Rachel Ahlson

Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Pacific Artisan Labs, Peak Artisan Labs, Artisan Lab Network
Portland, Oregon

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She sets the example for a superior work ethic, taking risks and giving back.”

Rachel Ahlson never believed she’d have a satisfying, full-time career in optics—at first, it was just a summer job at her mom’s lab. But now, more than 20 years later, Ahlson has worked in nearly every department in an optical lab—ultimately making her way to the peak of the industry as vice president and COO of Pacific Artisan Labs in 2018.

In her current role, she’s responsible for the financials and leads all aspects of administrative operations across the Artisan Lab Network. In 2018, she helped build Pacific Artisan Labs in Oregon from the ground up, and recently completed the launch of the company’s second lab, Peak Artisan Labs, in Colorado. Ahlson also plays an important supporting role for sister lab, Independent Optical Lab.

Today, Ahlson is one of the few women working in the highest levels of lens manufacturing. But her drive for success doesn’t stop there—she also cares deeply about giving back. “I am most passionate about our company’s philanthropic efforts within the prison system,” said Ahlson.

“We have a fresh start program where we actively volunteer at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility for women in Oregon. We have hired numerous women from the program, and I am proud that we have a zero percent recidivism rate.” Ahlson also plays a key role in helping place graduates of optical programs within the prison system and private practices across the West Coast.

SHE SAYS… “I always want to participate in work that has societal benefit. It’s important to play a role in improving the lives of others.”

Vanessa Bernarding

Chief People Officer

Vienna, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As chief people officer, Vanessa has led MyEyeDr. through a transformation of its Human Resources function. She has stewarded the company through several notable people-focused initiatives including the establishment of certified training centers and a formalized succession planning process.”

Prior to joining MyEyeDr. and the optical industry just two years ago, Vanessa Bernarding spent more than 20 years progressing across multiple industries in the human resources function, nearly 15 of which were with high growth retail organizations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Total Wine & More.

“That’s where I learned the art of establishing scalable people solutions that fueled future growth through what I consider to be the most critical asset—people,” said Bernarding.

That experience paid dividends for both Bernarding and MyEyeDr. in August of 2021 when she came aboard as chief people officer where she is responsible for the “people strategy that fuels the company’s current and future growth.” Her direct areas of responsibility include talent acquisition, total rewards, HR operations, HR consulting, talent and organizational development, and ESG and internal communications.

Under her leadership, the company’s HR department has implemented several innovative programs and initiatives that have enhanced company culture, improved associate engagement, and reduced turnover.

Bernarding credits MyEyeDr. CEO and co-founder Sue Downes for sparking her interest in the optical field. Bernarding said, “Sue’s story and passion for the vision health and wellness industry was contagious. It piqued my curiosity and that has only grown since becoming a part of the MyEyeDr. team where I have had the honor of working with our doctors and team members.”

SHE SAYS… “Find peers, leaders, teammates and mentors who will listen, provide feedback and help you grow. Trust your ability to take on something new and if you fail, learn from it, pick yourself up and keep going.”

Jennifer Brown

SVP Sales Optical Channel

Kering Eyewear
New York, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “I have never known another VP to roll up their sleeves to get the job done. She will do anything to help her team and nothing is below her. A true class act in terms of leadership. Her influence stretches in so many ways and we are all proud to work under her leadership.”

Jennifer Brown found her way into the industry through a happy accident over 20 years ago, due to her love for fashion and luxury brands. She said, “On my first interview, when I started after college, I was intrigued by the fashion brands that company represented at the time. The opportunity led me to fall in love with the optical industry. It is quite interesting that in the U.S. optical market, I do not know of many people, if any, that leave once they join.”

Over the course of her career in the optical industry, Brown has found a niche within the independent channel and sales teams. At Kering Eyewear, she works to set the standard for luxury eyewear in the U.S. Through her and her team’s work, Kering Eyewear has grown from a start-up to a major player in the industry.

She built her team and partnerships from scratch and was there every step of the way. She said, “Looking back at my six years with Kering Eyewear, my major accomplishment and greatest pride is the incredible journey that I have been privileged to be part of and the results and partnerships we have established in the market.”

For Brown, inspiration and guidance comes from both her leaders and direct reports. She said, “they have shown the importance of being overprepared, finding my why, stepping outside my comfort zone, always to ‘sell a lot’ and provide a reason to believe.”

