Saving Sight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to change lives by saving sight. Founded in 1960, Saving Sight has grown to become one of the nation’s leading eye banks and is focused on providing innovative solutions to its clinical partners. Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Saving Sight facilitates eye donation in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, impacting the lives of those both near and far through transplantation.

Saving Sight also operates a charitable Eyeglass Recycling Program. This program changes lives locally and globally. We collect used eyeglasses, prepare them for recycling, and provide them to people in need, free of charge.

Our vision is to be the global partnership model for how eye banking and charitable vision services can most effectively serve people and communities.  

Thanks to the support of our financial contributors, donor families, and volunteers, we are able to change lives by saving sight. Review our board of directors, leadership staff, and organizational history below. You can also learn how to become part of the next 50 years of saving sight at our Get Involved page.


Board of Directors

  • Larry Boettcher's picture
    CC Lion Larry Boettcher
    District 26 M-4
  • Ron Campbell's picture
    VCC Lion Ron Campbell
    District 26 M-4
  • Michael Korenfeld's picture
    Dr. Michael Korenfeld
    Community Member
  • Allen Lohsandt's picture
    Lion Allen Lohsandt
    Vice President
    District 26 M-5
  • Pat Martchink's picture
    Lion Pat Martchink
    District 26 M-2
  • Sandy McCann's picture
    PDG Sandy McCann
    District 26 M-3
  • Cassidy Obermark's picture
    Lion Dr. Cassidy Obermark, OD
    Secretary
    District 26 M-1
  • Mike Oldelehr's picture
    Lion Mike Oldelehr, CPA
    Treasurer
    District 26 M-7
  • Stuart Payne's picture
    PDG Stuart Payne
    President
    District 26 M-6
  • John Reese's picture
    PDG John Reese
    District 26 M-4
  • Dan Schoenleber's picture
    Dr. Dan Schoenleber
    Community Member


Our Leaders in Changing Lives

  Tony Bavuso, CEBT
Chief Executive Officer
 
Donna Bradford, MBA
Chief Financial Officer

Lynn Forest-Smith, CEBT
Director of Business Development

Patrick Gore, RN, CEBT
Chief Business Development Officer
Kathy Gray
Controller
Erica Green
Recovery Manager
Springfield, IL
Michelle Haider, CQM/OE
Quality Improvement Manager
Leon Hill
Recovery Manager
Kansas City, MO

Kenny Kovacs
Director of Donor Services

Annie Kuhl, MA
Chief Communications Officer
Tina Livesay, CEBT
Chief Operating Officer
Haley Lyne
Hospital Development Manager
Jenny McElhany, SPHR
Human Resources Manager
Ben Robertson
IT Administrator

Pamela Simpson, CEBT
Director of Recovery Services

Jenna Sleeper
Client Services Supervisor
Jenni Thomas, CEBT
Laboratory Manager
Kevin Wright
Business Development Manager
 
     
   

 


History

More than 55 Years of Changing Lives by Saving Sight

In 1960, the Missouri Lions joined forces with the University of Missouri-Columbia to form the Lions Eye Tissue Bank. The Lions provided financial support, and the University supplied equipment, laboratory space, and staff. This allowed the "Gift of Sight" to become available in Missouri by providing the means to donate eyes, evaluate and distribute the corneas for corneal transplant surgery and utilize non-transplantable parts of donated eyes for research and medical education.

As corneal transplant surgery moved from an experimental technique in a university setting to a fairly common surgical procedure, it was recognized that a larger, "free-standing" facility was needed to serve university and private-practice surgeons alike.

The 1970s laid the groundwork for what would eventually become Saving Sight. In 1972, The Eye Research Foundation of Missouri was formalized as a publicly owned, nonprofit organization.

In that same year, the Board of Trustees of the Bethesda Eye Foundation (BEF) in Bethesda, MD agreed to name the Eye Research Foundation of Missouri as its successor and contributed $850,000 to the newly formed organization. By 1974, the Foundation began construction on its new facility in eastern Columbia, using the BEF resources, $250,000 contributed by the Missouri Lions, and six acres of land donated by Byron and Gail Keene. The organization moved to its current location and the Missouri Lions continued to support the eye banking activities while the Foundation added several programs, such as ocular research and glaucoma screening.

At the 1987 State Convention, the Missouri Lions voted to accept financial responsibility for all programs at the Eye Research Foundation, renaming it the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.

The Foundation continued to grow throughout the years. St. Louis Children's Hospital and St. Louis-area Lions piloted an amblyopia screening program in 1995 that the Foundation then grew statewide. Today, that program is called KidSight, which operates as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit.  

In 1997, cornea donation operations expanded into central Illinois and Kansas. This prompted the creation of Heartland Lions Eye Banks, with the cooperation of the Illinois and Kansas Lions, which soon became one of the largest providers in the world of human corneas for transplantation and eye tissue for medical research. To date, Saving Sight has provided tissue for more than 40,000 cornea transplant surgeries. 

In 2013, the Board of Directors passed a motion to change the name of the organization to Saving Sight. The organization has undergone many transformations over the past 57 years, and under the strategic plan it will undergo many more, but the mission remains the same: we change lives by saving sight.