Thomas Departs as VCA Executive
Washington, D.C. (September 5, 2006) – William C. Thomas, executive vice president and CEO of the Vision Council of America (VCA), steps down this month after successfully leading the organization for 10 years. During his tenure at VCA, Thomas played an instrumental role in the growth of the organization.
Since 1999, when VCA was formed as a result of the merger of the Vision Industry Council of America and the Optical Manufacturers Association, VCA has experienced a 300 percent increase in membership while almost doubling its assets. Beginning with just 59 members, today VCA membership comprises over 235 U.S. and internationally-based optical companies. Under Thomas, the organization welcomed the Anti-reflective, Low Vision, Optical Product Code and the Polycarbonate Councils into VCA.
Also during this time, VCA expanded its benefits and services to meet the needs of its members; in particular, its vision industry data and statistics. On behalf of its members, VCA also played an active role in the development of eyewear standards through the American National Standards Institute and International Standards Organization, including the Data Communication Standard - the world wide standard for the interoperability of equipment within the laboratory.
Working with Reed Exhibitions, VCA enhanced the International Vision Expo tradeshows, attracting more than 30,000 attendees and educating over 8,000 conferees annually. As a result, International Vision Expos have become the premier trade shows for the entire optical community.
Thomas oversaw the launch of Check Yearly. See Clearly., a campaign funded by International Vision Expos to increase public awareness about the importance of regular eye exams. Since its inception in 2002, Check Yearly has educated more than 10 million Americans and has been utilized in many other countries.
VCA also aims to educate Americans about the fashion and lifestyle aspects of eyewear. Through its Eyecessorize campaign, VCA has worked with media outlets across the nation to promote eyewear as a “must-have” fashion accessory and has reached millions of Americans with its messages.
In addition, Thomas provided direction for VCA’s advocacy initiatives. In 2003, VCA helped introduce federal legislation to improve children’s vision care and has since worked to build a strong coalition for the legislation. VCA worked with states to promote screening and eye exam legislation and created VisionPAC, a political action committee to support candidates who support vision care legislation.
Throughout the optical community, Thomas worked to find common ground to promote the eyewear and eyecare industry. VCA has partnered with many other vision organizations to reach this goal, including the American Optometric Association, the Optical Laboratories Association, the Sunglass Association of America and the European Federation of Precision Mechanical and Optical Industries (EUROM).
“It was a great ride and a real pleasure to be the first CEO and to work at VCA over the last 10 years,” noted Thomas. “VCA has great staff; concerned, supportive and participative volunteers; and a real reason for being – to grow the eyewear and eyecare industry. Together we have done a lot for VCA, the members and the industry. VCA is poised and ready to continue to work on behalf of its members and the industry. Don’t lose the focus.”