BOARD OF DIRECTORS     /     EXECUTIVE STAFF     /    PRESIDENT INSIGHT    /     PAST PRESIDENTS

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Board of Directors is a volunteer position, serving 3 year terms as Directors. The President, Vice President and Immediate Past President serve 2 year terms. If you would like to nominate someone for the Board of Directors (self nomination is welcomed), please click here. If you would like to nominate someone for a committee (self nomination is welcomed), please click here.

(Click on Photo for Biography)

Chair, Development and Fundraising

Barbara W. Brown, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Brown received her undergraduate degree, optometry degree and graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of Missouri at Saint Louis.  In the American Academy of Optometry, she is a fellow in the Education Section (her work was in Managing Optometric Debt). She has always been in private practice and began working with students (Admission/Financial Aid/Placement) at UMSL in 1999.  She began serving on VOSH missions through VOSH-PA in Haiti. She retired from the University in 2013 and remains in very part-time practice.

Director, Immediate Past President (2017-2019)

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI

Dr. Weiss is a partner at Millard Family Eyecare in Omaha, Nebraska and has a special interest in pediatric optometry. She is a consultant for visually impaired children in seven area school districts, and is a clinical Preceptor for students through the Pennsylvania School of Optometry.  Dr. Weiss is the current president of the Heart of America Contact Lens Society, president of Nebraska VOSH, and has participated in fifteen VOSH mission trips. She is past president of the Nebraska Optometric Association, is the founding Clinical Director for Nebraska Special Olympics/Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes, and is past president and an active member of the Millard Lions Club.

Director (2015-2021)

Robert Stein

Bob is a Senior Vice President  and the Chief Philanthropic & Managed Care Development Officer at National Vision, Inc. Bob has over 35 years of experience in the optical industry, and has been with the Company since 1992 when he joined as Director of Human Resources. In January 1993, he was appointed to Vice President, Human Resources and in 1999 he became Senior Vice President.

Bob is responsible for all managed care sales development and philanthropic efforts of National Vision. Prior to joining NVI, he worked for NuVision, Inc. and in the automotive industry.

He holds an MBA in Operations Management from the University of Michigan.

Bob is passionate about VOSH and its mission and supports VOSH/International, and all its chapters. Bob has been on several VOSH missions.

Director (2018-2021), Treasurer (2019-present)

Mark Rakoczy, OD

Dr. Rakoczy graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1981.  He was a recipient of the Alumni Award for Academic Excellence, the Faculty Award for Clinical Excellence and the Bausch & Lomb Soflens Award, 2nd Place Achievement Award.  He spent the next three years in the US Army, practicing at Fort Campbell, KY at both the Division Clinic and the hospital. He came back to his home state, Pennsylvania,  and had been in solo private practice until retiring at the end of 2018.

He has been a member of VOSH PA since 2010 and has been President since 2012. He has been on many missions to Haiti, mostly being a trip leader.  He has been an active member of the Everett Lions Club for 28 years and has served in all board positions.  He also has served on the board of the Southcentral Blind Association for over 25 years.

He enjoys exercising, fishing trips, travel and spending time with family and an explosion of grandkids. He plans to devote more time to volunteering, especially with VOSH.

Director (2018-2021)

Tracey Peterson

Director (2018-2021)

Emilee Nehring, OD

Director (2016-2019)

Mel Muchnik, PhD, FVI

Dr. Muchnik was appointed as Communications Officer to the VOSH/International Board in 2012 and elected as a Director on the Board in 2016. He has produced and organized V/I videos now in broad distribution. Dr. Muchnik chairs the Communications/Public Relations Committee, has served as a member of the VOSH Corps Committee and provides key media support for the V/I Annual meeting.  He has been on eleven VOSH missions (Bolivia four times, Cameroon, Grenada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, San Juan and New Orleans).

Dr. Muchnik was appointed Chair Emeritus in 2015 and continues as current member of the National University Technology Network Advisory Board (NUTN) where he more recently coordinated NUTN’s Global Awards program.   He is Professor Emeritus and a founding faculty member and administrator at Governors State University in the Chicago area, serving the first three Presidents, later chairing the Division of Communications while teaching courses in media and new technologies. Professor Muchnik has been a speaker on distance and blended learning in higher education at a number of conferences in Europe, Asia and Australia including keynote addresses at the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow and the International Conference on New Educational Environments at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. In 2003, he was awarded a Fulbright grant as a Senior Specialist and spent the fall of 2003 at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.