SHE SAYS… “For anyone starting in the optical industry, I would advise them to find their specific talents and passions and identify how they will bring value to set themselves apart. It is okay to ask for help, and to not have the answers for everything. Believe in yourself and never give up.”

Marcy DeWalt

Executive Director, Professional Relations Anterior Segment, U.S. Eye Care

Allergan, an AbbVie company
Irvine, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Marcy has pushed indefatigably for inclusion and diversity within the profession. In fact, Allergan was the lead sponsor in the First Annual Women’s Leadership Summit, which kicked off in 2019.”

Marcy DeWalt has over 20 years sales and marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry and joined Allergan in 2010 as a district sales manager. She transitioned to the professional relations marketing team focused on optometry in 2014 and took over leading the team in 2020 with expanded responsibilities supporting ophthalmology in the spring of 2022. She is a member of OWL (Ophthalmic World Leaders), Women Leaders of Octane, and is active in supporting efforts for both women in ophthalmology and women in optometry.

DeWalt oversees a team of five marketing directors supporting Allergan’s overall academic development strategy and conference strategy at the national, regional and state level. She also works collaboratively with the team on the overall KOL, peer to peer and emerging leader strategy, as well as building out key programs like VIEW (Visionary Insights for Eyecare Women) and Optometry Jumpstart.

“I am really passionate about my work with our Visionary Insights for Eye Care Women (VIEW) platform. It is so rewarding to help connect women across eyecare and then watch these relationships flourish from one of our events,” DeWalt said. “I am such an advocate of women supporting women and love to see this play out in front of my eyes.”

She said, “I am inspired by the collaborative nature of eyecare from the educators, to the thought leaders, to the community-based eyecare providers, along with my industry colleagues to find strategies and treatments to help patients protect and preserve their sight.”

SHE SAYS… “Be open to change, growth and continued learning. This industry is full of lessons and learnings, so embrace it and find others to support you in your journey.”

Terri Dykstra

Senior Vice President, Professional Business Growth and Development

Eyemart Express
Farmers Branch, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her extensive experience enables her to relate to and encourage all Eyemart Express associates—from opticians and district managers to regional managers and doctor partners—to strive for excellence.”

With over 35 years of experience in the optical industry, Terri Dykstra has dedicated the last 10 years to Eyemart Express. Throughout her professional journey, she has maintained a strong commitment to learning and delivering outstanding results, driven by a keen business intuition.

She began her optical career as an optician at US Vision and quickly progressed to the role of optical manager, where she honed her leadership skills and gained a comprehensive understanding of operations. Building on this foundation, Dykstra advanced to district manager, and ultimately, regional manager, where she managed an extensive geographic area and fostered a culture of excellence and customer satisfaction.

Ten years ago, Dykstra joined Eyemart Express as director of professional affairs and soon became vice president of professional affairs, playing a vital role in building and growing the company’s network of affiliate optometrists. Today, she is senior vice president of professional business growth and development.

“One of my primary responsibilities includes recruiting friendly people with a customer service-oriented mindset and training them for success,” she said. “I’m proud to have one of the lowest turnover rates within the organization, while growing the company over 60 percent.”

Dykstra’s focus has always been on team-building, which has been instrumental in helping hundreds of her fellow associates experience successful careers in optical. She has cultivated an environment that empowers both associates and doctor partners, fostering a harmonious and cooperative culture.

This successful mindset has resulted in a high-performing team with low employee turnover. Remarkably, more than 98 percent of Eyemart Express’ doctors stated that they’ve found a home with the company under Dykstra’s guidance.

SHE SAYS… “I have a strong commitment to empowering others.”

Lynn DiMarco

Regional Sales Manager – Southeast

Richmond, Virginia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Lynn’s positive attitude radiates from not only herself but her team. Her region is the highest performing region because of her leadership and her passion for Silhouette. She has coached each of her account executives not just on selling skills, but truly how to be business consultants for our customers.”

Lynn DiMarco began her 45-year career in the optical industry in private practice, working in Hacienda Heights, California. She worked at store and training managers for many years, before beginning to take on outside sales positions until Maui Jim approached her for an optical sales specialist role in Southern California.

There, DiMarco supervised 125 Sunglass Hut outlets and trained new employees, while managing her own sales territory. She moved to ClearVision after Maui Jim, achieving rookie of the year status and increasing revenue drastically. DiMarco has held sales roles at Shamir and Essilor.

