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OWA Talks Podcast — 2020


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January 2020 — Sandra Mohr & Stephanie Espinosa
Meet the OWA Podcast Hosts

Learn more about the series and our hosts.

Sandra Mohr

Sandra Mohr

Sandra Mohr currently serves as the Dean of Academic Resources and Administration at the New England College of Optometry. She is known for being a change agent in higher education institutions through engaging multiple stakeholders and investing in modern learning environments for the 21st century. She has proven talent for aligning institutional strategy and objectives with established departmental paradigms to achieve maximum faculty and student success. Sandra has earned a doctorate degree in Global Educational Leadership from Lamar University, a master's degree in Higher Educational Leadership and Administration from West Virginia University, and a master's degree in Counseling and bachelor's degree in Psychology from California University of PA.

Stephanie Espinosa

Stephanie Espinosa

Stephanie was thrown into the optical world 5 years ago when she started at a small private practice as a front desk receptionist. Having no knowledge of anything optical besides "having a lot of astigmatism," she spent her time learning the ins and outs of the optical practice. Within a year, she passed her ABOC and was a full time optician. After a brief stint at a corporate store, she joined Shamir in 2018 as an Account Executive in Southern California. Now she spends her days meeting new doctors and optical staff and helping grow practices and train about product. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her 4 kids and running a podcast with her best friend, Maddie. "I am so excited to take Tuesday Talks to the podcast format and help reach even more women in the optical industry!"

February 2020 — Sheena Taff
Preparing a Clear Path to a New York State of Mind

Sheena Taff

Mapping out your trip through the new neighborhoods of Vision Expo East. Sheena, Sandra, and Stephanie will cover what to do, who to meet, and the must attend events and trends to keep your eyes open for this year's brand new redesigned Vision Expo.

Sheena Taff, also known as @Optician.About.Town, is an award winning Licensed Optician and Optical Blogger. She runs a second generation independent optical boutique in Vancouver, Canada. Sheena has gained attention for her tenacious drive to change the perspective of the optical experience, her mission is to share the benefits of wearing quality eye wear and change the perception of what it means to wear glasses. Sheena has a monthly column in EyeCare Business magazine and is the founder of the #EyeStyleInfluencers, an industry group committed to educating peers and the public on the importance of eye health and seeing an eye care professional. On her blog she shares her fashion forward perspective and the joys of EyeStyle while focusing on the equal importance of lenses as part of the story. Sheena utilizes her role as an industry influencer, writer and speaker to share her unbridled passion for the optical industry and all the creative freedom and diverse opportunities it affords.

March 2020 — Millicent Knight, OD
Understanding the Industry with Dr. Millicent Knight

Millicent Knight, OD

Sandra and Stephanie interview Dr. Millicent Knight about all things optometry. We dive into her early beginnings in the field and talk a little bit about the direction of things moving forward.

Dr. Millicent Knight is Senior Vice President, Customer Development Group, Essilor of America . Her team aligns Eye Care Professional education, sales force training, and eye care professional relations to deliver on the Essilor mission of improving lives by improving sight. Dr. Knight represents the voice of the doctor as a member of the Leadership Team.

She has a diverse and extensive background in the eyecare industry, including hospital-based ophthalmology/optometry, owner of two optometric practices (North Shore Eye Center and Integrative Eye and Wellness Center), and a former member of Vision Source. Prior to Essilor, she was Vice President of Professional Affairs, North America at Johnson & Johnson Vision, Inc.

Knight is a member of the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA), the American Optometric Association (AOA), and the National Optometric Association (NOA), and was awarded Optometrist of the Year by both the IOA and NOA, as well as Young Optometrist of the Year by both Organizations.

April 2020 — Alessandro Baronti
The 5 Pillar Business Approach to Surviving COVID-19

Alessandro Baronti

With so much uncertainty and disruption around the current situation with COVID-19, ECPs are feeling extra-overwhelmed. From manufacturers to eye care practices, everyone has had their world turned upside down in a matter of days. But with every challenge lies an even greater opportunity. That's why, Alessandro Baronti is sharing his five pillar approach on critical tips and tools you can apply to your business so you can come out of the this stronger than ever when doors reopen. Because, we are all in this together.

