Yvette Waddell and Amanda Davis

New leadership, and a new era, at Brien Holden

Yvette Waddell, CEO, Brien Holden Vision Institute (left) and Amanda Davis, CEO, Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation

Sydney, Australia, 16 July 2018: Brien Holden Vision Institute has announced a shift in focus to address future needs both for the ophthalmic industry and the public health sector. The shift will see a redoubling of efforts to strengthen core business – delivering optical inventions and public health solutions to the world.

Professor Kovin Naidoo has resigned as CEO of the both Institute and the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation. This allows an opportunity to create a new structure for the businesses.

The Board of the Institute announced a two-pronged approach to the development of the group’s new focus. Ms Yvette Waddell, as new CEO of the Institute, will focus on a translational research response.

The role of CEO of the Foundation has traditionally been held by the CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. In a new role, Ms Amanda Davis will take on a dedicated position of CEO to drive the public health agenda.

Professor Brian Layland, the Chair of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, says that the focus of the new CEOs will be on individual business growth that strengthens the organisations’ shared goals. He says that sustainability and expansion are high on the list for future investment. “The Institute’s new focus will be a significant undertaking for both translational research and public health but, ultimately, the two businesses will share a committed and clear vision,” says Prof Layland.

Prof Kovin Naidoo, has been a respected and valued member of the group for 20 years. He played a significant part in the development of the organisations as they set new standards in translational research, optometry education, myopia and public health. Most recently, Prof Naidoo was the Global Director of the Our Children’s Vision a campaign which he led from its inception with the support and encouragement of Brien Holden and 70 global NGO partners.

Prof Naidoo became CEO of the Institute with the sudden passing of the Institute’s founder, Prof Brien Holden, in 2015. Prof Layland says it was a difficult time during which Prof Naidoo showed courage and strength as he stabilised and grew the Institute’s complex business. “Kovin brought stability to the organisation during an emotional transition. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

New CEO for the Institute, Yvette Waddell, has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute since 2003. She replaced Professor Holden on the Board in July 2015. She has amassed an impressive track record in the ophthalmic sector in the last 20 years, spearheading licensing of intellectual property and building new business relationships with leaders of industry.

Ms Waddell heads a team of world leaders in their field, Dr Ravi C Bakaraju, Head of Research and Development, Professor Arthur Ho, Chief Scientist and Innovation Officer, Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg, Head of Myopia Program and Intellectual Property, and Associate Professor Klaus Ehrmann, Director of Technology, among them.

“The teams at Brien Holden Vision Institute have decades of experience in research and development in the area of contact lenses, spectacles and IOLs. My new role will allow the Institute to focus on those strengths to meet the needs of the industry and address the need for new products in myopia,” says Ms Waddell.

Building the greater public health response to the myopia crisis, new CEO, Amanda Davis, says the need for a global action has never been so important. “We haven’t faced a crisis in eye care that matches what we see now with myopia.”

“The good news is that with a collaborative approach and significant investment of resources, we can substantially impact the severity of the crisis,” she added. “Development of new systems of management for myopia is really just a starting point. We need global investment and a coalition approach to meet the crisis.”

Amanda Davis is a leader in the public health sector. She has been the Chief Operating Officer for the Foundation since 2006. She also currently holds the position of Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in the Western Pacific Region. She leads a strong team of over 100 educators, optometrists, public health researchers, project managers and support staff. They are a cohesive team, working in over 20 countries, who strive to bring vision correction and eye health to those who are marginalised and under-privileged in the world.

Ms Davis says that the new roles, with proven leadership from with the Institute, is a major step forward. “The new structure will create a strong, focused, agile Brien Holden Vision Institute and Foundation.”

Both Waddell and Davis were mentored by Professor Holden, who spent his career inspiring scientists and health care professionals around the world with his dream of ‘vision for everyone, everywhere’. As the guardians of the legacy of Professor Holden, and the organisations he founded, Ms Waddell says she believes the new structure supports the future of that legacy.

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About Brien Holden Vision Institute
Brien Holden Vision Institute is a non-profit, translational research, education and public health organization. It develops new solutions for vision care, especially for myopia and other refractive errors to eliminate vision impairment and avoidable blindness, thereby reducing disability and poverty. Brien Holden Vision Institute is a social enterprise, investing the revenues from its work into creating scientific solutions and developing and delivering eye care and education programs.

About Yvette Waddell MBA
Yvette Waddell is the current CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute. She was previously Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Brien Holden Vision Institute, leading the business development, finance, governance and risk functions that deliver the business’ strategic objectives. She was appointed Chief Operating Office of the Institute in 2003, following previous roles as General Manager and Executive Director. Since August 2015, while holding responsibility for operational support functions and infrastructure, Yvette has overseen commercialisation transactions and negotiations for Brien Holden Vision Institute.

Yvette replaced Professor Brien Holden on the board of Brien Holden Vision Institute in July 2015 and holds group directorships in China and USA, including Optometry Giving Sight. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and was recognized as one of the most influential women in optical in 2016, by Vision Monday, a leading optical industry journal in the USA.

Yvette is CEO of Vision CRC and was CEO of Viscorp Pty Ltd, the commercialisation company established to manage and commercialise intellectual property generated by Vision CRC programs. Yvette is a University of New South Wales Australia graduate, completing an MBA at AGSM at UNSW Business School.

About Amanda Davis
Amanda Davis is the new CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation. She was previously the Global Chief Operating Officer of the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation and has held that role since 2006. She is Director of Optometry Giving Sight and a Director of PNG Eyecare. Amanda was elected to the position of Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in the Western Pacific region in 2016 for a term of four years.

Amanda has a strong background in health and management. She has worked in a number of key management roles within the eye care sector for twenty years. She holds a Bachelor of Business and a Masters of Public Health.

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