In February 2016, DiMarco was handpicked by a retiring Silhouette account executive to take over her territory. She took this on to great success, transforming the $994,000 territory into a $1.5 million territory within three years. She was named MVP of the year in both 2017 and 2019, and earned President’s Club at Silhouette in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In 2019, she took on the role of regional sales manager for Silhouette’s Southeast region, and recruited her own replacement who was later named rookie of the year in 2020. Most recently, in 2021, DiMarco was offered the Silhouette Vision Sensation Lens national manager role, while maintaining her regional sales manager role. Under her management, the Southeast was named region of the year in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, and DiMarco herself was named regional manager of the year in 2021.

SHE SAYS… “Live with passion and do not let fear get in your way. Keep moving forward, even if you feel you are not qualified and/or the goal feels too large. Frankly, what you believe about yourself impacts your success or failure—believe in yourself.”

Carolina Gago Olmedo

Chief Operating Officer

IOT Lenses
Madrid, Spain

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is a key figure in the world of optometry and vision sciences. She is influential for her industry knowledge and experience, as well as the ways she has worked to unify the operations of IOT and deliver a better experience for our customers.”

As a 16-year-old, Carolina Gago Olmedo excelled in physics and was determined to pursue a future career in that field. But after finding the field too ambiguous, she dismissed the idea entirely.

One fateful day she found herself needing glasses, so she went to an optical store to get fitted for her first pair of prescription glasses. Amazed by the process, she remembered that optics was a branch of physics—and that sealed the deal for her career in optometry.

In her 18 years in the optical industry, Gago Olmedo has worked as an optician, progressive lens designer, researcher and an unexpected shift into sales and marketing with IOT Lenses.

Today, she oversees the daily operations of 400 partners in over 70 countries—working hard to ensure united and aligned management teams. Under her leadership, her teams have launched 35 new products, and in the last five years, nearly doubled the company’s growth, as well as diversified into new business lines.

Her guidance also helped IOT successfully introduce the concept of private label lens designs that didn’t exist in the market—enabling hundreds of laboratories worldwide to compete with greater independence, better margins and greater differentiation points.

“What inspires me the most is the company’s vision,” she said. “IOT aims to be part of the next major revolution in the optical industry since the advent of free-form technology. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that we are working to build an optical industry that aspires to be radically different from what it is today.”

SHE SAYS… “My greatest accomplishment is in having assembled a team that I am immensely proud of, one that our clients both trust and consider an integral part of their team.”

Barbara Lax

Co-Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer

ClearVision Optical Company
Hauppauge, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has played a tremendous role over the past few years, as the business needed to be thoughtfully shepherded through the COVID storm.”

Although Barbara Lax is a finance guru—starting as a CPA and climbing the ladder to become chief financial officer of ClearVision Optical Company—she strongly believes in making business choices with people in mind.

Affectionately known as “the Queen of Cash” at ClearVision, Lax leads the financial analysis group and handles all matters of profitability. She also orchestrates the internal operations related to facilities management, business insurance, business intelligence, inventory and logistics, key accounts and the company’s distribution center—with a central focus on the customer experience.

“I love the values of a family-owned business,” said Lax. “I understand how important it is to be customer service-minded and I enjoy bringing a service-first mentality to every aspect of the company.”

She also brings her strong work ethic to every obstacle. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lax significantly supported the family-owned company’s operations, and was determined to maintain relationships with the company’s employees, customers, vendors and sales consultants.

With her specialized financial and optical knowledge, Lax successfully helped the company provide essential services to customers, manage inventory and maintain profitability during the shutdown.

“I’ve found that by treating everyone with respect, our company was able to easily gain the support of everyone we worked with during a really difficult time,” she said.

Beyond her responsibilities as co-COO and CFO, Lax loves mentoring young professionals on their career path. She is also a long-time member of the Optical Women’s Association, Financial Executive Women’s Group, Long Island Financial Executives Group and Institute of Management Accounts.

SHE SAYS… “It’s important to invest time and effort into people. This leads to doing business the right way from the start.”

Cynthia McWilliams

Chief Officer of Sales

OGI Eyewear
Minneapolis, Minnesota

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “In the reboot of OGI, the sales team reaching our goals will be a major influencer of how we are positioned in the market going forward. The sales team is the voice and face of our company and Cynthia’s expertise pulling together the best team in the industry will chart the course for OGI being the company to partner with, succeed with and have fun with as a supplier.”

