SEE International is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, where our 30-person team manages the logistics and operations for hundreds of clinics and educational opportunities around the globe every year. We’re equally proud of our world-class board of directors and network of over 650 volunteer medical professionals, who are passionate about delivering transformative eye-care to individuals in need.
Board of Directors
Scott W. Groff
Chairman of the Board
Scott Groff is the president of Repeated Signal Solutions, Inc., in Santa Barbara, CA and oversees business issues including marketing, accounting, and corporate affairs. Repeated Signal Solutions designs, builds, commissions, and maintains distributed antenna systems to improve cellular reception within buildings nationwide.
He is the former CEO, founder and inventor of VARS Video Imaging Systems, in San Jose, CA. Scott invented a network based communication product which quickly became the standard in semiconductor defect imaging. Company accolades included listing as among the top 100 fastest growing Silicon Valley companies and Semiconductor International Best Products Award. After selling the company to KLA-Tencor and leading the strategic direction of the new division he relocated to Santa Barbara, CA. As a technologist with a strong background in networks and digital communication, Scott’s interests led him to become cofounder and president of Repeated Signal Solutions in 2006.
Other philanthropic activities include participation in the UCSB Technology Management Program. Scott obtained a B.S. in Accounting from Santa Clara University.
Howard R. Hudson, CPA
Treasurer & Secretary
Howard Hudson is the Principal of Howard Hudson CPA & Company. He has a Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration from the University of Redlands, 1969. He has more than 35 years of experience in the areas of auditing, accounting and business consulting.
Jeffrey Levenson, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Jeffrey Levenson, M.D., is a board certified ophthalmologist, and medical director of Levenson Eye Associates in Jacksonville, Florida. He has an extensive history of volunteering with SEE, joining the organization in 2009. Since then, he has traveled to several clinic locations in Peru, El Salvador, and Mexico, providing free eye exams and sight-restoring surgeries to those who would otherwise not have access to proper vision care.
In addition to serving on the SEE Board of Directors as the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Levenson is a member of several local and national medical societies, and is an Associate Clinical Instructor of Ophthalmology with the University of Florida. He has served as Chief of the Section of Ophthalmology of Baptist Medical Center, and is active with several charitable medical organizations including Volunteers in Medicine, Vision is Priceless, and We Care Jacksonville. He has coordinated the Gift of Sight program in Jacksonville for over 20 years, which provides free cataract surgery to blind and medically indigent patients.
Dr. Levenson received his bachelor’s degree in Biology with honors from Princeton University. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine. He served his residency training in Ophthalmology at Emory University where he also served as Chief Resident. Dr. Levenson currently lives in Jacksonville, with his wife, Ilene. When not restoring sight, he enjoys traveling, running, mountain biking, and other outdoors activities.
TedX with Dr. Levenson
In November 2017, Dr. Levenson gave an illuminating talk at TEDx Santa Barbara. Jeff shared the story of how his life changed dramatically when he started losing his sight to cataracts. Once he received the treatment he needed to regain his sight, he became passionate about restoring sight to those without access to eye care. To do so, he needed to learn a different cataract surgery method that did not involve the technology commonly used in the United States.
Jeff reached out to SEE to learn the technique, known as Manual Small-Incision Cataract Surgery, or MSICS, which is critical to treat cataracts in humanitarian settings. Now an expert in the procedure, Dr. Levenson volunteers treating with SEE regularly, giving the gift of sight to those in need.
Watch the full TEDx talk, Ending Preventable Blindness: Reinventing Cataract Surgery below.
W. Wright Watling
W. Wright Watling is a veteran of the Central and Southern California Coast real estate world, boasting thirty-five years of experience in commercial brokerage, development, and investing in industrial, office, and retail projects. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College (BA 1972) and Dartmouth College’s MBA program (1974), Mr. Watling began his career in 1974, at the major accountancy firm Price Waterhouse. The following year, he took his first job in the nonprofit sector, serving as controller and bus manager at the American Electronics Association. From 1978-1994, he was a commercial real estate associate at Beaver-Free Corp (later renamed Pacifica). In 1994, he founded Watling Real Estate, which he heads to this day.
Mr. Watling believes very strongly in donating time and money to worthy causes, and has involved himself in multiple Santa Barbara community and philanthropic activities over the past four decades. These include the University Club of Santa Barbara (1978-94, Director 1985-87), the Valley Club of Montecito (1979-present, Director 2004-07), and as a trustee of the Hazel Heath Horton Philanthropic Trust (1982-present). He has been a donor to SEE International for almost twenty years, calling it “a terrific organization that does very important work.” In his free time, Mr. Watling enjoys golfing, hiking, or traveling whenever the opportunity arises.
