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Rising Stars

By Staff
Monday, July 9, 2018 12:28 AM


Carrie D. Alfieri, OD

FOUNDER AND CEO
Pinnacle Eye Associates, P.A.
McKinney, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Alfieri believes in constant innovation, whether implementing new technology or streamlining the practice’s approach to service and care.”

Carrie Alfieri, OD, is the founder and CEO of Pinnacle Eye Associates, but the title she prefers to use is that of visionary. “In addition to seeing patients, I create the vision for the direction of the practice and implement strategies for achieving that vision,” Dr. Alfieri explained. She inspires her staff to work toward achieving Pinnacle’s mission: to exceed patients’ expectations, inspire confidence through education and foster excellence in vision care services and products. Key to this mission is keeping her practice strongly positioned at the technological forefront of eyecare.

As Pinnacle’s sole optometrist, Dr. Alfieri provides a range of eye health services for patients of all ages. She has specialized training in neuro optometry, pediatrics, ocular disease and low vision, and she is a certified glaucoma specialist and orthokeratologist. She is recognized statewide as an innovator in contact lenses and practice management, and has won numerous professional honors including CooperVision’s 2018 Best Practices award. Dr. Alfieri was also voted “Best Optometrist of McKinney” 11 times.

Dr. Alfieri’s personal leadership style is to create a culture that inspires people to become the best version of themselves. She encourages her staff to constantly improve their knowledge and empower themselves through education.

SHE SAYS… “My advice to those seeking advancement in the field is to embrace the power of positivity, even during challenges, and to celebrate small successes. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help—many people will help if you simply just ask.”


Kara M. Cavuoto, MD

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL OPHTHALMOLOGY
Director, Medical Student Education in Ophthalmology
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Kara Cavuoto’s commitment and dedication to mentoring in medical student education makes her a vital part of the academic institution of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Ophthalmology is now one of the most-often requested sub-specialty electives at the University.”


Dr. Kara Cavuoto is an associate professor of clinical ophthalmology and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In this role, she evaluates and treats patients with pediatric eye disorders, including amblyopia and strabismus, as well as adults with strabismus. She also is the director of Medical Student Education in Ophthalmology at the University of Miami and coordinates and oversees all ophthalmology clerkships and pre-clinical graduate coursework in ophthalmology for nearly 500 medical students.

Dr. Cavuoto attended college and medical school at the University of Miami as part of the honors program in medicine, which combined a BS-MD degree program. She completed an internship in internal medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital, followed by an ophthalmology residency and a pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. She is board certified in ophthalmology and practices in the Miami and Palm Beach Gardens offices of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Among her recent awards are the 2017 Michael R. Redmond MD Outstanding Young Ophthalmologist Leadership Award, from the Florida Society of Ophthalmology; the Women in Academic Medicine’s Excellence in Mentorship Award (2017) and the American Medical Women’s Association’s Exceptional Mentor Award (2017).

SHE SAYS… “My personal philosophy is inspired by the great sports coach Vince Lombardi, who said, ‘Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs. Watch your beliefs, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.’”


Cathy Gosnell

LAB MANAGER
Bard Optical
Peoria, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Cathy led the execution of moving from a traditional to free-form lab and the start-up of wholesale operations. She hires and develops a loyal, talented team, holding everyone to the same high standard of quality she delivers daily.”

Cathy Gosnell manages the full surfacing lab for Bard Optical and serves as the key salesperson for the wholesale operation. She said, “Since I took the position, we have gone from completing 700 jobs per week to over 2,500.” She oversees all aspects of the lab operation from hiring, team building, product flow, quality assurance and timely delivery of jobs, paying “particular attention to operational efficiencies and cost containment.”

Gosnell started in the optical industry in 1989 as a pre-test technician. After a year she received cross-training in the lab and “has loved being in a lab ever since.” After working in a couple of private labs, she came to Bard Optical in 2002.

