VM Global Leadership Summit Speakers

Michael J. Bender
President and CEO
Eyemart Express, LLC

Michael Bender is the President and CEO of Eyemart Express, LLC, a private equity backed chain of retail optical stores based in Dallas, Texas.  Formerly, Michael was the COO, Global eCommerce for Walmart Stores, Inc., and led the strategy for an effective execution of the company’s eCommerce operations around the world. Additionally, Michael was responsible for the integration of digital commerce into new and existing formats.

Previously, Michael served as Executive Vice President and President of the Walmart West business unit of Walmart U.S. and led all aspects of the company’s business in 22 states. He was promoted to the role after serving as Senior Vice President of the Mountain division, where he was responsible for business in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  Michael joined Walmart in 2009 as a Vice President and Regional General Manager, where he was responsible for business in Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

From 2003 to 2007, Michael held several executive-level roles at Cardinal Health, Inc., including President/General Manager of the retail and alternate care business. In that role, Michael was responsible for marketing, distribution and sales of pharmaceuticals and health care supplies to U.S. pharmacies and mail-order customers along with creating a range of innovative offerings that improve supply chain delivery and pharmacy economics.

Prior to Cardinal Health, Michael served as Vice President of Store Operations for Victoria’s Secret Stores in Columbus, Ohio. There, he was responsible for all aspects of operations for more than 900 stores. Earlier in his career, he spent 14 years at Pepsi-Cola North America, where he held several executive-level positions in strategic planning, finance, operations, sales and marketing.

Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Kohl’s Inc., serving on both the Audit Committee and the Nominating/ESG Committee. Additionally, he is a board member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and a member of the Executive Leadership Council. In the past, he has also served as a member of the boards of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Valley of the Sun United Way, The Banner Health Foundation, and a Trustee of Arizona State University.

Michael graduated from Stanford University in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. 

He received a Master’s of management in finance, marketing and management policy from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in 1988.  He and his wife, Tammy, have two sons: Ryan, who recently graduated from The University of Pennsylvania, and Adam, who also just graduated from Rice University.

Brian Chou, OD, FAAO
ReVision Optometry

Dr. Brian Chou is in his 22nd year of clinical practice and directs a referral-based keratoconus and scleral lens clinic at ReVision Optometry in San Diego.  Dr. Chou frequently writes for industry publications and serves on the editorial review boards for Review of Optometry and Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses. He is also a consultant to several ophthalmic companies and an expert witness for medicolegal cases.

Chick Foxgrover
EVP, Creative Technologies & Innovation

Chick Foxgrover leads the outreach to creative technology and innovation professionals in advertising, focusing on the discovery of important advances in digital marketing.  He serves 4A’s members with creative technology insights and best practices, analyses of major technology conferences and speaks at digital and technology conferences such as CES, SXSW, Chief Digital Officer Forum.

Chick founded with member agency VMLY&R, the 4A's CX Council,a cross-industry thought leadership forum dedicated to the transformation of brand management as the convergence of experience design, marketing communications and technology.

Melissa Gonzalez
CEO, The Lion'esque Group and Principal at MG2

Continually pushing the boundaries of experiential retail, Melissa Gonzalez is an award-winning innovator, seasoned visionary, and brand storyteller. She is the CEO of The Lion’esque Group and Principal and Shareholder at MG2. Always pioneering the integration of physical environments and cutting-edge technologies she works with companies such as Ever/Body, Nordstrom, and Burrow to foster foundational consumer engagement and evolve their offering.

A passionate mentor and strategist, Melissa works hand-in-hand with clients to understand their greatest aspirations. She leads creative teams to deliver authentic solutions from concept to completion, helping clients achieve their ultimate vision. She was honored with the ‘Women In Design’ award of the year by Contract Magazine and in 2019 was recognized as one of LinkedIn as well as design:retail’s ‘Top 10 Retail Design Influencers of the Year.’ When she’s not recording podcasts or dreaming up innovative retail spaces, Melissa can be found seeking inspiration in unexpected places (like skydiving 10,000 feet above ground).

Cathy Hackl
Futurist + Chief Metaverse Officer
Futures Intelligence Group/Future Metaverse Labs

Cathy Hackl is a globally recognized tech futurist and top business executive with deep experience working in metaverse-related fields with companies like HTC VIVE, Magic Leap, and Amazon Web Services. She’s the founder of the Futures Intelligence Group where she advises Fortune 1000 and top luxury fashion brands on metaverse growth strategies, NFTs, and how to extend their brands into virtual worlds. She’s a sought-after consultant, speaker, and media personality. Hackl was recently featured in 60 Minutes+, Bloomberg and Cheddar’s coverage of the metaverse and is a contributor to Forbes. She has written two books and is writing an anticipated book on the business opportunities of the metaverse that will be published by Bloomsbury Publishing. Hackl has been dubbed the Godmother of the Metaverse and is one of the top tech voices on LinkedIn.