George B. Primbs, MD, FACS
George B. Primbs, MD, FACS, has been a key figure at SEE International since its inception in 1974. As an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, Dr. Primbs specializes in the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy. He has provided free eye examinations for people with diabetes, and the medically underserved, through SEE’s Santa Barbara Vision Care program since the early 1980’s.
Dr. Primbs received his medical degree from UCLA School of Medicine, and completed his surgical internship at UCLA Hospital. After serving as an eye surgeon and Captain in the U.S. Air Force, he earned his ophthalmology degree from UCLA. He worked as an ophthalmologist in private practice in Santa Barbara from 1962 to 1995. He remains extremely active in nonprofit organizations, as reflected by his continued involvement with SEE International. Today, Dr. Primbs is Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA Medical Center, and a researcher at the Neuroscience Institute at University of California.
Dr. Primbs has received many prestigious awards, including: the Lions Sight and Hearing Award, in 1994; the Jules Stein Eye Institute Teaching Award at UCLA, in 2003; and, the W.D. Sansum Award for distinguished service to the community, in 2013.
Lauren Ackerman is a committed community-builder. She has been actively involved within the Napa community since 1994 and has a passion for community-building, business development, innovative education, entrepreneurship and strategic philanthropy.
Prior to her involvement with various local organizations, Ms. Ackerman had her own successful international management consulting practice from 1990 as well as a successful technology marketing organization beginning in 1982. Through her consulting practice and marketing company, Ms. Ackerman focused on business development strategies, distribution network policies and strategic marketing for over 75 corporations, including companies such as PacifiCare, Philips Electronics, Sun Microsystems, HP, Sony, Toshiba, Motorola and several others. When her company was sold in 1988, Ms. Ackerman moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Southern California.
Within the non-profit community of Napa County and the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Ackerman has served in various board or committee capacities with ten non-profit organizations and one for-profit board. These include Justin-Siena High School; Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts; the Napa Valley Community Foundation; the Napa Valley Film Festival (Governance Chair), and the Institute of International Education (IIE). Ms. Ackerman is also a former director of North Bay Bancorp, the largest publicly traded community bank within Napa and Solano counties at the time.
Currently, Ms. Ackerman serves on the boards of Di Rosa (Development Chair), a Bay Area art museum that supports emerging artists and SEE International. Ms. Ackerman is also on the advisory committee for 3Strands, based in Sacramento, addressing global human trafficking issues.
Ms. Ackerman earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Public Relations) and her graduate degree from Pepperdine University (MBA with emphasis on strategic marketing). She is a frequent speaker at community events and panels related to philanthropic issues.
Ms. Ackerman resides in Napa, CA. She owns and manages Ackerman Family Vineyards, a boutique producer of cabernet sauvignon since 1995. She also is the owner of Ackerman Heritage House, an 1888 Queen Anne Victorian manor that she restored over five years and uses for wine and food related events. Ms. Ackerman enjoys travel, sailing, horseback riding and hiking.
Andrew Butcher has spent over 40 years in the media business. His experience with Ogilvy & Mather, DDB, Media Buying Services, ICG which he sold to Carat, and now MBMG, has earned him a lifetime’s worth of knowledge around the planning and strategizing necessary to skillfully bring one’s message to as great an audience as possible. Mr. Butcher’s accounts have included UCLA Health, The General Insurance, and Jack In The Box Restaurants.
Outside of his professional life, Mr. Butcher is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Founding Sponsor of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Supporter of UCSB Arts and Lectures, CAMA, The Lobero Theater, The Dream Foundation, The Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Brubeck Society.
John I. Crowder, MD
John Crowder, M.D., is a graduate of Stanford Medical School. He was Board Certified in Ophthalmology in 1964, and later that year began his ophthalmic career at Sansum Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, California, specializing in cataract surgery, retinal surgery, oculoplastic surgery, glaucoma, and diseases of the eye.
In 1964, Dr. Crowder also became a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which he continues to participate in to this day. From 1968 to 1985, Dr. Crowder served as the Associate Examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology in San Francisco, California . He retired from surgical practice in 1998.
