways.

“It challenges me in ways that are unique and very complementary to my previous experience,” she said. “Supporting wavefront technology has been a career highlight thus far.”

Huff works closely with ECPs to ensure their practices, technicians and staff have the most success when implementing advanced and integrated refraction and screening technologies. She’s dedicated to using her clinical understanding in anterior segment, cataract, retina, glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology to ensure ECPs understand the clinical benefits of innovative technologies, and how to best implement them for excellent patient outcomes and practice growth.

“I’m inspired by helping practices succeed, and knowing that I’m having an impact on the quality of care patients receive. It has always been about the patients for me.”

SHE SAYS… “By being willing to work hard, think outside the box, face brutal travel schedules and always challenge the limitations of my fears, I’ve helped bring to market devices that affect patient outcomes and helped practices adopt technology that can really made a difference in patients’ lives.”

Jill Johnson

Vice President, Human Resources

Norwalk, Connecticut

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Jill’s influence on IDOC, our culture, and our membership have been astounding during her tenure. Her signature achievement to date was leading the IDOC efforts through the darkest moments of the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, the service provided to members, and all independent optometry, was exemplary and noted industry wide.”

Jill Johnson takes her role as a leader to heart. During the recent pandemic, she was called upon on numerous occasions to guide her team through uncertain and difficult times. She helped her team adapt to remote working while maintaining the highest level of service. She implemented key areas of focus for her team that not only reflected their professional lives but their personal ones too, ensuring wellness initiatives for physical and mental well-being were implemented.

As a result, her team now continues to integrate these practices as life returns to normal.

“The experience forced us to think differently in how we allocate resources, how to harness the power of collective knowledge to innovate, and how to create and implement solutions for connecting and collaborating in a virtual environment.”

Though she is new to the industry, joining in 2019, she quickly leveraged her more than 20 years of experience in HR roles within various industries to help enhance productivity and business growth at IDOC. Though she did not take a direct path to the optical industry, she believes her past experiences serve to help her find new ways to make the industry better.

SHE SAYS… “Throw away the idea that a career path is only linear. Career paths are dynamic and can move in many different directions. Regardless of the career path, build and adhere to a set of leadership principles. My own set of leadership principles keeps me grounded in how I show up as a leader.”

Tina Lahti

Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Torrance, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Tina is recognized around the world as an authority on optics and provides non-biased and detailed information that the entire industry benefits from every day.”

Now in the third decade of her optical career, Tina Lahti has become known throughout the industry for her deep knowledge of optics and her considerable skill as a trainer and educator. She began working in her mid-teens at Vision World in Minnesota, where she received in-depth classroom training.

She moved into management with LensCrafters, and, after graduating with a degree in industrial and organizational psychology, went to work for Vision Ease as a training and education consultant, sales rep, and eventually national account manager. Lahti came to IOT in 2016 as director of national accounts. Since 2018 she has led the commercial team, developing technical articles, training programs and webinars for eyecare professionals.

“I work on everything from the big picture of helping to develop corporate strategy to the tiny detail of writing captions for social media posts,” she explained. “The most rewarding part of my job, however, is working with people. I get to share in the success of so many people working to achieve their goals. I love to see individuals and teams grow, develop, and get better.”

Lahti is a past president of the Minnesota Opticians Association, a contributing editor to 20/20 Magazine’s Pro to Pro section, an active member of The Vision Council and an ABO-approved general and technical speaker..

SHE SAYS… “I’ve always been amazed by how much of a community the U.S. optical industry is. To many of us who have been in optical for a long time, industry functions feel almost like family reunions. The way people in our business value, support, and take care of one other is inspiring.”

Melanie Mills

Senior Director, Decision Sciences

Essilor of America
Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She acts as a compass for our organization by fueling decision-making with data. The insights that come from Melanie’s team profoundly influence Essilor’s decisions, and as a market leader, these insights have a direct impact on shaping the industry as a whole.”

With more than 25 years of experience in research and analytics, Melanie Mills understands the power of actionable insights and data-driven decisions. For the past 13 years, she has applied those skills to the optical industry, where she currently heads up Essilor of America’s decision sciences department.