Cynthia McWilliams’ career in the optical industry began at LensCrafters, with the help of a friend. She explained, “A friend was going to a job interview at a company I never heard of called LensCrafters, and she said ‘hey, they are hiring 2 people.’ I tagged along and got the job. I loved the eyewear industry and never left.” At LensCrafters as a merchandizer over a group of stores, McWilliams developed exclusive trademarked frame collections, and eventually took on the role of director of frame purchasing—she was, at the time, the youngest person to be promoted to director at LensCrafters.

McWilliams has worked throughout the eyewear industry over the past 36 years, at companies including Diaco, Viva, Luxottica and Kenmark. She helped launch the first-ever Flexon TV commercial, once set the record for selling the most Ray-Bans in the world per year, negotiated and developed new products with Leonardo Del Vecchio and discovered a VTO technology that was later purchased by Luxottica.

Now, as chief officer of sales for OGI Eyewear, she is helping to grow the company’s sales by focusing on the independent market and developing a state of the art VTO system. “I enjoy helping people to see and feel their best while wearing eyewear,” McWilliams said—something she gets to do every day as part of her job.

SHE SAYS… “Surround yourself with a great team and trust your instincts. Women are very committed and passionate, and sometimes their voice is not always loud enough.”

Simone Meskelis

Senior Vice President, ECP and Retail

Hoya Vision Care
Lewisville, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Simone shares the passion of her team and has unified our company. She is focused on programs and partnerships that represent the independent market as well as a unique perspective to retail accounts as well.”

Simone Meskelis has been in the optical industry for more than seven years following nearly 15 years in business consulting in Brazil. She has been involved in projects related to all aspects of optical business management including operational efficiency, financial budgeting and cost control, process improvement and standardization, strategic planning and sales management across multiple industries within the public and private sectors.

In 2016, she began her optical career through sales analytics and implementation of incentive plans. By 2020 she had joined Hoya as the vice president of sales enablement, leading the business intelligence team and the sales analytics and revenue management groups. More recently she took on the new role of senior vice president for the ECP and retail channels.

“The optical industry has an inherent noble purpose which is to help improve individuals’ lives through vision and that in itself is an inspiration. Additionally, Hoya is strongly committed to supporting independent practices, which means that we have a strong focus to positively impact business owners through support and partnership. Having a team that works together to help our customers is inspiring to me on a daily basis.”

Meskelis said she entered the optical industry by chance, but has fallen in love with the people and the impact she sees everyday. She said, “I have met so many brilliant individuals that are passionate about their work and bring a strong sense of mission and purpose to their day to day and this has certainly inspired me to contribute to the field.”

SHE SAYS… “I think we have a prime opportunity to grow in the optical industry as we are seeing increased diversity in the field and increased female presence. My piece of advice is don’t try to do it alone, take in all the support and help you can get. This industry is filled with talented individuals that are eager to help.”

Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO, FSLS

Co-Founder and CEO

Dr. Contact Lens + Owner of West Broward Eyecare Associates
Tamarac, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Rhue is passionate about her businesses and about helping others succeed through technology. She has a proven track record of getting things done and pulling people up along with her.”

Brianna Rhue began her career as a student of optometry in 2005. She became an OD in 2009 and has served the industry for more than 33 years. She founded Dr. Contact Lens with Dr. Jennifer Tabiza in 2017 to help serve patients and practices. This has allowed her to become a voice for innovation and better care.

“What inspires me every day is knowing that we as ODs give so much to our patients to take care of their vision. I want to empower others to know they hold a lot of the cards and that it is up to us to understand this abundant industry and how investing in themselves is the only way to enable them to continue to take care of their patients.”

She said her own experience having myopia as a child has helped shape her journey in the optical field. She first started wearing glasses, then switched to contacts in the third grade, something she said hooked her on the industry and charted her path in optics. Likewise, she is also grateful for the many mentors who have helped her along the way.

“I always had great mentors and loved seeing my colleagues share their gifts with others. So many of us get busy in our clinics taking care of our patients and forget to take care of ourselves and our businesses and that is how I believe I have made a difference in developing Dr. Contact Lens for optometrists to not only help their patients but for them to develop prosperous clinics and help empower their staff.”

SHE SAYS… “Surround yourself with great people both in your life and in your business because it is a long bumpy road, and you need to see others doing it all between career, family and taking care of yourself.”

Wendy Salle

Chief Merchandising Officer

New Look Vision Group USA
New York and Miami

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has served as a mentor and advisor to many in the luxury eyewear industry, helping them achieve a better understanding of unique products and their retail business.”