He served as past president of Santa Barbara Eye Society, and past board member of Sansum Medical Clinic. Previously, he completed two years in service as Chief of Ophthalmology and Captain in the U.S. Air Force. While an undergraduate at Stanford University he lettered in varsity track, and remains an active sailor.
Kenneth D. Gack, Esq.
Kenneth Gack has been a member of the California Bar since 1976, and a resident of Sonoma County since 1978. Ken joined JAMS (Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services) in 1996. JAMS is the the largest Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider in the United States with 24 offices nationwide. Prior to joining JAMS, Ken had a private ADR practice for several years, and before that, he founded and was managing partner of a law firm where he handled a variety of cases including business litigation, construction, agribusiness, real property, and personal injury matters.
As an arbitrator, mediator, judge pro tem and special master/discovery referee, Ken is praised by his clients for his thorough preparation, quick grasp of complex facts, and his ability to relate to all parties. With a keen focus, Ken is able to resolve underlying insurance coverage, liability and indemnity issues that arise in business, professional liability, healthcare and personal injury cases. Mr. Gack is frequently requested lecturer on ADR and civil litigation. has been recognized as a ADR Northern California Super Lawyer, by San Francisco Magazine, 2006-2013 and as a “Top Neutral,” Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013.
Prior to joining the SEE International Board of Directors, Ken served as President and Board Member of the Legal Aid of Sonoma County from 2010-2012.
Randall Goodman, MD
Randall Goodman, M.D., is a board-certified ophthalmologist at the Santa Maria-based Shepard Eye Center. Dr. Goodman frequently volunteers with SEE to Vanua Levu, Fiji, where he holds clinics for people who would not otherwise have access to vision care. His clinics typically last for five days, serving over 200 patients and performing surgery for 50-60 patients suffering from cataracts.
Prior to joining Shepard Eye Center, Dr. Goodman served as Chief of Ophthalmology at the United States Air Force and Veteran’s Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. He received his Medical Doctor degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine. After serving for two years as an Air Force flight surgeon, he completed his ophthalmology residency at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center.
Dr. Goodman is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He and his family also enjoy hiking, traveling and time spent together.
Joseph K. Hopkins
Joseph Hopkins is a thought leader in AI, blockchain, authentication, quantum and data security technologies, and leads an innovative technology advisory and IP valuation services firm. Additionally, he serves as the senior managing partner of a proprietary first-mover advantage technology incubation accelerator Fund that concentrates on growth opportunities in emerging deep technology markets to mitigate the exploitation of data privacy and data rights breaches. Joseph has also authored key patents about network security, identity verification, content security, as well as network tracking/use verification.
Joseph serves as a judge, expert and speaker for United Nations (UN) AI for Good Innovation Factory project, whereby deep tech start-ups participate in live pitch sessions to help accelerate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, he is also a participant with the AI SME with City.AI where the group identify needs which apply to AI ecosystems globally and set up various initiatives that foster the democratization of the design, development and use of AI.
Prior to his deep technology and data security areas of interest, Joseph served in key executive management roles for Fortune 500 companies, including Kaiser Permanente, 3M, GSK, Allergan, and KPMG. His experience represents over 20 plus years of entrepreneurship, technology, global operations management and business development responsibilities largely within the Healthcare and Life Sciences industry.
Brian Kelly has many years of expertise as a computer scientist, technology consultant, aviation consultant and vintner. He has been an active member on the Board of SEE International for over 13 years. Brian is married with four children and is actively involved in multiple non-profit organizations.
Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from Point Loma Nazarene University in History and Political Science. He holds a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in aviation and a Master of Aeronautical Science with a specialization in operations from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air War College.
Michael J. Paveloff, MD, FACS
Michael Paveloff, M.D., FACS, is a Board Certified ophthalmologist. He has practiced eye care in the Santa Barbara community since 1996. A leading innovator in cataract surgery, he was the first surgeon in Santa Barbara to implant the ReSTOR multifocal lens. Dr. Paveloff offers the latest in multifocal and accommodative lenses to cataract and presbyopic patients in Santa Barbara County, as well as around the world with SEE International.
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors at SEE International, Dr. Paveloff is trained and certified to perform laser vision correction for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism with the very latest technologies including CustomVue and IntraLase. Among the first surgeons to perform LASIK in the Tri-Counties, LaserVision recently selected him as one of the top 100 LASIK surgeons in the U.S. Dr. Paveloff continues to conduct lectures nationwide on the advancements in cataract surgery and techniques in LASIK laser vision correction.