Mel’s voice has been heard at numerous running events including as the lead finish line announcer at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, one of the world marathon majors. He is also the voice of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra where he served as President of the Board and was appointed Life Director in 2016. He also has been heard previously as a journalist on National Public Radio and the Voice of America.

Dr. Muchnik received his B.S. in psychology and M.A. in Radio and Television at the University of Maryland. He served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy on board destroyers in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Red Sea. He then joined the faculty of the University of Denver where he later received his Ph.D. in Communications and Media.

Director (2018-2021)

Robert E. Molter, Jr., O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Molter was born in Southwest Lower Michigan and attended Ferris State University and subsequently The Ferris State College of Optometry (now The Michigan College of Optometry) in Big Rapids, Michigan, graduating in 1985.  He is married to Dr. Kimberly Molter, (FSCO/MCO 1988) and they have two grown children and one son-in-law.

Both Drs. Kim and Robert Molter practiced in Fort Myers, FL for the first decade of their professional lives.  Moving back to Northern Michigan in 1996, they developed several practices before retiring in 2015.  They then became adjunct clinical professors at their alma mater.  They have participated in several VOSH missions to Dominica. For the past three years, they have both served as VOSH Corps volunteers working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the Brien Holden Vision Institute as teachers at the new optometry program.  The first optometry class graduated recently and they are very happy to have been able to contribute to their success.

Dr. Molter became an Academy member in 1997, and passed the Board of Optometry certification test in 2013.  He is a past-president of the Southwest Florida Optometric Association, the Northwestern Michigan Optometric Association, and of his local Rotary Club chapter.

Director (2017-2020)

W. Howard McAlister, OD, MPH, FAAO, FVI

Dr. McAlister received his undergraduate and optometry degrees from the Ohio State University.  He was awarded a M.P.H. degree from the University of Illinois and M.A.’s in both health services management and international relations from Webster University.  In the American Academy of Optometry he is both a fellow and diplomate in the Section on Public Health and Environmental Vision.  He served for over thirty years as a commissioned officer on active and reserve duty, retiring as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.  After serving several years as an educator at the Illinois College of Optometry he joined the faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he was also a fellow of the Center for International Studies and Programs.  He retired in 2017.  Currently he serves as an adjunct professor at the Rosenberg School of Optometry at the University of the Incarnate Word.  Dr. McAlister is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Armed Forces Optometric Society, the Missouri Optometric Association, and the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.

Director (2017-2020)

John Larcabal, OD

Director (2016-2019)

Michael Ciszek, OD

Dr. Ciszek graduated cum laude from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, as a triple major in biology, pre-med, and Spanish. Combining his interests, he spent several months studying in Arequipa, Peru at the Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria.  Later, he went on to the Illinois College of Optometry where he again graduated cum laude and did his graduate thesis on HIV and contact lens wear. Areas of specialty include specialty contact lenses, ocular surface disease, and providing care to LGBTQ patients in need. His local philanthropy is highlighted by his work with Howard Brown Health Center, an organization with a mission to promote health and wellness to underserved LGBTQ patients in Chicago. He is part of a dedicated group of doctors who provide consultation services to the contact lens industry, bringing new technologies to the marketplace. He has also been published in Optometric Management Magazine.  Dr. Ciszek’s experience with VOSH began five years ago on a trip to Barranquilla Colombia. Immediately moved by the experience and the direct impact on the community, he has now been on five trips including Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Director (2018-2021)

Craig Bowen, OD

Dr. Bowen completed his undergraduate studies at Alma College in Michigan, thereafter completing his doctoral degree at Pacific University College of Optometry.  He is in private practice in Tualatin, Oregon as well maintaining teaching responsibilities at Pacific University.  Dr. Bowen is the creator of Maximeyes, an optometric management software computer system.  He enjoys clinical practice, especially connecting with patients through the examination results: not only providing thorough testing but explaining how modern treatments, procedures and materials can make patients comfortable and help them remain healthy.  His first active experience with Amigos/sVOSH was as the attending doctor during the 2015 Tanzanian trip, he returned to Tanzania in 2016 and 2017 as well as a new destination for the organization in Senegal, West Africa in 2018.  He will return to both locations during the 2018-19 academic year.  He is a member of Pacific University’s Faculty Amigos Board.  Dr. Bowen has two grown children, when not teaching & practicing, he is involved with his church, owns and shows Shetland Sheepdogs(Shelties), enjoys woodworking, landscaping and gardening, entertaining with his wife, traveling and cookings in his outdoor kitchen.