In 1987, Wendy Salle moved to the U.S. from England and went to work for an optician who needed some sales help. She loved the mix of medical and fashion, so she studied, became a licensed dispensing optician and an illustrious career followed.

Salle owned and operated Salle Opticians in Atlanta, building it into one of the highest grossing independent luxury stores in the U.S. She sold to Luxury Optical Holdings (LOH) in early 2021, staying on while adding the role of chief merchandising officer for the 30-plus LOH stores.

In 2022, LOH was purchased by Canada-based New Look Vision Group and Salle joined them to head merchandising for the expanded group in the U.S., which today is close to 70 stores and counting. Her role harnesses her years of industry relationships to stay a leader in the U.S. luxury market.

“I love luxury product and people,” said Salle, who feels blessed to have had a great peer group. “As a solo business owner, it’s important to have people to bounce ideas off, share successes and challenges and learn from each other. The optical high-end sector is very lucky to have some of the smartest businesspeople I know, and I am grateful that many of these have become friends and confidants.

“I have trained many opticians over the years and always tried to foster a very inclusive, sharing environment. By sharing my path to success and many setbacks with younger industry peers, I hope to have inspired them to create the optical practices of their dreams. It is not an easy path, it takes years, but it is so very rewarding. I am lucky that my daughter Nicola is following in my footsteps.”

SHE SAYS… “All women should surround themselves with people invested in their success, find a mentor, join a group such as OWA and see the support that is available to help you succeed.”

Nicole Skibinski

VP, Business Development and Operations

Newark, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE…“Nicole wears many hats at EyeQue—a little bit of sales, a little bit of innovation and a big passion for the industry. She has a genuine desire to see her clients become more successful in the industry.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicole Skibinski left her 20 years in clinical work and role as chief operating officer for a multi-doctor, multi-location practice for the opportunity of something even more fulfilling: the rapid innovation and advancement of optical science with EyeQue.

“It was my passion to marry clinical work and technology—and this was the time to jump in,” said Skibinski. “The development of new materials, designs and technology constantly challenges and expands our ability to greatly enhance the quality of people’s lives.”

As vice president of business development and operations at EyeQue, Skibinski ensures seamless transactions and develops strong strategic partnerships that help grow the company and pivot award-winning technology into B2B. She also streamlines eyecare professionals’ workflow to improve their bottom lines, and has led countless optical departments to record growth and sales.

Her marketing strategies and 25 years of knowledge in the optical industry have catapulted business development for EyeQue into forward motion—preparing the company and the industry to reach new heights.

Skibinski is helping eyecare practitioners understand and appreciate the value that EyeQue’s vision testing devices can offer to their patients.

She is also a longtime member of the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) and the Opticians Association of America (OAA).

SHE SAYS… “If you want to grow as a woman in the industry you should advocate for yourself, find a mentor, network with leading women and believe in your potential.”

Jenny Smith

Vice President of Professional Development

Coppell, Texas

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Jenny is the most passionate, hard-working and committed employee we have. Her enthusiasm and passion is evident in every interaction you have with her.”

Jenny Smith took many paths to become a leader in the optical industry. She began her career as an inner city high school biology teacher before moving on to the pharmaceutical industry working in diabetes, pain management and clinical education. She joined Essilor working in multiple roles including sales, training and leadership. Three years ago she joined the team at Neurolens holding what she said are the strongest missions she has been a part of thus far.

“I create and execute training and development for internal employees, independent eyecare practices and patient facing education. I had the privilege of building out and leading a team of practice development specialists at Neurolens. This team trains and implements our technology using patient-friendly language mixed with clinical knowledge for the practice. The team quadrupled in number in less than two years.”

She not only credits her mentors for her success, but her employees too who have helped define her as a leader. She said every employee she’s had has been a mentor to her, adding that they challenged her to see things from a different perspective and pushed her to give sacrificially “until it hurt sometimes.” She said a Tony Robbins seminar also encouraged her to “set goals so high they demand an entirely different version of myself.”

SHE SAYS… “I am inspired by the ability to make an impact in practices and in the lives of patients. Educating practices to level up their efficiencies and service levels and then watching that come to fruition is unmatched.”