Her job entails designing and executing strategic market analyses and research projects, including segmentation, path to purchase, advertising and launching new products. This work results in actionable insights to help guide major business decisions and overall company growth.

“I’m inspired by my profession because we can truly make an impact by being the voice of customers and helping companies understand their key wants and needs,” she said. “I’m inspired by the work that my team does at Essilor because of the company’s mission and how the insights we provide help Essilor improve lives by improving sight.”

Her team analyzes sales data by channel, product type, materials, correction, and demographics to inform Essilor’s strategies and validate its tactics. Her primary research includes awareness of the company’s brands, attitudes of customers, and the company’s reputation to develop critical insights to ensure that Essilor is meeting and exceeding the needs of customers.

SHE SAYS… “In the optical industry, I believe that you need to listen—to the ECPs, to consumers/patients and to people who have been in the industry; because I believe to truly succeed in this industry you have to understand it.”

Cindy Moen

Chief People Officer

Shopko Optical
Green Bay, Wisconsin

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As chief people officer, Cindy Moen is focused on empowering our employees to achieve our mission, and together with them, creating a culture that attracts and inspires the most passionate, hard-working talent. Cindy has worked across the organization to transform our culture into a more diverse, inclusive environment where everyone can learn and thrive.”

Cindy Moen has worked with the Shopko Optical team for almost 15 years, while exclusively serving optical for the last two years. “At Shopko, I have had the opportunity to grow my career within the human resources team, while also leading executive development programs in merchandising and field leadership,” she said.

Prior to HR, Moen worked in medical and retail, supporting patient accounts, training and system rollouts. She’s a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and previously held leadership roles with youth sports organizations.

“It is interesting for me to reflect on how all these unique experiences have influenced me and have guided the way I seek to influence those who I am fortunate to serve today,” she said

Shopko Optical was founded in 2019 after operating for 40 years within Shopko Stores. Over the past two years, it has worked to build on that 40-year foundation of optical care, while establishing itself as a new company. “Talk about a fun job,” she said. Moen said she believes that “women tend to be their own worst critics, especially when they find themselves thinking they need to be something they’re not in order to achieve success. “My advice would be to be your awesome self,” she added.

SHE SAYS… “For me, the pandemic offered an opportunity to really get to understand and connect with our workforce in a way I never would have had otherwise. Everyone had a different twist and was affected by circumstances at and outside of their work at Shopko Optical. [We] worked tirelessly to handle each situation with kindness and to provide the most helpful information.”

Sandra Mohr, MA, MS, EdD

Dean of Academic Resources and Administration

New England College of Optometry
Boston, Massachusetts

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “In her role as Dean of Academic Resources and Administration, Sandra sets up one-on-one exit interviews with graduating optometry students to guide them on their next journey. It is important that these students have a great mentor that is involved and is well connected in the optical community. She is also very involved with The Optical Women’s association as cohost of the OWA Talks podcast, one-minute inspiration writer, and as a committee member of Connection and Enrichment.”

Sandra Mohr has worked in higher education for 20+ years and has called the New England College of Optometry (NECO) home for the last five years. While at NECO, she created the Center for Academic and Professional Achievement that supports students from acceptance at the College through retirement.

She also developed the Center for Educational Effectiveness, which is designed to support effective teaching and learning at NECO through continuous, rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of instructional programs. The Center places student learning at the center of its teaching, evaluation, and improvement efforts. As such, it promotes educational practices that value diversity and intentionally foster inclusive learning environments.

She said, “I am inspired at how the work we all do in the profession changes the way that people see the world. Each of us, no matter what role we play within the industry, impacts the vision and sight of others across the world. It makes the work impactful and helps keep us moving forward during challenging times.

“I have the privilege of working with students during their career preparation. Watching students transform into Doctors of Optometry is very inspirational.”

SHE SAYS… “My advice to women in optical is to get involved with others in the profession. There are many organizations to build your support network and to learn. I encourage women to find ways to give back to the profession—not only will it help you expand your reach, it will positively impact you in new ways.”