“My mentor has been Diana Hall, our president at Bard Optical. Diana is a trailblazer in this industry. She took me under her wing and gave me all of the tools I needed to succeed. As life threw some challenges at me I always had her in my corner as my personal cheerleader. Along the way, she taught me how to get the best out of my staff by supporting them as she supported me. She is my role model.”

SHE SAYS… “I would encourage more women to have careers in the lab. Each day I am able to help hundreds of our patients see better and that is a really rewarding career. At the end of the day, you feel a real sense of accomplishment.”


Whitney Hauser, OD

DRY EYE COACH
Memphis, Tennessee

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her work has changed the lives of countless individuals, whether it be patients or interns she shapes during their training.”

Dr. Whitney Hauser is the founder and CEO of Dry Eye Coach. In 2016, she created dryeyecoach.com, an ocular surface disease education hub that offers peer-to-peer education and practice management direction from experts in the field. Dr. Hauser develops creative content including articles, videos and podcasts in collaboration with key opinion leaders.

A graduate of Southern College of Optometry, where she is an associate professor, she has lectured domestically and internationally on the effective management and treatment of ocular surface patients. Dr. Hauser also leads Signal Ophthalmic Consulting, which provides practices direction in premium eyecare services. She currently works at TearWell Advanced Dry Eye Treatment Center in Memphis.

Asked why she chose to specialize in dry eye treatment, Dr. Hauser explained, “Many dry eye patients don’t have case histories, but they do have stories about how their condition is affecting them, especially if it’s moderate to severe. I take time to listen to their stories, and then give them treatment options. It feels like you’re making an impact on the individual, which is rewarding.”

Dr. Hauser said her leadership philosophy is best summarized by Steve Jobs: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. I enjoy creating a constantly evolving roadmap for my business, but collaboration is what moves the needle.”

SHE SAYS… “Find your passion, create a goal and execute. Seek mentorship and open your mind to the advice given, especially if you don’t like it. Honor your commitments. Work hard every day, because we’re all replaceable.”


Cara Kirman

MARKETING DIRECTOR
K Optical
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Cara is well-versed in today’s lens technologies, from manufacturing to market positioning and staff education. She has fantastic presentation skills and is very passionate about the industry. She works with practices to develop their staff in best practices and dispensing solutions to help them grow.”

Cara Kirman’s roots in the optical business run deep: her grandfather was an optometrist, and her father is the owner and president of K Optical. She started her optical career by working in the lab as a summer job while in college. (“Actually, I started by cleaning old cylinder machines and generators in the garage outside of the lab before my dad brought me on as an employee in the lab itself,” she said). What started as a summer job became much more. “I unexpectedly fell in love with the lab and changed my major at Penn State (to Health Care Policy and Administration) to align with my new goals.”

As marketing director of the lab, she manages the website, creates marketing materials, acquires new accounts, and educates customers about new products and technologies. But she never strays far from her roots, jumping in to surface and edge lenses as needed. She also finds time to work with the Optical Synergies lab group, which she loves because, “I am most passionate about ensuring the future of independent laboratories.”

SHE SAYS… “Every member of the staff at K Optical has been my mentor. Learning from so many amazing and experienced people allows me, as a young woman, to fearlessly navigate the male-dominated lab industry.”


Laura Lewis

DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES
MyEyeDr.
Raleigh, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Laura Lewis joined MyEyeDr. through the integration of Eye Care Associates in 2014. She oversees the human resources department and is responsible for all HR items, including recruitment, associate relations and HR systems.”

Laura Lewis had worked with Eye Care Associates as the leader of its human resources department for less than a year when the company became part of MyEyeDr., but she wasn’t fazed by any uncertainty resulting from the transaction. “I saw this as a great opportunity to learn more about the expanding optical industry, and also more about mergers and acquisitions as a discipline,” she said.