Rasa Tamulavichus, OD

President, Big City Optical and CEO, Easy Optical Eye Care

Chicago, Illinois

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Rasa’s influence comes from her approachable demeanor and unwavering commitment to patient care. Her team knows her as a person well connected to the outside world seeking out opportunities to evolve the field of optometry. Dr. Rasa has designed a telemedicine platform that maximizes patient choice.”

Dr. Rasa Tamulavichus has been in private practice since 2004, starting her career with a big box lease at Walmart Vision Center. By 2014, she had launched her own business, Easy Optical Eye Care, where she was able to learn the full scope of optometry and her patients. Since 2017, she and her business partner have opened 17 locations of her second business venture Big City Optical.

She also serves as a member of the American Optometric Association/Illinois Optometric Association and as the VSP Ambassador for the State of Illinois.

“Optometry has entered its Renaissance Era with new technologies and quick adoption rates from patients have moved the profession at a rapid pace in the last five years. I am excited how these new technologies combined with broader acceptance from practitioners and patients will increase the accessibility of patient care.”

Dr. Tamulavichus said she has gained a lot of knowledge from her mentors over the years helping her to craft her skills and improve patient care. She noted that as a practice owner, she “gets to define what greatness is and those early influencers had a big part of what my companies and I are like every day.”

SHE SAYS… “As an immigrant to the United States I came from an area of the world where you had to find a side hustle to support your family. I always believed that private business is at the heart of the American Way. I was always drawn to the sciences and wanted to enter into a field where entrepreneurship was celebrated and I believe that optometry represented that 20 years ago and continues to head in that direction today.”

Lois Woldt

Director of Merchandising

Shopko Optical Corporate
Green Bay, Wisconsin

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her drive, enthusiasm and hunger to learn is a great example for her team. And most importantly, she understands the needs of both the optical patient and the practitioners.”

After spending 36 years in merchandising with Shopko Stores, Lois Woldt joined Shopko Optical in 2019 to lead the merchandising functions of the new organization.

When this happened, Woldt used her merchandising prowess from her experience in fashion apparel and accessories (including fashion sunglasses) to navigate the learning curve she faced transitioning to the optical industry. She not only survived, she shined—gaining an important understanding of the needs of both optical patients and practitioners.

Today, in her current role as director of merchandising, Woldt is accountable for leading the overall merchandise strategies that support 141 centers—including buying, business planning, merchandise presentation, and trend and competition analysis.

She has driven significant financial success through margin expansion initiatives across lenses, frames, contacts and consumables. She also manages vendor relationships, and leads the charge for skill development and career growth of her team, comprised of senior buyers, a senior business analyst and merchandise support staff.

“Through the years, I’ve learned so much from so many fellow teammates,” she said. “I learned that you don’t need to complicate things—you just need to listen. I also learned that it’s okay to be uncomfortable—that’s how you learn and continue to grow.”

SHE SAYS… “I’m inspired by watching my team grow and the biggest compliment I can get is that I developed a strong team.”

Susy Yu, OD, MBA, FAAO

Director of Business Strategy and Operations Support

Vision Essentials by Kaiser Permanente
Los Angeles, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She has demonstrated leadership skills, national regulatory and public policy expertise, and over 20 years of experience as a business strategist and operations manager at a major health care organization.”

Susy Yu, OD, is a senior clinical and business administrator who loves exploring new opportunities, new technology and new tools to improve operations and patient outcomes. She leads a fantastic team of product managers for frames and lenses, finance, marketing and strategic project consultants to execute on these ideas.

Week after week, Yu’s focus is on population care management, translating the clinical perspective into concrete business outcomes. She’s also influential across all aspects of eyecare, from clinical operations to optical retail supply chain to overall strategy.

“The innovations coming into the health care industry will reshape how we deliver care,” she said. “This is an opportunity not just to improve health outcomes for patients but also to allow our clinicians to streamline their workflows and help them in their busy practices.”

Beyond her work at Vision Essentials, Yu is involved in many industry groups, including the National Board of Examiners in Optometry board of directors, Optometry Giving Sight board of directors, Council on Optometric Practitioner Education governing committee, and as an American Academy of Optometry diplomate in Public Health and Environmental Vision.

What inspires her and what is her vision for the future? “Optical and optometry are related but different fields,” she said. “As someone with a foot in both worlds, I believe that optical has the potential to be about so much more than selling frames and lenses.

“And optometry has the potential to be about so much more than refractions and writing prescriptions. Both fields together create a systemic opportunity to improve the health of an entire population. That’s the main focus of my career.”

SHE SAYS… “Be brave. Take risks.”