Arlene Melanie Caputo
TECHNICAL INFORMATION SPECIALIST
Essilor of America
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Arlene’s optical knowledge is incredible and she is always willing to coach, educate and lift up those around her.”
Arlene Caputo is the go-to person within Essilor of America when it comes to technical assistance related to the company’s lens products and customer support services. As technical information specialist, she is responsible for creating and distributing lens technical data and processing procedures to the company’s broad network of customers including independent labs and ECPs. But her role extends beyond being gatekeeper of technical data. She also functions as the “voice of the customer” within the company, always seeking the best vision solutions for large and small customers.
Caputo plays an important role in supporting new product development, creating the required technical literature and specification sheets for each introduction. Her expertise helps to identify potential issues regarding technical aspects of products to sidestep customer problems. She also reviews marketing and sales communications for technical accuracy and troubleshoots any technical difficulties.
Her depth of technical knowledge has been acquired over a career spanning 27 years at Essilor, with jobs in data processing, distribution, customer service and telesales. Underlying her success, she said, is the support she has received over the years from her family and from her managers at Essilor.
SHE SAYS… “My advice to women seeking to advance in optical is simple: Treat your job as if it is your own business, and take pride in everything that you do. Never be afraid to reach out to anyone for assistance to support your customers.”
Tamara Franklin, CPOT
DIRECTOR, VISION SOURCE LEARNING
& STAFF DEVELOPMENT
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She develops, maintains and delivers education opportunities to the doctors and staff at more than 3,300 Vision Source locations.”
As director of learning and staff development, Tamara Franklin reaches out to Vision Source practices on a daily basis, providing mentorship and direction on staff training programs designed for members located across the country. She is responsible for Vision Source’s comprehensive online learning platform that includes over 100 training modules, and she continues to grow the program with material designed to address the needs of today’s progressive independent practices. She also lectures doctors and their staff on topics ranging from staff development to office procedures.
Franklin was first introduced to the optical business in high school, working part-time for a local optometrist. While in college, she obtained her Optometric Assistant registration and five years later was certified as a Paraoptometric Optometric Technician (CPOT). She worked for independent optometric practices for over 26 years before joining Vision Source full time in 2012, after leading a regional network of Vision Source practices.
Franklin has helped to develop state and national paraoptometric education programs and has worked to provide pathways for career growth in the field. She is past chair of the AOA Commission on Paraoptometric Certification and is currently on the AOA-CPC’s test development committee, helping to develop certification testing guidelines. Her dedication and contributions to her field have been recognized by awards including the AOA Distinguished Service Award.
SHE SAYS… “My advice to women pursuing optical careers is to find mentors early on and to never stop learning.
DIVISIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, COMMERCIAL MARKETS EAST
VSP Optics Group
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Glenna is a respected, experienced leader in our industry. Members from across all lines of VSP Global businesses look to Glenna for guidance, support, mentoring and leadership.”
With over 34 years of experience in the optical business, Glenna Glenn has blazed trails in her career as both a business owner and sales professional. In her current role as vice president of VSP Optics Group’s Commercial Markets East, she collaborates with all VSP lines of business to educate doctors on the value of the VSP Premier Program. She creates strategic agreements and programs to support the company’s Doctor Alliance Groups and key accounts. She leads and supports four regional vice presidents and their teams to achieve their goals, and also recruits, trains and develops sales personnel for her division.
Glenn started her career as an optician and launched with partners a business called Doctors Optical, expanding the successful venture to four more locations in Miami, Florida. She maintains her optician license and is a member of the Professional Opticians of Florida as well as the Optical Women’s Association. Glenn joined VSP nine years ago. She is grateful, she said, to the many mentors who have supported her career, including the senior leadership at VSP Optics Group and leadership at VSP’s other lines of business.
Glenn’s advice to women developing a career in optical is: “Pursue employment with a company with foresight. Look for a strong mentor and focus, work hard, take risks and go above and beyond. Live your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
SHE SAYS… “I do my best to inspire my teams with passion and conviction, focusing on helping millions of people to see better and achieve their full potential.”
Velvet Richardson Hawkins
SENIOR RETAIL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE
Carl Zeiss Vision
San Diego, California
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Over her 20+ year career, Velvet has mentored several people, to become the best version of themselves. She is extremely smart, thinks well on her feet and has a beautiful soul, which comes through in her smile and actions daily. Her customers appreciate this attitude when trying to learn about new products. However, she is tough taskmaster, expecting 100% from herself and those around her.”
