Sharon Burkart

Senior Director, Marketing Communications

Bruder Healthcare
Alpharetta, Georgia

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her dedication and connections within the optometry industry, especially the dry eye category, drive awareness and provide innovative solutions.”

Sharon Burkart never imagined that a mountain bike accident—and a stick in her boyfriend’s eye—would inspire a lifelong career in the optical industry. “I was amazed at the talent and kindness of an ophthalmologist who opened his practice to do an eye exam and remove shards of debris from my boyfriend’s eye,” said Burkart. “I can truly say that the eyecare market found me.”

It’s no surprise that such a personal experience shaped Burkart’s love for the industry and its members. Now celebrating 20 years at Bruder Healthcare, Burkart has worn many hats in marketing communications, including brand and accounts management, online marketplace, social media, catalog printing and production, and customer service.

As senior director of marketing communications, she leads marketing initiatives for all brands, in all channels of trade, and across all mediums.

Burkart is also the leader of the new product introduction program. She has provided multi-platform and channel support for seven Bruder Healthcare products, including Bruder Moist Heat Compress, Eyeleve Contact Lens Compress, Thermalon, MediBeads and ProtoCold.

Her team is particularly active in working to advance the science and education for dry eye disease. With Burkart’s leadership, they are preparing to launch three new dry eye innovations to the market soon.

“My days are full and enriching, but there is still so much to learn and do in the field,” said Burkart. Always learning, she’s an active member of Ophthalmic World Leaders and a champion of the Bruder Healthcare Optometric Education Connection Program.

SHE SAYS… “It’s inspiring to work in this industry and to provide products that bring relief and comfort to so many.”

Mikki Collins

Founder of ROWT Magazine

Business Development Lead for Groups & Alliances with Safilo
Lake Stevens, Washington

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Mikki is super passionate about business growth, leadership and personal development. She is the founder of ROWT (Reps and Opticians Working Together), a magazine focused on supporting reps and opticians. She is super active on many committees in the Optical Women’s Association and is definitely one to watch—she is a superstar.”

Mikki Collins began her career in the eyecare industry in 2009 as a certified surgical technician assistant in cataract surgery and in 2011 she joined a private ophthalmology practice and earned her certification as a certified ophthalmic assistant. “After spending over a decade in patient care, I found a love for eyewear and pursued a career outside of the office,” Collins explained. “I began my journey as a sales rep in 2020 working with independent brands and moved into a national management role in 2022.”

Along this journey, in early 2021, Collins founded ROWT Magazine (Reps & Opticians Working Together). Through ROWT, Collins has created a space for the industry to bring up issues, listen to one another’s experiences and try something new.

She explained, “Before ROWT, I felt reps were stuck in only knowing what their company taught them, but with ROWT this has given reps a chance to learn from one another’s experiences and can help aid in bringing new ideas to their business. The gap between reps and opticians has hindered our industry for far too long, it’s time for us to work together with more empathy and understanding.”

In addition to her work as founder of ROWT, Collins is a member of the OWA and an associate chair on the Association’s digital and marketing committee, as well as a member of the communications and website committee.

SHE SAYS… “Network with like-minded women and find yourself a mentor. Join organizations like the Optical Women’s Association and get involved in conversations like we are having at ROWT. Your voice can make a difference.”

Susan Daly

Director, Optical Strategy & Development

Stamford, Connecticut

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Susan is an innovator at her core and has great passion for helping small businesses, because she was once one herself. Susan joined IDOC as an optical consultant and over time recognized the need for a better process and efficiency in how a practice manages their frame inventory, selection and data insights.”

Susan Daly, director, optical strategy and development at IDOC, has worked in the optical industry for 20 years, taking breaks during college to study abroad and during the recession in 2008-09 to run her own business (a coffee shop in the Catskill Mountains in New York) for seven years.

“I keep coming back to optical because of the people, the challenge and the ability to help small business owners, what this industry was built on, and on which it continues to depend,” Daly said. “I enjoy the complexity, the relationships and the autonomy, because while the industry is old, the opportunity to innovate is broad.”

As a director at IDOC, Daly is responsible for the successful ongoing delivery of the portfolio of optical services, along with the ongoing innovation pipeline to offer even more to the independent optical.

“I’m happy to still be working directly with our frame partners and other frame companies whose product we purchase in our service, IDOC Inventory Management. The community of strategic professionals at this industry’s frame companies is unmatched and I count myself lucky to be part of it,” she said. “I am also managing a group of consultants, buyers and inventory planners who make me look like I know what I am doing through their hard work, dedication to the independent optometric practice and daily demonstration of their expertise.”

SHE SAYS… “My advice may be controversial but forget that you are a woman. Being a woman is a single data point, and one that has become more fluid in recent years. It describes neither your fullest capacity nor your biggest opportunities.”

Rose Harris

Senior Director Marketing, North America

Transitions Optical, a division of EssilorLuxottica
Pinellas Park, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Rose began her career at Transitions Optical in 1991 and has served in various sales and marketing roles. During her career, she has led launches of numerous generations of Transitions products, driven key account marketing programs, overseen brand activations and managed education initiatives, including Transitions Academy, one of the optical industry’s most well-recognized educational events.”

Rose Harris has always been focused on helping people improve their vision working her way up the ladder at Transitions Optical in the areas of consumer and B2B marketing, and taking on positions in sales and business development to help gain broader perspective. Today she is involved in strategic development, implementation and integration of all marketing programs for North America.

She was recently the project lead on launches of products such as Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses, helping to present some of the first national consumer advertising campaigns.

“The uniqueness of our industry, being both health care and retail, makes it interesting. Not only do we help people see the world, but we also allow them to express their personal style to the world.”

Harris said she has always tried to share the breadth of her experience and understanding of the optical industry with her team to deliver the highest level of support to partners and eyecare professionals. She said this begins with understanding patient expectations, purchasing behaviors and needs.

SHE SAYS… “Know your value and how you contribute best. Become ‘known’ for that … i.e. being innovative, or a problem solver. This will lead to being asked to be on more projects. Then, take any opportunity to work across the company or in the field with customers and with successful industry professionals.”

Stephanie Woo, OD, FAAO, FSLS

Owner and Founder, Contact Lens Institute of Nevada, Founder and CEO of Woo University

Las Vegas, Nevada

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “As the founder of Woo University, an online educational platform that delivers high quality CE to over 20,000 optometrists and optical staff, she has truly revolutionized continuing education in our field and continues to innovate.”

Dr. Stephanie Woo has been an optometrist for 12 years, owning three large private practices in Arizona and California. In 2020, she sold the practices to start a new one in Nevada with a focus on specialty contact lens patients for hard contact lenses, scleral lenses, custom soft lenses, scleral cover shells and myopia management. She is also the founder and CEO of Woo University, a non-profit organization that has delivered over 100,000 certificates to eye doctors all over the world.

“I founded the Contact Lens Institute of Nevada in 2020 to provide excellent specialty contact lens care for extremely complex eyes. My clinic is dedicated solely to contact lenses, and we do not accept medical or vision insurance.

She said education was the passion that led her to create the Woo University.

Now, with the Woo U platform, doctors have access to speakers and topics from the comfort and safety of their own home.”

SHE SAYS… “Life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t truly love. If there is something you would rather be doing, it is completely possible, you just need to develop it and take action.”