Today, Lewis oversees HR functions for talent acquisition and retention, business operations, compliance, contracting and human resources information systems. “My proudest moments with MyEyeDr. have been playing a role in the career growth opportunities and success stories of those employees who joined our family of practices over the years,” she said. “It puts a smile on my face to see careers take flight within our organization.”

Lewis said she finds herself motivated every day to learn more, do more and be more involved in the ever-changing optical landscape. She’s also an active member of the Optical Women’s Association and its mentoring committee. Most recently, she accepted an opportunity to chair the sponsorship ambassador sub-committee.

During her career, Lewis said she has had several mentors who helped her develop as a professional. She noted that the lessons she learned from each of them “have been vastly different, and I try hard to incorporate learnings from each of them into my daily personal and professional life.”

SHE SAYS… “Push yourself to do something outside your comfort zone every day. Learning and growth happen outside your comfort zone.”


Lauren Makofske


BRAND DIRECTOR
Marchon Eyewear
San Clemente, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “A year ago, Lauren moved to Southern California to co-lead Dragon Alliance. Within a short amount of time, she has built a world class creative, digital and brand management organization there.”


For Lauren Makofske, her personal leadership style of “do no harm, but stand up for yourself” is something that she believes strongly in and aims to instill in her team every day. She “fell into optical by chance” shortly after her college graduation and has spent the majority of her career with Marchon.

One of her major accomplishments was developing the award-winning “Do Not Try This At Home” video campaign for Flexon Eyewear. Makofske recently made the move from East Coast to West Coast to co-lead Dragon Alliance, which Marchon acquired in 2012. “This has been my biggest and most rewarding challenge to date—not only moving across the country, but learning the action sports industry.”

While she’s learned so much about optical, her time working in restaurants has taught her some of life’s greatest lessons. “The first being you can’t do it all yourself, and the second is how to make others feel welcome. I have come a long way since then, but I still draw on those values a lot,” she said.

SHE SAYS… “The biggest and most beneficial career moves I have ever made scared me at first, but I learned how to set fear and doubt aside and pursue those opportunities anyway. Change is scary but it’s also the way forward. We’re more resilient than we may give ourselves credit for.”


Roxanna T. Potter, OD, FAAO


OWNER
Personal Eyecare
Sylvania, Ohio

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Under Dr. Potter’s leadership, her practice excels at innovation and individualized attention designed to provide superior vision care to patients of all ages.”

As the owner of Personal Eyecare and its sole practitioner, Roxanna Potter, OD, leads a staff of 10 employees who are committed to providing excellent eye health care to patients of all ages in a family-friendly environment. Her high volume practice, a Vision Source member, provides primary and secondary optometric care utilizing the latest technologies and innovations in the optical field. Dr. Potter is a strong believer in the importance of continuously investing in advanced technology and innovative marketing efforts to keep her practice ahead of the curve.

Among the programs offered at Personal Eyecare are dry eye clinics, a myopia control program and a macular degeneration prevention protocol for older patients. Personal Eyecare also offers specialty contact lens services, earning recognition as one of CooperVision’s 2018 Best Practices.

Dr. Potter is active in numerous professional associations including the American Academy of Optometry, the American Board of Optometry and the American Optometric Association on a national, state and local level. She is a member of the AOA’s Cornea & Contact Lens section and sits on the Gas Permeable Lens Institute Advisory Board.

SHE SAYS… “I have been an early adopter of many forward-thinking programs for my practice.”


Kristen Reynolds

MANAGER, PHILANTHROPIC PROGRAMS
National Vision
Duluth, Georgia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Kristen has a great ability to solve issues, bring resources together, find ways to improve processes and exceed goals.”

Kristen Reynolds guides and oversees National Vision Inc.’s (NVI) philanthropic effort to create and grow sustainable low-cost eyewear and optical services models, both nationally and internationally. This includes managing the philanthropic program partnerships and identifying new opportunities to expand NVI’s philanthropic outreach.