Mick Hall
Vice President and General Counsel
Bard Optical

Michael A. “Mick” Hall is the vice president and general counsel of Bard Optical, a retail optical chain headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, and listed among Vision Monday’s Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers. He has been associated with Bard Optical since 1981 when his mother, Diana J. Hall, and two partners purchased what was then a one-office practice. During college he worked as a part-time optician. He now oversees the day-to-day operations of the business which includes 21 retail locations and a wholesale digital lab.

Hall serves on the Steering Committee of the Optical Retail Division of The Vision Council. He is also the chair of the Optical Management Group (OMG), which is a longstanding information sharing group comprised of some of the largest optical retailers in the country. Additionally, Hall served on the board of directors and advisory board of Opti-Port, a national alliance of leading multi-office eye care providers.

Hall has a B.S. from Illinois State University and a J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law. His trial and appellate law practice spanned 20 years before joining Bard Optical.

Robin Raskin
Virtual Events Group (VEG)

Robin Raskin is the founder of Living in Digital Times a company that has produced conferences and technology shows for CES and other major venues. CTA acquired the company in 2020 and Raskin continues to consult on program development. Her newest endeavor, Solving for Tech is a consultancy that looks at virtual events. She writes a weekly column about the intersection of technology and the economy for Techonomy.

In a previous lifetime, Raskin was editor of PC Magazine, founded FamilyPC and launched YahooTech!. Author of 6 books, magazine publisher, blogger, TV and radio personality, Raskin has been at the forefront of an ever-changing topic: what it means to be digital. This year she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Consumer Technology Association.

Aaron Schubach
Chief Executive Officer

Standard Optical & Opticare Vision Services

Standard Optical was founded in Salt Lake City by Henry Schubach in 1911 after selling all his optical and jewelry inventory during a train stop in Salt Lake City on his way to California, he decided to stay in Salt Lake. His son Dick Schubach lead the company post World War II with his brother Bob Schubach. In 1987 Stephen Schubach took over as the CEO and Aaron Schubach, the 4th generation Schubach involved in the business, became the CEO officially in 2015. 

Aaron joined Standard Optical in 1999 after completing his undergraduate degree and MBA from Utah State University. He quickly grew the local family business from 14 to 17 within his first 2 years. Meanwhile, the brainchild of Richard “Dick” Schubach, Opticare of Utah had been formed as one of the country’s first vision insurance companies in 1987. Aaron took over as CEO of Opticare of Utah in 2000. Aaron grew the company more than 300%. From 2002-2011 Opticare was named one of Utah’s Top 100 fastest growing companies and now boasts enrollment of over 300,000 lives with over 800 clients in the private and public sector and over 70,000 contracted provider access points across the US.   This year Opticare of Utah rebranded as Opticare Vision Services and launched a new website with real-time quoting capabilities, an extensive broker resource hub as well as a mobile vision van and an on-site “pop-up” vision clinic for services on the campus of their larger employer clients. 

In the mid-2000’s Aaron committed to the medical model by building a state of the art laser center and Ophthalmology Center of Excellence in Holladay, Utah and hired their first employed MD. Today Standard Optical has 21 locations and one laser/medical center with 18 OD’s and 3 MD’s on staff company wide. The business performs around 900 LASIK and 650 cataracts per year.

In late 2019 Schubach embarked on an entire management reorganization which included revamping the staff compensation model to sharply focus on the patient experience, which they coined The Spectacular Experience. NPS has improved every month since October of 1999 in all 21 locations. Schubach and his team has implemented a range of new services and technologies to enhance their own decision-making and improve patient experience. 

This year Opticare of Utah rebranded as Opticare Vision Services and launched a new website with real-time quoting capabilities, an extensive broker resource hub as well as a mobile vision van and an on-site “pop-up” vision clinic for services on the campus of their larger employer clients. 

Aaron is a founding member of Opti-Port, LLC (now owned by Essilor). He is currently a member of Optical Management Group (OMG), an information sharing study group comprised of similar sized practices in non-geographic competing regions. The business has been listed in Vision Monday’s Top 50 for decades and he was featured in Vision Monday’s Top 40 Under 40 in the mid-2000’s. Standard Optical has done 2 acquisitions this year in Utah and plans to add 3-5 locations via acquisition and 2-3 De Novo locations in downtown Salt Lake City and a specialty store in the new Salt Lake International Airport, in the next 12 months or so.