A graduate from the University of California, Irvine and Rush Medical College in Chicago, he completed his internship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. After his internship, Dr. Paveloff completed a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Chicago, during which he was honored with the prestigious Harvey Z. Klein Award for Excellence in Patient Care.
Dante J. Pieramici, MD
Dante J. Pieramici, M.D., regularly trains international ophthalmologists from underserved areas around the world. An esteemed ophthalmologist himself, he is also the Co-Director of the California Retina Research Foundation, a partner of the California Retina Consultants, Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the Doheny Eye Center in Southern California, and serves on the Board of Directors at SEE International.
Dr. Pieramici has published over 100 articles, 16 book chapters, and has edited 3 books on retinal diseases. He lectures nationally and internationally on retinal diseases and ocular trauma. His research interests vary, and include clinical and basic science projects aimed at better understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of ocular diseases. Through these efforts, Dr. Pieramici hopes to improve treatments for patients with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular diseases, and severe ocular injuries.
In addition to his research, Dr. Pieramici has helped in the development of new surgical techniques, including limited macular translocation and 25-gauge (small incision) vitrectomy surgery. He is also involved in the development of new drug delivery techniques for various retinal vascular diseases.
Dr. Pieramici has received the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Honor Award from the American Society of Retinal Specialists. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Retina Society, the Macula Society, the American Society of Retinal Specialists, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American Society of Ocular Trauma where he serves as Vice President, and the Pan-American Ophthalmologic Society, among others. Dr. Pieramici graduated with honors from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his Ophthalmology Residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute. He has held full-time academic positions at the Yale University Eye Center and the Wilmer Eye Institute, where he served as the Assistant Chief of Service and Director of Ocular Trauma.
George Rudenauer is a leader in the fields of luxury marketing and digital communications. Former positions of prominence include Director of Public Relations & Retail Marketing – The Americas for Tiffany & Co (1997-2005); Senior Vice President & Deputy General Manager for Edelman Worldwide (July 2007-July 2008); and Vice President of Public Relations & Digital Communications for Remy Cointreau USA, Inc (Jan. 2009-April 2012). He previously studied marketing strategy at Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Patrick T. Welch
Patrick Welch joined Allergan in 1987 as a Territory Manager for Allergan Pharmaceuticals in Chicago. He was promoted in 1990 to District Manager in the New England District. His first job in the Allergan Headquarters in Irvine, Ca. was a Corporate Developmental Assignment in Sales Operations from 1993 – 1994. He was then promoted to Corporate Account Manager from 1995 – 1997, based in Minneapolis calling on PBM’s and Large Commercial Insurance Companies. From 1998 – 2000, he was moved back to Irvine for an in-house position in Managed Care called Customer Marketing PBM / HMO.
In 1999, he managed the pre-approval planning of RESTASIS® and then in 2000 Pat began as the Sr. Product Manager for LUMIGAN®, and fully developed and directed the entire Pre-approval and Launch Plan for LUMIGAN® in the U.S. with the launch exceeding all forecasted numbers. In 2002, Pat became the Director of Marketing, Glaucoma, directing the entire Glaucoma portfolio of products. In 2004, Pat was promoted to Vice President in the U.S. Managed Healthcare/Government Affairs Operation. In 2006, he moved to the Allergan Dermatology business unit where in his role as Vice President, Sales and Marketing, where he was instrumental in growing the existing business and building a strategic plan and vision.
In April of 2007, Pat was promoted to Vice President / Managing Director of Allergan Singapore – Medical Aesthetics/Neuroscience, where his major responsibilities included full Profit and Loss responsibility for 6 different business units. In 2009, Pat was promoted into the role of President & Managing Director of Allergan Korea. He effectively managed the growth of the company from US $19 Million in 2008 to US $65 Million in 2010. In late 2010, Pat moved back to the United States and assumed the role of Vice President Sales and Marketing for the U.S. Retina business unit which was newly separated from the U.S. Eye Care Division. Pat successfully managed the full Profit and Loss responsibility and accelerated clinical development projects with R&D. In 2011, Pat was assigned additional responsibilities and became the Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Allergan Medical Dermatology while continuing in his role with U.S. Retina.
Before joining Allergan, Pat was a High School teacher and an athletic coach. He earned a of Bachelor Science degree majoring in Secondary Education at the Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois via an Athletic Scholarship for Baseball. He obtained his MBA in General Management at the University of Saint Thomas, St Paul , Minnesota.