Director (2017-2020)

Jenifer Ambler, OD

Vice President (2017-2019)

J. Dan Twelker, OD, PhD

Dr. Twelker received his Doctor of Optometry from the University of California, Berkeley College of Optometry in 1992. He worked in private practice for several years before returning to obtain his Ph.D. in Vision Science from The University of California, Berkeley. Since 2002, he has been on the faculty of the University of Arizona Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science where he is an Associate Clinical Professor. He was the Site Principal Investigator for the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error from 2002 through 2012, which looked at the effect of ethnicity on eye growth and the need for spectacle correction. He was elected President of the Arizona branch of VOSH in 2015 and continues to serve in that position. In the fall of 2015, Dr. Twelker took leave of his position in Arizona to teach optometry at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Western Kenya. In 2016, Dr. Twelker was elected to the Board of Directors for VOSH International, with his main emphasis being to support and sustain optometry education efforts in developing countries such as Malawi, Kenya, and Mexico.

President (2017-2019)

Tracy L. Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI

Dr. Matchinski graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry in 1995 and completed her residency at the William Feinbloom Low Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1996.  She splits her time between The Chicago Lighthouse for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired and is on the faculty at the Illinois College of Optometry working in Low Vision Rehabilitation.  She has been practicing Low Vision Care for 18 years and has a special interest in pediatric Low Vision Rehabilitation.  Dr. Matchinski is a Low Vision Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry and has lectured both nationally and internationally on Low Vision Rehabilitation.  Dr. Matchinski is currently the Coordinator the Rosenbloom Low Vision Rehabilitation Service at the Illinois Eye Institute and the Low Vision class coordinator for third year optometry students.  She is the president of VOSH- Illinois, active in the CURE Network locally and faculty advisor to SVOSH at ICO.

EXECUTIVE STAFF

(Click on Photo for Biography)

Chair, Website Development Committee; Past Executive Director (2013-2018)

Natalie C. Venezia, FVI

Ms. Venezia is an attorney and was a partner with the law firm of Post Kirby Noonan and Sweat in San Diego, California, when she retired from the firm in December 1998. She continues to practice law selectively, primarily in the non profit issues. Ms. Venezia obtained her JD from the University of San Diego in San Diego, California and her BS degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Ms. Venezia also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from The University of San Diego and a Certificate in the Spanish Language from University of California, San Diego (Extension). Community service and volunteerism have always played an important role in Ms. Venezia’s personal and professional life. Since 2001, Ms. Venezia has led or participated in 24 VOSH missions with VOSH-Illinois and other VOSH chapters. Since May 2007, Ms. Venezia has served as an officer on the VOSH International Board, as Board Secretary, as Board Administrator, and as the Executive Director (2013-2018).  Ms. Venezia continues to serve VOSH as the Chair of the Website Development Committee. Since 2002, Ms. Venezia has also led or participated in medical missions for Operation Rainbow, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free reconstructive surgery for children with cleft deformities.

Chair, Technology Transfer Program

David Stacy, OD

Dr. Stacy graduated from Pacific University College of Optometry in 1978 after receiving his BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Arizona and serving in the United Stated Army for four and one half years. He is in private practice in Chandler, AZ. He is a member of AOA and ASOA. Dr. Stacy has served as President of the Arizona Chapter of VOSH, International for almost four years. He followed the founder of the Chapter, Dr. Ed Tuhy who provided a remarkable foundation and gathered many talented members for the Chapter. The 2013 Mission will mark a decade of service in Sonora, Mexico for the Chapter. Dr. Stacy speaks Spanish and uses the logistics he learned in the military to do his part in supporting the missions. The SVOSH, AZ Chapter, from MWU, College of Optometry, Glendale, AZ campus, has become an integral part of VOSH, AZ missions. The membership also includes several ophthalmologists who have opened a dialogue with SEE, International and the University of Arizona, Ophthalmology Department to address the possibility of supporting missions for cataract and pterygium operations. Very active Rotary and Lions Clubs in Sonora have proven to be excellent and reliable hosts and have worked beside the multitalented mission leaders to make the missions successful.