In addition, Reynolds develops and manages philanthropic and fund-raising programs and data analytics for leadership and shareholder reporting. She manages the national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and provides program management of the Vision Screening Program. She also runs the annual P3 Conference (Partnership, Progress, Philanthropy), which connects senior management and suppliers in a valuable networking environment in tandem with the largest fundraiser for NVI’s sponsored charitable foundation, 20/20 Quest.

Among her recent accomplishments, Reynolds oversaw the effort to increase sponsorship revenue for the P3 Conference by almost 30 percent. She also created NVIGivesBack, a program that allows NVI’s America’s Best stores to help those in need in their communities. Prior to joining NVI, Reynolds worked for The Vision Council on its show team for Vision Expo, where she managed the marketing strategy and implementation for Expo East and West and special programs, such as the student program and Eye2 Zone. Reynolds has been a member of the Optical Women’s Association since 2011 and a member of The Vision Council’s Emerging Optical Leaders committee since 2017.

SHE SAYS… “Find out what motivates someone, and try to lead with that in mind. Have the tough conversations because you have to and always be respectful because you want to. Get business accomplished and have fun while doing so.”


Angela Tsai, OD

OWNER & CEO

Premier Eyecare, Angela Tsai OD & Associates, P.C.
Fredericksburg, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She leads by example and helps her staff to stay ahead of the curve in the constantly changing field of optometry.”

As the CEO of Premier Eyecare, Angela Tsai, OD, essentially has two jobs, one as a busy optometric doctor and the other as a successful business owner running a large independent optometric practice. With a staff of 25 employees including five doctors, Premier Eyecare provides primary care and specialized vision health services including visual therapy for traumatic brain injury and for special needs patients with autism and Down syndrome. The practice, a Vision Source member, also treats ocular diseases and provides specialty contact lenses.

Since joining Premier Eyecare as a part owner in 2009, Dr. Tsai helped grow the practice by $2 million annually. In 2014, she became the sole owner. She said, “Unlike most medical professions, to be truly successful in optometry we have to excel at both medical care and the retail business. With such a diverse range of skills required, it’s important to build the right team.” Collaboration and continuous learning, she said, are key elements of her leadership style designed to help her staff deliver top quality care.

To succeed in optometry, Dr. Tsai’s advice is to stay focused on providing patients with the best care possible while educating them on the importance of eye health.

SHE SAYS… “My advice to women seeking advancement in the field is to find something that makes you unique, and develop a specialty that makes you stand out from the crowd. Never give up on your dream. Focus on where you want to be and find a way there.”


Autianna Wilson

LEAD OPTICIAN AND BUYER
Dr. Leona Landers
San Francisco, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is unapologetically herself and rightfully known as the ‘Optical Goddess.’ She’s breaking boundaries and creating a place where ECPs around the world can communicate ideas.”

Autianna Wilson, dubbed “Optical Goddess” after garnering a reputation for having so many happy patients, is known for pushing the envelope. While she began in optical working in a LensCrafters lab, she found her calling on the sales floor. She’s made it her job to create a positive, personalized experience, bringing happiness and self-esteem one frame and lens selection at a time.

As a lead optician and buyer, Wilson’s role ranges from buying new inventory to keeping the staff current on the latest technology and social media branding. Some of her accomplishments include being featured in various optical publications, speaking at a Vision Expo East Pop-Up, major social media branding growth and the launch of her website, www.opticalgoddesslife.com in 2018.

When it comes to leading people, Wilson’s personal philosophy boils down to the idea that leadership is about action. “For me, it’s been about seeing an opportunity to make an impact but doing so in a way others will feel inspired to follow. My influence stems from being authentically me,” she said. Two people who have inspired her to be a better leader are her mother, Julie Wilson and friend, Dr. Arian Fartash. “Both of these woman have been by my side to hear my ideas and what I want to accomplish, and their honest opinions mean the world to me.”

SHE SAYS… “I want more people to feel comfortable and confident being themselves and having their own opinions, even if others may not agree.”
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