Velvet Hawkins became fascinated with optics at the age of 14 as a result of attending a career fair. She said, “From that moment on, eyes and helping people became both my passion and my career. Upon completion of my schooling, my first job and the start to my career in optics was as a vision therapist and optical supervisor.”
Early on, Hawkins realized that it was easy for her to motivate and inspire others because she enjoyed it. “I also discovered my love of learning and training never knowing that one day my career path would connect all three. It was not until 21 years ago, when I joined Carl Zeiss Vision, that I was able to connect these three loves into the next phase of my career.”
At Carl Zeiss Vision, she is responsible for a diverse range of geographic territories and has held various positions with the company, such as business development representative, key account manager, regional manager and regional business representative. “I enjoy my job because it continues to allow me to have success as I learn, take new challenges, teach others, and help people succeed.”
SHE SAYS… “Having goals and passions that leads to success is great but it’s amazing when you are motivating, blessing and inspiring others along the way. It makes it all worthwhile, fun, memorable, and most of all, it creates lasting relationships.”
Barbara Horn, OD
PRESIDENT-ELECT, AMERICAN OPTOMETRIC
Diplomate, American Board of Optometry
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Horn’s strength in advocacy efforts as well as her passion for student and new graduate involvement has been undoubtedly evident for 19 consecutive years in her AOA volunteer service. In 2015, she was appointed chair of the Student Transition Project Team that gave birth to the incredibly successful and ongoing AOA+ program.”
June was a busy, and rewarding, month for Barbara Horn, OD. She was elected as president-elect of the American Optometric Association on June 23 and will ascend to the presidency of the association in June 2019 at Optometry’s Meeting in St. Louis. What this means, she said, is that six months later in January “we will ‘ring in’ the epic year of 2020 with a female OD as the president of AOA.”
Horn was elected to AOA’s board of trustees in 2011 and served five years as a trustee. She was elected secretary-treasurer in 2016 and vice president in 2017. Over the past two years, she has served as a member of AOA’s executive committee and the 401K committee. She previously served as a member, and chair, of the investment, finance and the constitution and bylaws committees. And over the past seven years, she has served as liaison to 36 state affiliates, and 11 schools of optometry, 10 centers, sections or groups within AOA or other organizations within optometry.
“In my first week of optometry school, our practice management educator asked us to present on a topic, any topic of our choosing,” she said. “I chose ‘the alphabet soup of optometry:’ AOA, AOSA, AAO, ASCO, ARBO among many others. I realized that while all within the alphabet soup are critical to the functioning of optometry, one safeguards, advances and continues to represent and protect us all. Because of that realization, in week one of optometry school, I was forever devoted to our AOA.”
SHE SAYS… “Find the area of practice or volunteerism that you are most passionate about and give back to the profession. The rewards and knowledge gained in the experience and the relationship developed give you more than you put in.”
VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS
Port Chester, New York
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her unwavering dedication to the success of Zyloware is worn on her sleeve, and her core characteristics of compassion and empathy allow everyone who works with her to feel a part of the prosperity she brings to herself and to the company.”
Janna Neal “unexpectedly discovered” the optical industry while looking for a job during college and came across a newspaper ad for a position with Zyloware. She started as a customer service representative, and after receiving her degree, she was offered the opportunity to oversee business operations and human resources.
Nearly 16 years later, Neal is still with the Zyloware family as vice president of operations. “The beauty of my position is the daily connection I have with various departments helping to ensure they are operating smoothly while implementing company policies,” Neal said. “The Shyer family, who are the proprietors of Zyloware, are pioneers in the optical industry. This was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their wealth of knowledge.”
Neal, who is also a part of the Optical Women’s Association, The Vision Council and its subsidiary, Emerging Optical Leaders, has a leadership philosophy of not thinking of herself as having a staff but as having a team. “You’re only as strong as your team. I want my team members to feel comfortable with learning from the mistakes they make. Some of our best successes have been from failed attempts.”
SHE SAYS… “One of my biggest accomplishments is the ability to recognize a team member’s underlying talent and encourage them to pursue it.”
CORPORATE TRAINER – GROWTH AND INTEGRATION GROUP
St. Louis, Missouri
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Becky launched Eye-Care Partners Academy, a technology training platform for the organization, allowing a consistent onboarding process, expanded role opportunities and consistent training.”