Co-Chair, VOSH Corps Committee, Past President

C. Ellis Potter, OD, FAAO, FVI

Dr. Potter, a graduate of the University of Kansas and Southern College of Optometry, is in private practice in Iola, Kansas. As a member of the Kansas Optometric Association, Dr. Potter has served on numerous committees as well as Editor of the Kansas Optometric Journal. He was recognized as Optometrist of the Year in 2006. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomat of the Primary Care Section. He is the Immediate Past Chair of the Primary Care Section. He has been active in his local Rotary club and in 2007-2008 served as District Governor of Rotary District 6110.  He is a member of the Rotary Action Group for Avoidable Blindness.  In 2008, Dr. Potter and Rotarians from his Iola club formed the Vision Quest International Foundation, whose purpose is the education and alleviation of Refractive Error Blindness. He is President of the Foundation. Dr. Potter is a member VOSH-Kansas, a Fellow of VOSH International and has led or participated in eight VOSH medical missions.

Co-Chair, VOSH Corps Committee, Past President

Greg Pearl, OD, FVI

Dr. Pearl received his doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry in 1983 and has two practices in suburban Los Angeles. Since 1993, he volunteers two half days per month at the Saban Free Clinic since and another 8-10 days each year with RAM and Care Harbor mobile clinics near Los Angeles. Dr. Pearl took his first VOSH mission to Venezuela in 1989 and was so inspired by the experience that he chartered the VOSH/California chapter later that year with several colleagues. Since then, he has led or participated on 54 weeklong VOSH/CA missions to Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador and mainland Mexico. He also flew forty weekends with the Flying Samaritans to provide optometric service to their eight rural clinics in the Mexican state of Baja Norte and started a non-profit optometric clinic in San Quintin, Baja in 1998-2000. Dr. Pearl continues to enjoy introducing optometry students to the challenges of humanitarian service on a couple of VOSH missions each year to Mexico and El Salvador. However, his greatest interest now is fundraising for Optometry Giving Sight to establish optometry schools and sustainable eye clinics in the world’s poorest countries. He helped to establish the first optometry school in Nicaragua in 2011 and currently leads efforts to develop several sustainable clinics there. He chairs the VOSH Corps program, which recruits volunteer optometrists from the US to serve as optometry professors in fledgling optometry schools in the developing world.

Chair, Newsletter Committee, Past President

Ruth S. McAndrews, OD, FVI

Dr. McAndrews is currently in private practice in Davenport, Iowa. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa and a Doctor of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry. She is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Iowa Optometric Association. Dr McAndrews was a recipient of the Iowa Young O.D. of the Year in 1982, the Iowa O.D. of the Year in 2002 and Heart of America Award 2012. She has also served on the Iowa Board of Optometry Examiners (1988-1994) and the Mississippi Valley Optometric Association (past president). Dr. McAndrews is involved in community service through the Grace Lutheran Church, community band, local business organizations, and the Iowa City Noon Lions Club. She has been involved in VOSH International, serving as its President in 2005-07. Dr. McAndrews is a Fellow of VOSH International. Dr. McAndrews has served as the treasurer and past president of VOSH/Iowa and has participated in over 30 VOSH missions.

Board Secretary

Umair Khan, OD

Umair Khan is an associate doctor of optometry at TotalVision Eye and Health Center in Newington, CT.  Dr. Khan graduated from MCPHS University, school of optometry with honors. He is a member of Beta Sigma Kappa honors society. Dr. Khan completed his undergraduate education with honors at North Carolina State University in Microbiology with a concentration in medicine and optometry.

Dr. Khan currently serves as secretary on the board of VOSH International. He is a past-president of the SVOSH chapter at MCPHS University. He has a passion to provide those who are less fortunate with vision and eye care services. As an optometry student, Dr. Khan led eye care mission trips to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua with VOSH-CT and to Moshi, Tanzania with Artists for World Peace.  Professionally, he is also a member of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association.

