When Reade Fahs, MBA, a 2021 Presidential Medal of Honor recipient, traveled the world in his mid-20s, he might not have realized how much experience he would eventually have on his resume.
“You come in contact with global poverty like you had never understood,” said Fahs. “And so, a lot of the work I do in getting eyeglasses to the world's poor relates to what I glimpsed at when I was 26.”
For the past 18 years, Fahs has been the Chief Executive Officer of National Vision Inc., one of the largest optical retailers in the country. Fahs joined Salus University as a Board of Trustees
member in 2017 and currently serves on the Institutional Advancement Committee and the Institutional Policy and Curriculum Committee.
His longtime dedication to providing eyeglasses to poor people worldwide has led him to actively serve on the board of two optically focused social enterprises for more than a decade – VisionSpring, which he also chairs, and RestoringVision.org. Together these two organizations have brought sight to more than 22 million low-income people in more than 130 countries around the world.
In a nomination written by James Konopack, PhD, dean of the University’s College of Health Sciences, Education and Rehabilitation (CHER), Dr. Konopack spotlights the huge impact of Fahs’ charitable endeavors, which include ongoing support of the University’s “Looking Out For Kids” (LOFK) charity fundraiser and the largest sponsorship in University history for the recent relaunch of the Robert E. Horne Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) for underrepresented students of color.
“Mr. Fahs has positively contributed to the Salus community through his membership on the Board of Trustees and his financial benefaction to the University,” Dr. Konopack wrote. “He is deserving of this recognition for his gifts to the University and for his capacity to positively contribute to the future, both as a donor and as someone whose leadership through civic service can serve as an example to all of us in the Salus community.”
Fahs is grateful to be a part of the University community for providing him with a vessel to learn more about various healthcare professions and further National Vision’s mission of making eyecare and eyewear more affordable and accessible to all.
“I have loved my experience at Salus,” he said. “I think it's helped me understand the concerns, desires and empathy of not just optometrists, but all of the different types of medical professionals we train at Salus.”
But when it comes to being a recipient of the prestigious presidential medal this year, Fahs summed up his feelings in one sentence that showed just how much it meant to him.
“It was one of those moments when I wished my parents were still alive,” he said.