Kira Baldonado, MPH

Vice President of Public Health and Policy

Prevent Blindness
Chicago, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “In her 20 years at Prevent Blindness, Kira Baldonado has grown the organization’s impact by developing strategic partnerships, elevating the patient voice and advancing the knowledge base available for vision nationally.”

Currently serving as vice president of public health and policy, Kira Baldonado oversees the organization’s community programming and policy. She serves on a number of coalitions and committees to ensure that the broad public health and patient advocate perspective is considered in planning and implementation, including the National Eye Health Education Program Partnership, the Global Retina Patient Council, the Time in Range Coalition, Global Coalition on Aging, and coalitions related to retinal conditions (AMD/DR), thyroid eye disease, and NMOSD (neuromyelitis spectrum disorder).

“Vision health sits at the intersection of child development, learning, lifelong productivity, social engagement, and personal independence. I have the incredible opportunity to make sure that vision health is addressed to make sure there is success in all of these areas.”

As director of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH) at Prevent Blindness from 2011 to 2018, she was responsible for providing direction and leadership to early detection efforts and other essential public health interventions related to children’s vision and eye health systems in the U.S.

She coordinated the strategic and programmatic efforts of the NCCVEH, including the work of the National Expert Panel, the NCCVEH Advisory Committee, program initiatives in seven states, and Federal agency relationships.

SHE SAYS… “I have witnessed the devastating impact of uncontrolled diabetes on vision health, and the pain and regret of not paying attention to vision health when there was a chance of preventing blindness. In each case, there were social determinants of health, cultural beliefs and systems of care to be understood before the patient engaged with vision care professionals. We should all go beyond the clinic door to find out what drives health behaviors at the individual, community and systems level.”

Maureen Cavanagh

Vice President Key Accounts

Canton, Massachusetts

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Maureen is a highly regarded, well respected and proven senior sales executive who has manifested an impressive career spanning over 30 years working in progressively high level positions for industry-leading eyewear and vision care companies. Her remarkable career path encompasses her current and most recent roles with Safilo Group as well as spending 15 successful years at Essilor of America.”

Back in 1992, a recruiter representing Johnson and Johnson Vision Care approached Maureen Cavanagh about selling Acuvue contact lenses. At the time she was searching for a Fortune 50 company that had an exceptional training program to lay the foundation for a successful career. She took the job and over the next 30 years Cavanagh worked for Marine Optical, The Spectacle Lens Group at Johnson & Johnson, Essilor of America and Prive Revaux.

Cavanagh joined Safilo in 2022 as VP of key accounts and today is responsible for the growth revenue of this important sales channel where she manages a dedicated team of key account managers who service the needs of retail chain customers across the U.S. Cavanagh is also a member of the company’s extended global leadership team and serves on Safilo’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee in North America.

She said, “I love that I work for an industry that helps people see better and a company that has a strong Mission statement—’See the world at its best.’ Working for a purpose- driven company elates me and gives me a sense of pride and inspiration.”

Cavanagh is also proud of her time with the Optical Women’s Association. She said, “as president and board member of the OWA, we were able to accelerate our financial independence by increasing our sponsorships and memberships as well as building a rich pipeline of talented board members. This is what I am most proud of as I am now on the nominating committee and see the short list of amazing talent being poised to join the board and give back to their community.”

SHE SAYS… “Walk in the room with purpose, sit at the table with pride and always keep climbing the ladder to your personal and professional goals.”

Rebecca Giefer

CEO, Modo Americas

Modo Americas
New York, N.Y.

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Beyond being a leader in the highly competitive frame vendor category, Rebecca and her team have committed to an ecologically and sustainable future. Under Rebecca’s guidance, Modo has committed to and actually plants a tree for every frame they sell. I wish others would embrace sustainability the way Rebecca has.”

Rebecca Giefer’s career at Modo began 18 years ago, when she joined the company as a temp in customer service after her graduation from NYU. Over the years, she rose through the ranks at Modo, serving as customer service liaison, manager of the CS team, director of operations, VP operations in 2010 and chief operating officer. In 2020, she was appointed CEO of Modo Americas.

She served on The Vision Council’s Emerging Optical Leaders committee and board of directors, chaired the marketing committee and is currently part of the DEI task force. A strong work ethic and leadership skills are what have propelled her throughout her career.

At Modo, Giefer is responsible for strategic planning and development, as well as implementing the company’s overall growth plans and driving business in the Americas. She also oversees the management of all teams, as well as the financial performance of Modo Americas. What Giefer is inspired by, though, is the value of Modo’s work, especially in its relationships with charitable organizations.