While away from the clinic, Dr. Khan enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Huma, who is a family nurse practitioner. They were recently blessed with a baby girl named Zoya. Umair and Huma look forward to traveling the world exploring different regions, food, and culture.

Legal Counsel

John A. Gehrig, Esq., FVI

Mr. Gehrig graduated from Harvard University in 1958 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1963, and then practiced law in Cincinnati for 19 years before moving to Florida. Arriving in Florida, he took a Masters in International Law at the University of Miami and then went to work for Orange County, Florida, where he became County Attorney. Mr. Gehrig’s first VOSH trip was with VOSH Ohio in 1995. Upon his return, he and fellow Floridian, Charlie Covington, started VOSH/Florida. Mr. Gehrig served as President of VOSH/Florida for nine years and is still a very active member. Over the last 14 years, Mr. Gehrig has participated in about twenty-five VOSH missions, John served the VOSH International Board as a Vice-President and since 2004, he has assumed the duties of General Counsel to the Board of VOSH International. Mr. Gehrig is also a VOSH Fellow. He is an active Rotarian and an Elder in his family (Presbyterian) church.

Executive Director

Maria Arce-Moreira

Maria Arce-Moreira is a Bolivian-British professional with over 20 years experience in the international development sector developed mainly with international networks of NGOs and professional associations covering project management, policy influencing and advocacy and as Executive Director.  Her working experience covers principally Latin America, Africa and Europe and a diverse range of thematic areas including environment, gender, human settlements, agriculture and health.  Her work on health issues includes sexual and reproductive health, infectious diseases, eye health and mental health.  Her interest in eye health was reinforced after her engagement with the World Council of Optometry where she led the policy influencing and strategic positioning of this professional body including the organisation of the 1st World Congress of Optometry.  Since 2014 she works as a consultant supporting UK and international NGOs with fundraising, strategic advice, governance and management.  As a socially committed citizen she is also member of the Board of Directors of Sense International, an international NGO supporting people with deafblindness and their families, and of Live at Home Scheme Northampton a local NGO supporting the elderly live independently.  Mrs Arce-Moreira holds a MSc in Urban Environmental Sciences from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

PRESIDENT'S INSIGHT

PAST PRESIDENTS

1971-78 FRANKLIN HARMS, OD* (VOSH-KANSAS)
1979-81 RUSSELL DORLAND, OD* (VOSH-MINNESOTA)
1981-83 BUD FALKENHAIN, OD, FVI (VOSH-MISSOURI)
1983-85 STEPHEN B ROSE, OD, FVI (VOSH-IOWA)
1985-87 THOMAS C HENLEY, OD, FVI (VOSH-INDIANA)
1987-89 CHARLES GRAY, OD, FVI (VOSH-NEBRASKA)
1989-91 WAYNE VANDERLEEST, OD, FVI (VOSH-IOWA)
1991-93 JIM HESS, OD, FVI (VOSH-MINNESOTA)
1993-95 PHIL FREITAG, OD* (VOSH-SOUTH DAKOTA)
1995-97 MICHEL LISTENBERGER, OD, FVI (VOSH-MICHIGAN)

1997-99 PHIL HOTTEL, OD, FVI* (VOSH-IOWA)
1999-01 JEFFREY C MARSHALL, OD, FVI (VOSH-INDIANA)
2001-03 HARRY I ZELTZER, OD, DOS, FVI, FAAO (VOSH-ONE (OF NEW ENGLAND))
2003-05 DALE K COLE, OD, FVI (VOSH-KANSAS)
2005-07 RUTH MCANDREWS, OD, FVI (VOSH-IOWA)
2007-09 LARRY HOOKWAY, OD, MS, FVI (VOSH-OHIO)
2009-11 GREG PEARL, OD, FVI (VOSH-CALIFORNIA)
2011-13 ELLIS POTTER, OD, FVI, FAAO (VOSH-KANSAS)
2013-15 DAVID MCPHILLIPS, OD, FVI, FAAO (VOSH-PENNSYLVANIA)
2015-2017 ELLEN WEISS, OD, FVI (VOSH-NEBRASKA)
*Deceased