Press Release: The Vision Council’s First Virtual Executive Summit is Underway


Contact: Hayley Rakus

The Vision Council Shares Exclusive Insight on Direction of the Industry and Spotlight Trends for the Year Ahead; Inducts Board of Directors

Alexandria, VA – Jan. 28, 2021 – The Vision Council’s Executive Summit kicked off on Tuesday, January 26 with a welcome reception hosted by Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, and continues until Thursday, January 28. Taking place in an all-new, virtual format, the 2021 event brings together more than 200 industry leaders for three days of executive-level networking and leadership development. Designed to illuminate the state of the vision care industry, spotlight key business trends and present concrete approaches to confronting the evolving challenges of the global economy, the 2021 Executive Summit includes a robust schedule of engaging presentations, interactive panels and personalized networking sessions. During the summit, The Vision Council also inducts its 2021 Board of Directors.

“While 2020 was undoubtedly a challenging year for the vision community, we are optimistic for the future of our industry and believe an exciting path lies ahead,” said Karen Roberts, Vice President, Global Customer Enablement at Carl Zeiss Vision and new Chair of The Vision Council. “With a passionate and skilled Board of Directors in place, The Vision Council is well-positioned to continue serving our membership. As a community, we are united in our purpose to help people lead better lives through vision and good health. Together, we are confident we can lead positive change, drive industry growth and emerge even stronger from a challenging year.”

Yesterday, Wednesday, January 27, the agenda opened with The Vision Council’s Annual Business Meeting, during which the organization inducted its 2021 Board of Directors, and a State of the Industry update. Presented in a symposium-style format by industry experts across different segments of the industry, the state of the industry update provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of the industry and analysis of issues of highest priority to the industry. The Vision Council’s research team also provided a topline analysis of the latest VisionWatch data.

Next, The Vision Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force presented a first look and analysis of The Vision Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Survey results during a session titled “Opening Your Eyes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” The 2020 survey report will be released in the coming weeks.

The Vision Council’s research team then presented the first of two consumer insights sessions. The first session included an update on the studies that are being conducted on an on-going basis to monitor and track the impact of COVID-19 on patient eye exam and optical consumer purchasing behaviors.

After the consumer insights session, Reade Fahs, CEO at National Vision, Inc., moderated a keynote session—How to be Together Apartwith Priya Parker, a conflict resolution facilitator and author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters. During the session, they discussed the art of gathering and the strategies that can be employed by individuals and companies to host highly impactful in-person and virtual meetings.

Attendees also had the chance to delve deeper into their areas of interest through three different themed breakout sessions offered concurrently: Marketing Strategies; Telehealth; and Senior Leadership Tactics. The breakout sessions will be offered again today, Thursday, January 28.

Wednesday’s programming concluded with a happy hour, presented under the banner of “A Celebration of OPTImism,” and a virtual auction, all proceeds of which will go towards the Open Your Eyes Scholarship Program, a program created by The Vision Council through the Better Vision Institute to support high school students in marginalized communities throughout the United States who have an interest in pursuing a career in the optical industry. The program will support selected students through monetary scholarships to opticianry school, paid internships and mentorships. For more information on the scholarship program, click here.

The summit’s programming continues today, Thursday, January 28 with another consumer insights session led by The Vision Council’s research team during which they will present findings from a recent proprietary study covering broad healthcare behavior and consumer spending patterns during and after COVID-19. The analysis will include a comparison of eye exams to other healthcare-related exams and appointments, as well as a comparison of optical product spending to other consumer product and healthcare spending categories.

The consumer insights session will be followed by a “virtual fireside chat” featuring Emmanuel Acho, a former National Football League (NFL) linebacker, New York Times #3 Bestseller of “Uncomfortable Conversations with A Black Man” and creator of the popular video series under the same name, in conversation with three optical industry leaders: Rick Gadd, President of Essilor, North America; Thomas Swinnen, President, North America at Johnson & Johnson Vision; and Gary Black, President at Black Optical. Acho will speak with each optical leader about specific issues and opportunities related to diversity, equity and inclusion at each leader’s organization, followed by a group discussion.

Closing out the summit, Brian Beaulieu, economist and CEO of ITR Economics, will share a fiscal perspective for the future regarding how attendees can prepare their business and personal finances in 2021.

During The Vision Council’s annual Business Meeting, the following members were confirmed to The Board of Directors for a first one-year term as officers: Karen Roberts, Vice President of Carl Zeiss Vision, as Chair; Scott Shapiro, CEO of Europa Eyewear, as Vice-Chair; Dustin LaValley, Walman Optical as Secretary/Treasurer; and Ken Bradley, President of Eschenbach Optik of America, as immediate past Chair. The following member was confirmed to The Board of Directors for a second two-year term as director at large: Sherianne James, Chief Marketing Officer of Essilor of America. The following members were confirmed to serve an initial two-year term as directors at large: Ross Brownlee, CEO at Hilco Vision; Tiffanie Burkhalter, President at VSP Ventures; Kevin Cross, Vice President of Sales at Schneider Optical Machines Inc.; and Sue Downes, CEO at MyEyeDr. Additionally, Fabrizio Uguzzoni, President at Luxottica Wholesale NA, was confirmed for a one-year extension of his expiring at-large term. The complete roster for the 2021 Board of Directors can be found online at

The Vision Council’s Executive Summit will be available in an on-demand format starting Monday, February 1. The Executive Summit On-Demand will allow individuals to access select recordings from the event’s meetings and panels. Additionally, the on-demand platform allows registrants to access the platform’s networking capabilities and tools. All attendees who registered for the live event have complimentary access to the on-demand platform, while the cost for new registrants is $99 for both members of The Vision Council and non-members. More information on the on-demand platform will be announced in the coming days.

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About The Vision Council
As the vision care leader in enabling better vision for better lives, The Vision Council positions its members for success by promoting growth in the vision care industry through education, advocacy, research, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums. Furthermore, through a partnership with Think About Your Eyes, The Vision Council supports consumer education around eyewear and eyecare.

Dr. Darryl Glover
Dr. Darryl Glover is a global optometrist, speaker, entrepreneur, and social media enthusiast. He has served the optometric community for nearly twenty years and has held every position in the field including eyewear consultant, optometric technician, office manager, and optometrist.

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