Alessandro Baronti currently serves as the President and CEO of De Rigo REM, the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of Italian eyewear manufacturer, De Rigo Vision. In his current role, Baronti is responsible for overseeing the entire American team with a key focus on driving growth, profit and sustainability for the business, as well as developing and empowering the company's next generation of leaders.

Baronti brings over 30 years of optical experience. Getting his start internationally at Optyl Italia, he began his journey in the United States as a sales consultant for Luxottica Wholesale North America, moving through the organization to lead the US sales market as the Vice President of Sales for the Western region. Most recently, Baronti held the position of Vice President of Industry Relations & Education for Luxottica North America, where he was responsible for deepening the group's footprint in the market by leading the strategic direction of educational messaging and training as well as cultivating strong business partnerships with influential groups in the eye care industry. He also held an executive position at Marcolin where he served as the Vice President of Sales, playing an integral role in the development of the company's key account channels.

Through several years of studies and practices, Baronti brings a wealth of knowledge in continued education that includes a diversified list of accreditations. He is an esteemed ABO and COPE certified industry speaker, conducting countless numbers of seminars for thousands of ECPs every year.

May 2020 — Carrie Wilson
Changes in the Optometric Field and Adapting to a NEW Normal

Carrie Wilson

As the shelter-at-home restrictions begin to lift and the country opens back up, what changes might we expect to see in regard to doing business in the optical industry and how will we continue to adapt to a "new normal?" Listen to Carrie Wilson's take on this and more.

Carrie Wilson is going into her 21st year in the optical industry, and during this time, she has worked in many diverse roles, from dispensing to manufacturing and from private practice to corporate optical. She's a member of The Vision Council and its Lens Technical Committee, the ANSI committee, and is a former board member of the Contact Lens Society of America. She's the author of Introduction to Basic Optical Principles: National Opticianry Certification Exam Basic Certification-ABO, a textbook designed for the purpose of passing the ABO's National Opticianry Certification Exam. She has plans to release a text for the NCLE's Contact Lens Registery Exam later this summer. Carrie can be reached at

June 2020 — Barbara Caffery
Back to Practice: How We Will Change

Barbara Caffery

COVID-19 has forced the delivery of health care to change. The return to our clinics requires new rituals and a significant shift in our patient interactions. One of our major goals is to avoid infection and prevent the spread of infection. This requires minimal talking, covered faces and short visits. How, in this new environment, can we maintain our relationship with our patients? What is the value of our words, our facial expressions? These are the questions that will soon be answered in this pandemic world of eye care.

Dr. Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO graduated from the New England College of Optometry in 1977. In 2009, she completed her PhD programme in Vision Science at the University of Waterloo upon defending her thesis entitled Sjogren's Syndrome: A Clinical and Biochemical Analysis. Dr. Caffery practices at Toronto Eye Care in downtown Toronto and also participates in two hospital-based clinics at the University Health Network Multi-Disciplinary Sjogren's Syndrome Clinic and the Therapeutic Contact Lens Clinic at Kensington Vision and Research Centre. Her areas of expertise include dry eye disease and contact lenses. Dr. Caffery has completed several clinical trials in dry eye treatments and has also widely published in the areas of contact lenses, dry eye and Sjogren's Syndrome. She presently serves as the President of the American Academy of Optometry. She also serves on the Medical Advisory panel of the Sjogren's Society of Canada.

July 2020 — Trudi Charest
Digital Networking & Social Selling

Trudi Charest

If you are like every business owner, executive or sales person, when the lockdown happened you understood how important it was to be able to connect virtually to your patients and customers. Now virtual and digital communications are the norm. Connecting, networking and selling online will be the way of the future. What do you need to do to build a personal and business profile and where should you start?

Trudi Charest co-founded Marketing4ecps, a digital marketing agency focused on building digital advertising for optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists, in 2015. She is well known for designing, developing, and facilitating training and marketing programs for eyecare professionals across North America.