She said, “I love the people I work with and am constantly reminded about the value of my work when I connect with the charitable organizations Modo supports. For our Modo brand, we fund a child receiving eyecare services for each frame we sell, so far we’ve sponsored the screening of over 1.3 million children, by the work of Seva Foundation.

“For our Eco brand, we fund the planting of trees (by donating to Trees for the Future), reaching 3.3 million trees planted and becoming carbon negative. We also collected over 40 tons of ocean waste material and used it to make frames. Doing this work alongside my amazing team inspires me.”

SHE SAYS… “Work hard, seek mentors, network, build authentic relationships, continuously learn, champion DE&I and stay true to yourself. I think an influence of my success is that I ended up at a company that values my exact superpower, which is work ethic.”

Judy Lew

Professional Development Director-Opticianry

Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Judy is always willing to help. She develops amazing relationships and will jump in whenever asked or even when not asked. I always know if I call her, she will find time for me and to answer my many questions. She has been in various roles throughout her very long career at EssilorLuxottica. She is the definition of going above and beyond.”

Judy Lew has been committed to helping people see better for more than 40 years, working for several key players in the industry. Most recently, she has served as an EssilorLuxottica ambassador, following many years working in sales and training. She is also a member of the Customer Development Group at EssilorLuxottica, helping to support and influence those in the opticianry.

“I’m working in a profession that truly impacts the quality of a person’s life yet is so misunderstood. My inspiration is knowing we make a difference in people’s vision as well as educating about who we are and what we do. As I emphasize to optician students, the profession can take you in so many directions as well as build lifelong friendships. The profession still has a small, family feeling.”

Lew said she has received tremendous support from family and colleagues throughout her career, particularly her parents and her first manager at MultiOptics, Dave Cuffe. Her journey into optics began with her own family’s vision problems, including a father and five sisters who all had myopia.

“While I didn’t like wearing glasses at the time, I was fascinated with our optician, Mr. Pfeiffer. Helping us see, making sure your glasses fit properly, and always having a friendly conversation. When I was 14, I decided I must figure out what I was going to do with my life. Between my experiences with the optician and realizing people will always need health care, I felt this profession would be interesting and sustainable.”

SHE SAYS… “It may sound like a cliché, but networking is essential. Invest time building relationships that many times turn into friendships. Once you do, you have this vast network of people with whom you can collaborate with at any time. You are not alone in this industry.”

Amélie Morel

President, Silmo International, Paris

Co-owner & Communication Director, Morel Group
Morbier, France

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Amélie proudly carries her father’s legacy, taking bold, creative risks to expand Morel’s market worldwide. Her dedication to the optical industry shows in her commitment to Silmo Paris. As its president since 2017, she is the first woman to head the exhibition. The continued success of Silmo and its international presence is a true testament to Amélie’s inspiring leadership.”

Amélie Morel is from a family of Jura-based eyewear manufacturers spanning four generations. She said, “It was only natural for me to pursue a local optical curriculum in Morez, one of the cradles of the eyewear industry in France, for my early years of study.” Later, she had the opportunity to enhance her optician training with a marketing degree from Berkeley (California, USA) and then an MBA from Geneva (Switzerland).”

Morel initially worked as an optician but she soon turned her focus toward the eyewear industry, starting with an internship in the company’s subsidiary in the U.S., where she ended up staying for five years. Upon her return to France, she took the helm of Morel France and later assumed the role of communication for the Group.

Morel is an independent and family-owned company that she co-manages today with her two brothers, Jérôme and Francis. “We work hand-in-hand to make Morel the French reference in the optical industry. We are fortunate to have complementary areas of expertise where each of us can contribute to the company’s success. Jérôme oversees general management, Francis handles export development, and I am responsible for communication.”

Morel, however, wears another hat. In 2017, the Silmo board of directors offered her the position of president of Silmo, the International Trade Fair for optics, eyewear and ophthalmic equipment. “I was unanimously elected and am deeply honored and grateful for the trust the board of directors placed in me. I am particularly proud as I was the first woman to be elected at the helm of an international trade fair like Silmo.

Morel acknowledges many connections throughout her career, but two individuals have left a lasting impression. First, Jacques Morel. “As my father, he taught me everything. He was an open-minded man who trusted us and supported my brothers and me in ensuring the continuity of Morel.

SHE SAYS… “My slogan is ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ which means one must dare and have confidence in oneself. For someone who has a passion for their profession, nothing is impossible.”

Courtney Myers

Senior Vice President

Red Havas
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

CHOSEN BECAUSE… Courtney is a rock star at the public relations company Red Havas where she handles PR for Transitions Optical. She has co-chaired the events committee of the Optical Women’s Association for several years, and her commitment to go above and beyond to ensure the OWA’s success has been phenomenal. Courtney is most deserving of this award.”