Becky Patterson began her career at Clarkson Eyecare, now part of the EyeCare Partners family. A formative influence was Clarkson’s founder, Dr. Lawrence Jehling, who she said “taught me how to take care of our patients. He showed us the meaning of excellence in optical.” After joining EyeCare Partners as a corporate trainer, she moved on to the newly formed Growth and Integration Group, created to facilitate the growth of the organization from 85 locations to over 245 today.
The EyeCare Partners Academy has facilitated this growth by making essential training available online. So far this year, 2,000 employees have used the platform to complete over 25,000 classes. She also maintains a busy schedule of hands-on training, having assisted in over 100 optometric office software integration projects in the past three years.
Her proudest achievement, though, reaches to the core mission of eyecare. “My highest honor during my career has been to lead five teams to third-world countries where we have seen more than 1,000 people in vision clinics and given away thousands of prescription glasses, over-the-counter readers and sunglasses.”
SHE SAYS… “Be patient—this is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a long time to learn and when you figure it out it could change. Be committed to your own personal integrity. Learn to be flexible and you won’t ever break.”
VISION CARE TECHNOLOGY
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She created and manages the Licensed Optician Vision Care Technology program at Goodwin College. She is the leader and mentor of our future rising stars.”
Maryann Santos lives, breathes and even blogs optical education. Education has been a focus of her life since she entered the optical field as an apprentice optician out of high school. Over the years, while working as a dispensing optician, she earned associate, bachelor and master degrees in business and education as well as her ABO, ABO Masters and NCLE certifications. Santos was managing her own optical dispensary training business when the opportunity to establish an opticianry program at Goodwin College presented itself in 2013.
“Developing the Vision Care Technology (VCT) program at Goodwin was by far my most challenging professional accomplishment to date,” said Santos, whose 30+ years in the field provided a solid foundation for the job. Today, she teaches at the school and continually updates the curriculum to reflect industry trends. She also writes monthly Pro-to-Pro opticianry articles for 20/20 Magazine and pens a blog called “WhatsAnOptician.com.”
Looking back on her successes, Santos expressed gratitude to her many association and industry mentors, including the VCT program’s advisory board and Rebecca Soto, her faculty partner in running Goodwin’s VCT program.
SHE SAYS… “My management philosophy is to encourage people to work within their gifts and talents. I will do what I can to guide and support them to be their best. it is very important that people enjoy their day at work. I encourage balance and laughter.”
REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR, WEST COAST
New York, New York
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She lends her strategic thinking and love of teamwork to her management approach, ensuring all members of her team have not only the tools they need to succeed, but feel inspired and excited and part of something important.”
Amy Stachler is responsible for wholesale sales for Luxottica’s brand portfolio on the West Coast, leading a team of over 70 people. The breadth of Luxottica’s portfolio and the size of the territory she manages means that her team members are diverse in their roles and in their geographical locations. She sees her own role as more than delivering strong sales numbers—she strives to foster connectivity among her team members, who often work on their own but aspire to a sense of belonging and family.
Stachler began her Luxottica career as an account manager in the department store channel, where she implemented a sell-through program to increase sales through consumer marketing. A watershed moment occurred in 2008, when she received ICF certification in leadership coaching, which she describes as, “A life-changing experience that I bring to work with me every day.” Her passion for coaching is reflected not just in developing her team, but in providing continuing education to doctor alliances and other groups.”
SHE SAYS… “I believe people need purpose and the recognition that they have choice and bear accountability for those choices. Each person holds the key to this equation, and as a leader it is my purpose to help people unlock their personal door.”
DIRECTOR OF SALES
Vernon Hills, Illinois
CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dawn is always looking for a way to help. She is always willing to give advice and stick up for you.”
Throughout her career, Dawn Ward believes she has been fortunate to experience different types of managers who have all helped to shape her leadership style. “My goal is to empower and inspire the people I work with,” she said. The leaders she seeks to emulate the most were the ones who led by instilling their confidence in her. “They were the type of leaders who made you feel like you could take on any challenge that was set before you, and because of that, you didn’t want to let them down,” she said.
Ward, also a member of the Optical Women’s Association, got her start in optical 13 years ago and has worked her way up from a sales representative to director of sales. She is currently responsible for helping to head a sales team of 70 reps and leading a team of five regional managers for Europa Eyewear.
SHE SAYS… “Work hard, take chances and have fun in your journey. Seek out mentors, network, and don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This is an incredible industry with no limits or glass ceilings.”