Reflecting on Moments of Impact: Celebrating 20 Years and Advancing Our Global Mission

By Pelin Munis, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, RestoringVision 

As I recount the whirlwind of events from the last few weeks, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and purpose. The week of March 11 in particular marked a pivotal moment in our journey at RestoringVision, a series of milestones that not only celebrated our past achievements but also illuminated the way forward as we continue to create pathways to solve the global vision crisis. 

March 12, 2024, will forever hold a special place in my heart as we gathered to celebrate RestoringVision’s 20th anniversary and chart those pathways to solving the global vision crisis together as a community at the United Nations in New York City. The evening was imbued with a sense of camaraderie, community, and shared purpose as esteemed guests, representatives from the World Health Organization and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, leaders from the private sector, and our invaluable partners filled the room. Their presence was a testament to the collective effort and dedication that has propelled us forward over the past two decades, and from which the global momentum around this cause continues to grow. 

As the event kicked off, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride as Kevin Hassey, our esteemed Board Chair, extended a warm welcome to all attendees. His words set the tone for the evening, reminding us of the transformative impact we’ve had on 28 million lives since 2003 and the profound responsibility that lies ahead in striving to solve this crisis as a community. From catalytic donors to strategic partners, each acknowledgment underscored the power of collaboration in driving meaningful change. 

Reade Fahs, CEO of National Vision, Inc., took the stage next, sharing poignant anecdotes of our founder, Mark Sachs, and his unwavering vision for a world where everyone has access to clear vision. Reade’s words resonated deeply with me, serving as a poignant reminder of the indelible legacy that Mark has created. 

Mary Ann Peters, ambassador (ret.), former CEO of The Carter Center, and RestoringVision board member, then took center stage to honor Mark’s contributions with a Lifetime Achievement award as RestoringVision’s founder. Her words echoed the sentiments of our entire community, acknowledging Mark’s tireless dedication and the transformative impact of his vision. 

As Mark accepted the award, I reflected on the profound impact his vision has had on millions of lives around the world. His acceptance speech served as a poignant reminder of the power of one individual to ignite change and inspire others to do the same. 

As CEO of RestoringVision, I had the privilege of sharing our vision for the path ahead—a future where the global vision crisis is a thing of the past, and everyone has the opportunity to see clearly, regardless of their circumstances, location, or income. 

A highlight of the evening came when Nkatha Njeru, CEO of the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP), took the stage to share her perspective as one of our valued program partners. Her words were a poignant reminder of the impact our work has on individuals and communities across Africa, empowering people to read, work, and thrive with newfound clarity, along with the potential to scale to reach millions more in need. 

As I closed the evening, surrounded by our dedicated community of partners and donors, I couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of hope and optimism for the future. Each story shared, each accolade bestowed, served as a testament to the power of collective action and the unwavering commitment of our global community. 

But our celebrations didn’t begin there. The day prior, March 11, brought the first momentous occasion of the week as RestoringVision was invited to ring the Closing Bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square. Joined by Mark Sachs and Kevin Hassey, I had the honor of representing our organization on a global stage, symbolizing our ongoing commitment to advancing our mission, all thanks to Reade Fahs and National Vision, Inc. 

As I stood before the iconic Nasdaq tower, surrounded by the bustling energy of Times Square, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come. From humble beginnings to global recognition, our journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. But amidst the celebrations and accolades, I remain acutely aware of the challenges – and the opportunity of a lifetime – that lie ahead. 

The global vision crisis persists, affecting 1 billion around the world. As I reflect on the events of last few weeks, I’m reminded that we are not alone in this work. Together, with our partners, donors, and supporters, we have the power to effect real change and create a world where everyone has access to clear vision – all together as a unified sector and community. 

As we embark on the next chapter of our journey, shoulder to shoulder, I’m filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. The road ahead may have its challenges, but I have no doubt that together, we will overcome them. With unwavering commitment and boundless optimism, we will continue to advance our mission and bring clear vision to millions of lives around the world. 

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us and I also thank each and every one of you for your unwavering support and dedication. Together, we will build a brighter future for all, creating clear vision for everyone, everywhere. 

View images from the United Nations event.

View images from the NASDAQ event.