Trudi is a licensed optician with over 25 years of extensive eyecare experience. She also holds a Human Resource Management certificate from the University of Calgary. Her background includes corporate training in optical retail, territory management for Bausch & Lomb, clinical consulting with Optos, and the position of Vice President of Marketing & Training for Eye Recommend, one of Canada's leading optometric buying groups.

She is an international speaker, author, industry consultant, and business innovator.

August 2020 — Beverly Bianes
Food for Thought

Beverly Bianes

The world is dealing with a pandemic and our nation is faced with yet another challenge creating division, anger and frustration. We witnessed a man, George Floyd, die on social media. His death was followed by rioting and looting across our nation. These events broke our hearts. Many felt the need to do something. Some marched in protest. Others expressed their feelings on social media.

I turned to create OWA's "Food for Thought: Where food breaks down barriers and brings us all to the table." My vision for this platform is to welcome everyone to the table to share and experience our differences in culture, heritage and family traditions through food. As we prepare our food with love to share and nourish one another, our healing can begin.

Dr. Beverly Bianes completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego, and in 1991 received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern California College of Optometry. She was the recipient of the Bernell Clinical Excellence award. Soon after graduation, she started a private practice in San Diego with her husband, Dr. John Pack and opened a second location two years later. Dr. Bianes was an active board member of the San Diego Optometric Society where she held the position of Professional Affairs for 5 years and was a member of Vision Source for 20 years. She is currently the Director of Charitable Outreach for Total Vision LLC, a private equity company that acquired their practices 2 years ago.

Dr. Bianes has a passion for giving back to both her local community as well as to communities abroad. She has participated in several medical mission trips to the Philippines and has provided free exams and glasses to the underserved in her local community. Her efforts have been recognized by community leaders such as Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and by organizations such as the South County Economic Development Council and the Military Employer Support League. She was featured in "20/20" magazine for providing free services and materials to homeless transitional adult youth. Dr. Bianes joined the OWA in 2019 and is the creator of the new virtual event series known as "Coffee Break . . . connecting one sip at a time." She is a member of American Optometric Association, the California Optometric Association, and the San Diego County Optometric Society.

September 2020 — Erinn Morgan
Join Us For Fall's 3 Biggest Eyewear Trends

Erinn Morgan

Today, now more than ever, staying on top of current fashion + eyewear trends can give you an edge in your work in the eyewear industry. Join Erinn Morgan, Eyecare Business magazine's Editor-in-Chief + Editorial Director, to get the quick lowdown on the season's three most enticing, on-trend, and saleable eyewear trendsplus the key fashion trends they align with. She'll also share a snapshot of recovery trends in the optical market plus tips and strategies for success in today's new world.

Erinn Morgan has been covering the business and fashion trends of the optical industry for over 20 years. With a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising from Philadelphia University and a Master's Degree in Journalism from Temple University, she got her start as the Managing Editor of Accessories magazine and quickly moved on to become the Founding Editor-in-Chief of FrameBuyer magazine, published by Eyecare Business and recipient of several FOLIO magazine awards. She was then brought on to 20/20 magazine as Editor-in-Chief overseeing the launch of

After several years at Jobson, she moved over to work as the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning SoHo Style, a cutting-edge magazine that focused on the culture and style of downtown New York City. Erinn is also the author of the book Picture Yourself Going Green, the founder of the fitness- and health-focused blog, and her written work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Outside magazine, Skiing, and Bike.

October 2020 — Holly Rush
The 30in30 Challenge | Social Networking with Purpose During the Pandemic

Holly Rush

2020 has been a year of many unexpected twists and turns. At the start of the pandemic, many of us were left asking . . . what does this all mean? When will it end? Is life ever going back to normal? The lack of certainty day to day left us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. And I knew I wanted to help.

The 30in30 challenge was designed as a social networking outreach effort. The purpose was to create new connections during an unprecedented time and to help those new connections navigate uncertainty and emerge on the other side with a greater sense of clarity and calm.