Pat and his spouse, Peggy, have been married 31 years. They have two daughters Jacqueline (27, University of Pacific 2008) and Rebecca (24, University of Pacific 2011), who both reside and work in San Francisco.
PRESIDENT / CEO
Randal Avolio, President/CEO of SEE International, is an Executive Operations Strategist who has achieved high levels of success by utilizing his operations management expertise to transform multi-million-dollar medical enterprises from underachieving organizations into state-of-the-art industry leaders.
Over a three-decade career working for several world-class medical facilities in senior management positions, Randal has learned how to consistently exceed financial targets while simultaneously creating long-term sustainability through implementation of creative and effective operations management strategies. He believes that the most enduring results come from assembling the right team of people, identifying operational inefficiencies and creating company-wide commitment to a unified, collective vision through consensus building, partnerships and mentoring.
Randal’s extensive healthcare background has provided SEE with the opportunity to explore new avenues of programmatic growth. When Randal joined SEE, it had been struggling both organizationally and financially. Collaborating with SEE’s Board of Directors, he developed a plan to stabilize and revive the organization through strategic reinvestment in its future. Since then, SEE has not only regained its financial security, but has also tripled its revenue and programmatic impact. Now Randal is preparing to lead the organization to new heights.
In response to the intensifying global epidemic of preventable blindness, SEE plans to grow exponentially over the next five years. The organization will continue to refine its sector-leading innovative educational efforts while working to expand partner capacity around the world. With an increased international presence, SEE will be uniquely positioned to broaden its global reach by providing high-quality care for many who would otherwise be forced to go without. Randal remains committed to ensuring that SEE grows efficiently and effectively to meet the challenges that lie ahead, safeguarding the organization’s global humanitarian mission as it continues to change lives around the world well into the future.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Yatzie Acosta joined SEE International in 2012 and serves as the Chief Operating Officer. She brings to SEE over 18 years of nonprofit and administrative management experience. Yatzie is passionate about her work and is dedicated to SEE’s mission of restoring sight and preventing blindness to underserved populations around the world. As a key member of the SEE leadership team, she oversees day-to-day operations and ensures the SEE team and over 600 dedicated medical volunteers have all the tools they need to succeed.
During her tenure, SEE has expanded its global reach, increased activity in US programs, and significantly increased the number of educational courses provided. In 2016, Yatzie was on the frontlines in Cambodia and witnessed first-hand, the impact that SEE’s sight-restoring work can have on the patients we serve. This trip serves as an inspiration every day, as she oversees SEE’s mission to change lives.
Scott Hickman, MD
Scott Hickman, M.D., is SEE’s Medical Director, and provides guidance in regards to medical practices and education for our Programs team. As a board-certified ophthalmologist with a master’s degree in Public Health for Eye Care from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr. Hickman has performed sight restoring surgeries in Ghana, Kenya, India, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Scott has also taught many aspiring SEE Doctors the specialized MSICS procedure, allowing more skilled doctors to go out and make an impact.
Dr. Hickman was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in Anthropology and German. After college he spent 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania, West Africa in Disease Control and Water Sanitation. He attended medical school at the University of Hawaii, completed his internship in Internal Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and received his ophthalmology training at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2016, Dr. Hickman dedicated his career to global blindness, becoming SEE’s Medical Director and taking his wife and their 3 young children to London, England to complete his master’s degree.
Dr. Hickman works remotely from Kansas (or wherever his travels take him), but he’s always around when needed. Scott is also the founder of Ad Astra Eye, a private practice in Lawrence, Kansas. Outside of work, Dr. Hickman enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and bicycling in gravel road races.
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Rachel Tennant is the Chief Development Officer at SEE International. In her role, she manages all fundraising, marketing and communications efforts of the organization. Rachel’s team plans, executes, manages and evaluates donor stewardship to effectively connect with supporters and deliver results of their impacts.
With a BS in Business from CSU Channel Islands and experience in financial and managerial development, Rachel uses her background insights to support SEE’s strategic decision-making.
VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS
Arianna Castellanos joined SEE International in January 2021 as our Vice President of Programs. Before joining the SEE team, Arianna worked at CenCal Health, a non-profit community-based health care organization administering Medi-Cal benefits through local care providers in the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Arianna has also worked for Allergan Medical’s compliance department, where she primarily focused on International dermal reporting.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University of Northridge, and currently serves on the Santa Barbara Public Health, Health Center’s board and the Board of Directors for Family Service Agency.