Mentors

By



Camille Cohen, OD

Optometrist
Pearle Vision
Brooklyn, New York


CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She isn’t interested in having thousands of followers on social media; she’s simply interested in helping other minority students succeed. She is always available to the students who need her and provides great advice and motivation.”


Dr. Camille Cohen is a private practice owner in Brooklyn, New York, juggling the roles of doctor and office manager, and working tirelessly to provide the best care for her patients. Yet, she’s also heavily involved in the National Optometric Association (NOA), where she spearheads the initiative to help fourth-year and post-graduate students who are having difficulty passing boards.

As the NOA Tutoring Committee Chair, she has brought mental health to the forefront and enabled students to have access to clinical psychologists, as they tackle test anxiety and common study tips. She’s highly motivated to help minority optometry students pass their boards.

Many doctors, once they have graduated, forget what it was like as a student, but Dr. Cohen hasn’t. She’s always available to students who need her, and consistently provides great advice and motivation.

“Right now, my involvement with the NOA Tutoring Committee has been the most fulfilling project for me. I know how these students feel because I was in their position. It’s difficult feeling alone and dejected. Speaking to these young doctors one on one reaffirms my purpose. I can use my past experience with boards to hopefully guide them to their upcoming success.”

Dr. Cohen’s greatest strength is her genuine care for the needs of others. She excels because that compassion shines through.

SHE SAYS… “Make a plan outlining what you want for your life. Write it down. Take the steps toward the dreams that frighten you. Then watch them unfold.”


Deborah Kotob

Director of Education and Training Development
Jobson Health Information
Hopkinton, Massachusetts


CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Her insights into optics, especially new technologies, make the information easy to understand and embrace. Deb is dedicated to educating all opticians, from novices to those with years of experience. She shares her passion and excitement for the field in a way that ignites those feelings in others.”


Deborah Kotob creates continuing education courses, editorial content and oversees 20/20 Magazine’s educational content for Pro to Pro. She considers her major accomplishment at Jobson to be enhancing the 20/20 Pro to Pro education learner experience while adding value for the CE sponsors.

She said, “Learners, especially younger generations, are seeking digital interactive online options, accessible from their devices, whether tablets, phones, or laptops. 20/20 Pro to Pro CE sponsors receive the added value option of presenting education on their new technology via an interactive and responsive online delivery platform.”

Kotob got her start in optical as a Giorgio Armani frame representative for Luxottica, in San Diego. She went on to owning and operating two high-end optical boutiques, which she sold. She said, “My experience in frame sales and retail/business ownership paved the way for over 10 years with Vision Ease, which ignited two things in me: My love of optics and my love of training and content development.”

When it comes to manangement style Kotob takes her cue from the book titled “Multipliers - How the best leaders make everyone smarter” by Liz Wiseman. “The author describes the difference between leaders that are diminishers versus those that are multipliers. Multipliers ‘amplify the smarts and capabilities of others.’ Suppose all managers thought like mentors, helping others fulfill their potential—imagine the untapped talent that would bloom.”

SHE SAYS… “My favorite signature quotes include, ‘Worry is a debt paid before it’s due’ (Confucius). ‘The answer is always NO if you never ask.’ (Author unknown) and ‘Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.’ (Albert Einstein)”



Toni McElroy

Divisional VP – West
Marchon Eyewear
Seattle, Washington


CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Toni has been with Marchon for 25 years in various roles from sales rep to her current position as divisional vice president for the West region. She is a strong team builder and motivator for her teams leading them to consistent growth each year.


Toni McElroy leads the West region for Marchon which consists of 80 sales reps and five regional vice presidents. One of her biggest assets is her ability to build strong relationships with each person and get them to realize their potential. Her interpersonal skills have propelled her to help develop these teams to produce amazing results each year.

McElroy began her career at Nordstom where she quickly moved up to department manager and buyer. She always was aware of the value of offering excellent customer service and she went on to work for Ray Ban and then B+L as a trainer. She then moved to Marchon and began a 25-year career starting as a rep and moving up to district manager, key accounts manager and now she is a divisional vice president.

