Emily Eisenhower, OD

Optometrist and Owner
Vision Source of Newport
Newport, Tennessee

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Emily is already a state president at the age of 31 and has helped grow a rural practice in Tennessee to the point where it has added vision rehabilitation to the office. She is a risk taker who is strengthening the profession at the grassroots level.”

Emily Eisenhower, optometrist and owner of a Vision Source practice in Newport, Tenn., discovered her passion for optical in high school when she worked for local optometrists as a technician. Throughout her college career at East Tennessee State University, she worked in a primary care and a neuro-rehabilitation clinic. She graduated summa cum laude from the Southern College of Optometry in 2017.

At Vision Source, Eisenhower manages the neuro-rehabilitation clinic and therapies, conducts eye exams and performs general diagnostic interpretation, including the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease.

Eisenhower is president-elect of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians and has served on the TAOP board since 2019. She’s also an active member of the American Optometric Association (AOA), and recently received the AOA President’s Award for exemplary dedication to optometry and the advancement of the profession.

“My inspiration is the impact I can have on my patients’ lives, whether we’re addressing someone’s need for glasses, providing them with a diagnosis of a systemic-related eye disease, or recommending vision therapy to allow the eyes and brain to function more smoothly,” Eisenhower said.

Eisenhower had no shortage of mentors when she was starting out in the field. “My mentors have made me the doctor that I am today,” she. said. “Dr. Jeff Foster and Dr. Kurt Steele, two of the great optometry giants from Tennessee, are the reason I became interested in optometry,” she said.

SHE SAYS… “As women, we must continue to stay engaged in our profession and maintain leadership roles within our practice, and state and national organizations. If there’s an area of optometry that you’re passionate about, continue learning and share your expertise in that field. Practice with compassion and put your patients first. That way, you’ll always be successful.”

Breann Forliti, OD


Blaine Eye Clinic
Blaine, Minnesota

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She leads a team of almost 40 employees by role modeling, mentoring and inspiring. She gives back to the community in her ‘See The Good’ campaign, which recognizes people who either have been ‘the good in someone’s life’ or need to see the good, by donating a pair of glasses to the honoree.”

Breann Forliti, OD, of Blaine Eye Clinic in Blaine, Minn., grew up in the optical industry; her father was an optometrist and business owner. She did everything from cleaning and filing to refracting for doctors at his practice, until she went to optometry school. Forliti got a degree in business from St. Cloud State and an optometry degree from Southern California College of Optometry. She was recently named a CooperVision Best Practice for 2022.

Dr. Forliti was chosen for this honor because she is committed to building and strengthening relationships among optometrists, and providing higher standards of eyecare. She recently joined the board of VOSH, one of the largest optometry and lay volunteer humanitarian nonprofits in the world.

“It’s my responsibility to give a high level of care to all my patients and offer them understanding, education and tools to achieve and maintain their best vision,” Dr. Forliti said. “I set the standard of care that we provide for patients. It’s also my responsibility to be a smart businesswoman as my staff and their families depend on this. I also feel it’s important to give back and support the community around us.”

Dr. Forliti’s main mentor was her father, Dr. Lynn Sulerud, who instilled in her a good and fair work ethic and taught her that if she always makes choices in the best interest of her patients, everything else will fall into place. She was also mentored by his business partner who eventually became Dr. Forliti’s business partner and friend, Dr. Georgiann Jensen. “She has modeled for me kindness, compassion, and exceptional patient care with uncompromising values,” Dr. Forliti said.

SHE SAYS… “People more than ever are looking for authenticity. There is not one right way. Find what makes you passionate or unique or find something you feel really strongly about and build around that.”

Tracy V. Green
Co-Founder and CEO

Nancey Harris
Co-Founder and COO

Vontélle Eyewear
Brooklyn, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “These owners, leaders and dear friends have worked tirelessly to build a loyal following (including Queen Latifah, among others) and to make accessible their beloved accessory, fashion eyewear. Their story is eye-catching because they left significant corporate jobs (Tracy is a former hospital CFO, and Nancey a sales executive) to make an impact. They seek to improve the quality of life for others and to advocate for the next generation.”

Vontélle Eyewear co-founder and CEO Tracy V. Green (r) and co-founder and COO Nancey Harris (l) are filling an essential niche. The global eyewear market in 2019 was valued at $135 billion and is estimated to grow to $259 billion by 2027. Yet, there’s less than a handful of Black eyewear makers.

Vontélle Eyewear’s handcrafted designs are created for diverse faces. Green and Harris said their research concluded that many people wear ill-fitting glasses, so they designed wider bridges for the nose, and larger lenses for high cheekbones.

“Vontélle was an idea, that enabled us to create a brand with a mission,” they noted. “The ability to combine the gift of sight and beauty is fulfilling and quintessential. We became entrepreneurs to fill a need in the marketplace … and every day we receive confirmation that we are making people happy.”

The Vontélle concept was born when both founders lost their expensive eyewear in the same year. They decided to buy from a Black-owned brand, but after searching for glasses with an ethnic flair, realized that none existed. That’s when Green suggested they start their own line.

The company produces luxury bespoke eyewear that has unique African, Caribbean and Latin designs.

THEY SAY… “Do your research and get the knowledge and answers you seek. Make sure you have a business plan with real costs and revenue projections. For every $1 you make, you are likely spending $3.”

Angelina Popovic, OD

VP Medical and Professional Affairs

Shopko Optical
Green Bay, Wisconsin

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Dr. Popovic’s influence has been felt broadly across the company since she joined the Shopko Optical team in late summer 2021. Dr. P, as she’s affectionately known, brings energy and drive to leading the professional services organization and influencing the patient experience. Dr. Popovic has leveraged her years as an optometrist and optometry student mentor to enhance our doctor-centric practice model and culture.”