Courtney Myers graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design and minors in psychology and fine arts, which “is not your typical PR degree,” Myers said. Combining experience in business-to-business, consumer, health care and technology with her background in art and design Myers provides clients a unique perspective on marketing and public relations.

“At my core I am a storyteller. Whether you are a photochromic dye chemist or a CEO I want to speak your language, dig into your business and tell your story,” Myers said.

From strategic counsel and planning to execution Myers advises clients on public relations, social media, experiential events, CSR programs, brand development, company vision, thought leadership and direct marketing campaigns. She has helped Transitions Optical create, communicate and build their brand around the world.

For Transitions, Myers is heavily involved with Transitions Academy, an annual educational forum for industry partners on company marketing programs and industry trends; she created and managed the Transitions Pro Forum advisory group and Diversity Advisory board, which identify important patient challenges and oversees the development of programs directed to ECPs; and she developed the Transitions Change Agents, a social-savvy group of ODs and opticians who are changing the conversations ECPs are having with their peers and patients around Transitions lenses.

Myers has a special place in her heart for the Optical Women’s Association—she helped execute the OWA’s key events at Vision Expo East and West including the Champagne Breakfast and Connection Series events.

SHE SAYS… “Join the OWA. The OWA is a positive and uplifting organization where every interaction is about encouraging, supporting and uplifting each other. I appreciate how inclusive the organization is of all parts of the optical industry.”

Louise Sclafani, OD, FAAO, FSLS

Head, Specialty Lens Portfolio

Chicago, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is relentless in her pursuit of knowledge and as equally passionate about sharing her expertise with others in the industry.”

Louise Sclafani has shaped her career with clinical work, leadership and mentoring, and a unique knowledge base in the field of specialty lenses—and her resume is sprinkled with impressive titles.

As a high school student working at a Sears department store, Sclafani helped a customer get a piece of broken glass out of her eye. “I found that I really liked digging around in her eye, and I loved that I could bring her some relief,” said Sclafani. “I knew then I wanted to spend my provide life providing eyecare solutions.”

In her 24-year teaching career at the University of Chicago in the ophthalmology department, Sclafani trained over 70 ophthalmology residents and 175 optometry interns. During this time, she also provided eyecare solutions for customers in clinics across the Chicago area.

“My clinical experience has given me the opportunity to work with amazing surgeons, who helped me flex my skills and opened my eyes to my role in visual recovery utilizing specialty lenses,” said Sclafani. Now, as head of the specialty lens portfolio for CooperVision, Sclafani presents cutting-edge specialty lens options to eyecare providers nationwide.

Sclafani, who was named one of Newsweek’s Top 200 America’s Best Optometrists in 2023, is a founding member of the Global Ophthalmic Women (GLOW) group, is chair and diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry, serves on the Medical Advisory Board at the International Keratoconus Academy, and continues to see patients at SoLo EyeCare and Gallery in Chicago.

SHE SAYS… “Every day, I realize I can change someone’s life with contact lenses.”

Carol Wilbur

Executive Director

Optical Women’s Association
Dallas, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She holds the entire Optical Women’s Association together. Carol works endlessly to keep all of the working cogs of the OWA aligned and moving.”

Carol Wilbur never thought that a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and an entry-level job as a print music buyer would eventually lead her to a fulfilling career in the optical industry—especially as executive director for the Optical Women’s Association (OWA).

For a time, she worked with music educators and wholesale publishers on an international basis. But in 2017, she left the music industry and joined Madeline Crouch and Company as an assistant administrator for the OWA.

Only six months in the position, Wilbur was praised for her attention to detail and ability to answer almost any question—and the rest is history.

Today, Wilbur oversees the administrative aspects of the organization—everything from memberships, sponsorships, advertising, budgeting, event planning and outreach programs.

With her leadership, the organization has experienced tremendous growth in membership, committee involvement, and industry sponsorships, as well as record-setting attendance at Vision Expo events, increased programming and new partnership opportunities.

Her work at the OWA has also expanded educational and mentoring opportunities, broadened the scope of OWA’s annual awards and added a charitable donation element to many regional and award events.

One of her proudest moments was the creation of a Leadership Scholarship program which has already provided over 30 scholarships to future leaders in the optical field.

“The ripple effect of these efforts can be felt throughout the industry,” said Wilbur. “I love seeing women thrive—embracing new roles and taking off to new heights in their optical careers.”

SHE SAYS… “Starting your career with access to industry knowledge is a great step-up—join the OWA and see what it can offer you.”