When it comes to managing people, McElroy believes you need to, “Get to know them and understand how they think. Listen, support, coach. Empower them to do their job and try new things. Then plan for change and be ready.

McElroy has a strong passion for fashion in eyewear and has been very influential in working with Marchon’s brand teams to develop new products and styling along with helping to create a new brand rating system in the US. She said, “I love the blend of fashion and health care. It just doesn’t get any better and there is so much opportunity for women. You need to know all aspects of this business and be looking for new ways of doing business. Get ahead of it!”

SHE SAYS… “It takes courage to let go of the familiar and embrace the new. Put on your seat belt because here we go!”


Heidi Orlando

Northeast Regional Sales Manager
WestGroupe USA
Plattsburgh, New York


CHOSEN BECAUSE… “The ongoing growth and success of [early-stage career women within WestGroupe] is partly due to Heidi’s caring actions and mentoring abilities.”


As the Northeast regional sales manager for WestGroupe USA, Heidi Orlando is responsible for guiding, training and motivating a team of 14 sales representatives to achieve and surpass their sales objectives. She is known as a true champion of the WestGroupe culture and instills in her team the importance of superior customer service and going the extra mile for customers.

This passion has led to several awards over her 20-year sales career, including President’s Circle Award (during her time with Luxottica). With WestGroupe, she was named Sales Representative of the Year in 2016 before being promoted to her current position in 2017.

But Orlando’s personal mission goes far beyond sales awards.

As she moved from sales representative into a leadership role, Orlando took it upon herself to begin mentoring a group of young women within WestGroupe who were in the early stages of their career. Although they were based across the country, Orlando made it a point to bring them together at national sales events so they could begin to build a support network within the company.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, she has hosted numerous Zoom meetings with these women to ensure they could maintain their supportive network, enjoy a forum to discuss business ideas.

“My entire sales team is poised and ready each day with the enthusiasm and desire to make themselves, their customers and WestGroupe the best they can be.”

SHE SAYS… “Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Find your people and challenge yourself to learn from them each day.”


Jennifer Palombi, OD, FAAO

Senior Manager, Professional Education & Development
CooperVision
Victor, New York


CHOSEN BECAUSE…“The word ‘mentor’ typically conjures up the image of a one-to-one relationship between two people, in which one bestows her wisdom on another using experience to drive the other’s personal and professional growth. Dr. Jennifer Palombi certainly held that role for many optometry students during her years in practice, as she influenced future practitioners—one at a time. Now at CooperVision, she is still very much a mentor, yet in an entirely new way.”


Jennifer Palombi, OD, FAAO, said she has been “fortunate at every stage of my career to be surrounded by people who have willingly given of their time to teach me anything I want or need to know.” She noted, in particular, two medical professionals who have had an oversized influence: Walter Hartel, MD, a neuro-ophthalmologist who, in the midst of crushingly busy days, never thought twice about pausing to talk through a case or share his insights, and Michele Andrews, OD, at CooperVision, whose feedback and thought-provoking questions have led to better understanding and insights.

“So, any time I see an opportunity to provide that same kind of peer-to-peer support for others, I seize it, because I know from my own experience how meaningful that mentorship can be,” she noted.

Dr. Palombi graduated from The Ohio State University College of Optometry and spent her earlier years in clinical practice, the last 10 of which were with an OD/MD group where she concentrated on neuro-ophthalmic disease and specialty contact lenses.

In 2017, she transitioned from clinical practice to CooperVision, where she now leads communication and education initiatives related to the CooperVision portfolio of products and services. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Ohio Optometric Association, the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Health Communication.

SHE SAYS… “In this industry, no matter what we do or how we do it, we must remain focused on WHY we do it—and that is to improve patient outcomes. That’s true no matter what area of the industry we work in.” from direct patient care to the manufacturing of optical and medical devices to research and education.”