To get things going, I tapped 30 colleagues in my network and asked them to introduce me to 30 people in theirs who could benefit from professional support. Whether it was careers in transition, personal branding, or strategic business questions and thought partnership, no problem was too big to tackle together. And the urgency was there to make an impact, fast. So — the goal became 30 new connections in 30 days!

What started as a relatively small outreach became much larger than I could have imagined. And the result? Meaningful connections that yielded positivity in an otherwise uncertain time.

Holly Rush has nearly 30 years of leadership experience building strong consumer brands with well-known global companies such as Luxottica, L'Oreal, and the Gillette Company. Most recently, she served as CEO for Costa del Mar, a cult brand of performance sunglasses, and before that was President of Luxottica Wholesale North America. In addition to nearly a decade in the optical industry, she has deep leadership experience in the beauty, fashion, luxury, and outdoor sectors.

She is a people and culture-first leader who is passionate about defining organizational purpose, galvanizing teams, and developing next-gen leaders, especially women. She is also an active mentor, public speaker, and non-profit board member.

Along with her husband and two (now teenage!) children, she resides in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

November 2020 — David Friedfeld
Wait, You Mean to Tell Me You Can't Do It All?

David Friedfeld

According to the 2020 McKinsey Women in the Workplace study, 865,000 women left the workforce last month, compared to only 216,000 men. Today, more than 1 in 4 women are contemplating downgrading their careers or exiting the workforce entirely.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the choices working women are having to make, America is at a turning point, where companies now risk losing not just women in general, but women in leadership positions and future female leaders, reversing years of progress towards gender diversity in our workforces.

How did we get here, and how can executive leaders create opportunity from crisis by purposely designing a more flexible and empathetic workplace in order to retain female staff, while also nurturing a culture in which women have equal opportunities to find their footing in today's climate?

David Friedfeld is President of ClearVision Optical, one of the largest family-owned eyewear distributors in North America. Based in Hauppauge, New York, ClearVision designs and distributes eyewear and sunwear for 12 distinctive brands.

David provides vision and leadership to all areas within the ClearVision organization. Under his guidance, ClearVision has received countless honors and accolades from both the eyewear industry and the business community. David has appeared on several internet radio shows, including The Growth Strategist, The CEO Show, and Power Hour. He is also a featured speaker at many industry-related events and functions.

As an organization, ClearVision has been named one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State for five years, most recently in 2020. CVO has also been recognized by New York SmartCEO as a 2016 Family Business Awards honoree. Additionally, Clearvision was recognized at the 2016 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service, receiving 2 gold and 2 silver awards, and is also ranked as one of the top five suppliers in the U.S. by Jobson Research.

In his spare time, David enjoys reading and running. He and his wife, Vicki, live on Long Island and have four children — Jake, Sam, Faith, and Lucas. Connect with David on Twitter and Instagram @OpticalBuddy.

December 2020 — Dee Carroll
UNDER THE COVERS: Trade Magazines Exposed!

Dee Carroll

Ever wonder how optical trade magazines ACTUALLY work? Join Dee Carroll, editor-in-chief of INVISION and longtime optical editor, for a no-holds-barred, fully transparent conversation on the behind-the-scenes nitty gritty on what gets in, what gets left on the editing floor . . . and why. She will address misconceptions about how trade magazines work, and how INVISION magazine — and the other optical trade magazines you know by name — function as a business, including the necessary role advertising plays. She'll address frequently asked questions about the America's Finest Optical Retailers contest and how the entire industry can get involved in it, what makes the cover, and how INVISION comes up with the stories it runs, as well as how listeners and readers can see their name in print.

Deirdre (pronounced DARE-dree) Carroll started her career in magazines 20 years ago. For the last 15, Dee has worked exclusively in optical trade publishing, first as senior editor for Vision Monday magazine for nearly 11 years, and now as the Editor-in-Chief of INVISION, the magazine for the American eyecare professional, for the last 5. Named a Rising Star in Vision Monday's Influential Woman At INVISION, she manages the monthly print magazine and its team, oversees the website and the publication's social media channels, as well as hosts an editorial podcast — In Vision with Dee Carroll — all with the single-minded goal of helping independent ECPs run of their businesses better.

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