The Vision Council Launches Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force in Effort to Work Toward Building a More Diverse and Inclusive Community

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council is announcing today the launch of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force launch is part of the organization’s larger brand reimagination focused on community-building and industry growth and follows The Vision Council’s recent unveiling of a redesigned logo and new website—which VMAIL reported here—that is designed to better serve and accommodate the needs of members and the vision care community at large. Comprised of 13 vision care community leaders, the task force’s mission is to amplify and embrace everyone’s voice within all segments of the vision industry in order to push forward a more equitable agenda for the eyewear and eyecare industry and to build a more diverse and inclusive community.

“In 2019, The Vision Council conducted one of the first studies of diversity in leadership for the optical industry,” chief executive officer Ashley Mills said in the announcement. “The results were intended to benchmark the optical leadership landscape and illuminate the opportunities companies have to promote diversity, cultivate talent and improve their performance. We shared these results at The Vision Council’s annual Executive Summit in January 2020, during which we also announced a five-year plan reflecting a renewed focus on community-building and promoting industry growth.”

She added, “The survey was an important starting point in gathering information and data that would allow us to foster a more inclusive vision care community, while the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task force demonstrates our commitment to following through on this goal. The task force will be charged with developing dynamic programming and community initiatives and also identifying milestones and goals for the industry in order to provide tangible, actionable pathways for our members to access.”

Tarrence Lackran, director of programming and partnerships at The Vision Council, was named to lead the new program.

“I am honored to lead this effort to create more opportunities for courageous and impactful engagements within the communities we serve,” Lackran said. “Launching the task force now, on the heels of the debut of The Vision Council’s new brand identity, is a testament to the concrete steps The Vision Council is taking to advocate for all members of the vision care industry and promote industry growth in an inclusive way. Given the challenges the community is grappling with, fostering an industry culture that is welcoming and inclusive is of the utmost importance.”

Task force members include:

• Dr. Derrick Artis, managemenconsultant at Artis Consulting
• Lanard Atkins, opticianry program director at Georgia Piedmont Technical College
• Dr. Diana Canto-Sims, co-founder at Buena Vista Optical and Designer at La Vida Eyewear
• Gai Gherardi, co-founder at l.a.Eyeworks
• Rebecca Giefer, CEO, Americas at MODO Eyewear
• Dr. Millicent Knight, SVP, customer development group at Essilor
• Blake Kuwahara, president/CEO, Focus Group West and Creative Director, Blake Kuwahara Eyewear
• Dr. Howard Purcell, president and CEO at New England College of Optometry
• Dr. Danielle Richardson, independent optometrist at Optometrix
• Tiffany Smith, regional director of doctor recruitment at National Vision
• Phernell Walker, director of optometric relations at VSP Ventures
• Kyly Zak Rabin, co-founder at Zak
• Christine Yeh, executive editor at 20/20 Magazine

The launch of the task force builds upon The Vision Council’s recent efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Over the past few months, The Vision Council and Vision Expo dedicated its Virtual EYE2EYE Series “Coffee Talk” conversations to the theme of “Open Your Eyes” and discussed the current state of diversity and inclusion in the eyecare industry and what is needed to build a more equitable agenda in eyecare with leading industry voices.

Details on additional upcoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and programming will be announced in the coming months.