Dr. Angelina Popovic joined the optical industry more than 15 years ago after graduating from the Illinois College of Optometry where she was awarded the Clinic Excellence Award for exemplary patient care services. During her career, she has aspired to work at a higher level to promote the continuous development of knowledge, skills, and quality of patient care with her peers.

She has taken on several roles during her time at Shopko including leading optometric services on executing operational activities impacting doctor operations, and overseeing staffing and recruiting of optometrists for Shopko Optical. She is also responsible for providing strategic direction and day-to-day operations of all Shopko Optical doctors and independent doctors of optometry.

As a child, Dr. Popovic was greatly impacted by a loved one who went blind. The slow and distressing process that nobody could stop was difficult for a child to understand. She recognized fear and helplessness, and it became a battle that she too needed to fight. She believes it was at this time she found her calling.

SHE SAYS… “My advice would be for women to remain passionate about optometry throughout your career. Be a team player, work in a collegiate and collaborative manner with compassion and professionalism not only toward your patients but staff as well. Your work and the way you work can inspire other women in optometry or in whatever their chosen field may be.”

Marisol Rodriguez, LDO, ABO-AC, NCLEC

Licensed Dispensing Optician

Costco Optical
Charlotte, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She understands that the decisions made today affect the opticians of tomorrow. If you ask her, her mission is to inspire others.”

Marisol Rodriguez is an inspiring leader who taps into the many realms of optical work. She enjoys the “mixed bag” of opportunities to problem-solve that make the day-to-day experience of opticianry exciting.

“Being of service in many facets of the industry really aligns with my personality and is quite rewarding,” she said. “What inspires me is the opportunity to keep growing.”

Rodriguez is a full-time dispensing optician, serves on the board of the North Carolina Opticians Associations (NCOA) and is an Ambassador for the National Academy of Opticianry (NAO). Always passionate about being of service to the industry, she regularly writes for 20/20 Magazine, and volunteers as a moderator and content contributor to “The Optical Guild” group on Facebook. She specializes in advocacy, education and quality conversations about the future of optical care.

Even 20 years after her career began, Rodriguez still finds herself in awe of the expanse of the optical industry.

She encourages new practitioners to break free from the mindset of “minimum requirements,” instead encouraging people to go for advanced certifications and master designations. Rodriguez leads by example—she continues to educate herself by reading two to four new articles every month, writing articles, supporting local seminars, and has successfully achieved advanced certifications and promotions herself. She challenges other women in the optical field to dive in and expand their skill sets by doing the same.

SHE SAYS… “To really make a difference, I practice proactive vulnerability—getting out of my own way. I encourage others to stay abreast with the profession, and to network, network, network!”

Jennifer Tsai, OD


Line of Sight
Hudson Yards, New York

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Jennifer is making eyecare exciting and trendy for the new generation. She’s a force to be reckoned with and an inspiration for many young women both in optometry and other professions.”

After the correction of her own childhood eye conditions and needing glasses, Jennifer Tsai, OD, grew up understanding the importance of vision and how proper eyecare can make a huge difference in one’s life.

Today, she is a board-certified optometrist, and the founder of Line of Sight, a cold-start practice she launched at the onset of the pandemic in January 2020. It’s a modern concierge practice with an integrative holistic wellness approach to eyecare. Even throughout the pandemic, Dr. Tsai ensures safety, educates and expresses true concern for her patients.

“I wanted to create a reimagined and elevated eye doctor’s office,” she said. “I believe a concierge holistic approach is the future of health care, and I strive to be at the forefront of this by integrating aesthetic procedures and cosmetic treatments into my practice.”

Dr. Tsai is also a health care speaker and content creator in the field of vision and entrepreneurship. She has contributed as an eyecare expert and speaker on TV, including the Today Show, Oprah and Fox, as well as publications like Allure, Seventeen and Shape magazine. She is passionate about eyecare and wellness, and shares her expertise and personal lifestyle on social media as @drjenandjuice with her combined following of 325,000 on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

In 2021, she was an honoree on Forbes Next 1000 for inspiring young upstart entrepreneurs and small business leaders.

SHE SAYS… “Real success happens when no one else is paying attention, so if you want it—don’t ever give up!”

Ukti Vora

Regional Product Manager
Topcon Healthcare
San Jose, California

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Ukti bridges gaps to build robust telehealth solutions in the optical industry, and through her podcast, has built a community of 5,000+ eyecare professionals from around the world.”

While living in India in 2008, Ukti Vora bumped into the field of optometry by accident, but quickly fell in love with the profession. She enrolled to become an ophthalmic assistant, and later completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in optometry in India. After moving to the U.S. in 2016, she further advanced her career and reinvented herself in this country.

Over the past 12 years, she served in various roles—from being a faculty and practicing optometrist in India, to being a licensed optician in the U.S. After earning her MBA in 2018, she moved into leadership roles with several ocular telehealth companies.

Today, she’s the regional product manager for Topcon Healthcare’s Telehealth Solutions in North America—a role that enables her to pursue her passion for telehealth.

“Being part of the telehealth revolution early on, I have seen the pre- and post-COVID transition,” she said. “This experience has helped me gain deeper knowledge about the gaps, challenges and opportunities in this space.”

Along with her full-time role, Vora was the first Indian optometrist to start a podcast channel called “Nerdy Optometrist,” which aims to capture real-life stories of eyecare providers from around the world. Nerdy Optometrist has since published 53 episodes, with audiences in six continents and over 15,000 downloads across various platforms.

SHE SAYS…“I’m proud that my channel has helped several young optometrists and professionals around the world who are trying to explore different roles and opportunities in the industry.”