- We strive to provide complete care for our patients. Learn more about all the services we provide.
Meet the Staff of Washington and Vision Therapy Center!
Yakima Washington and Vision Therapy Center Staff
Dr. Benjamin Winters - Developmental Optometrist
Dr. Winters is board-certified in vision development and vision therapy. In 2010, he started a vision therapy center in Yakima, Washington. His advocacy for children that struggle with life-altering developmental vision problems has included over 100 lectures in colleges, professional groups, parent groups, and schools. He is one of the founders of Building Vision, a non-profit that raises awareness and funds for individuals struggling with these vision problems and which has given free screenings to almost 1000 children in the Yakima area.
He established the Harvest in the Heart of the Northwest Conference which is an educational seminar held biennially in Yakima, providing continuing education specific to developmental optometry. He is the clinical director of Washington Vision Therapy Center and recently served as the president of the Yakima Valley Optometric Society.
Dr. Winters and his beautiful wife Mamie have five adorable children. They enjoy spending time together, playing sports, and being in the great outdoors. Dr. Winters is a native of Washington State and is proud to be a part of the Yakima community.
Dr. Rikson Zollinger - Developmental Optometrist
Dr. Rikson Zollinger grew up in North Dakota and later received a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Physiology degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. He continued his education at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis Tennessee where he completed a specialized rotation in vision therapy with honors and received his Doctor of Optometry degree with distinction. After graduating from optometry school he returned to ND to practice, but his interest in vision therapy only continued to grow because he saw so many patients that struggled with vision issues with which vision therapy could help. He is very excited to be here in Yakima and to work with the team here at Washington Vision Therapy Center, and for the opportunity to help those that struggle with these vision problems.
Dr. Zollinger enjoys his time with his wife, Laura, and their three young children. He also enjoys racquetball, golf, and hunting.
Karen Krantz - Vision Therapy Administrator
Karen Krantz, our Vision Therapy Administrator, was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. After graduating from Washington State University in Child and Family Studies she returned to the valley and taught preschool and worked in the Migrant Child Care program for 2 years. Karen has been married for 31 years and raised 3 boys. In 1990 Yakima Valley Community College hired her as a parent educator to teach Family Life/Early Childhood Development classes and supervise the Eisenhower YVCC Parent Education Cooperative Program, which also was a lab for the high school students.
In order to continue her education she attended Heritage University and received her Master’s Degree in Education in 2001. In 2002 she was promoted to Coordinator of the YVCC Parent Education Cooperative Programs and asked to oversee the Family Resource Center on campus until 2009. Karen’s commitment to serve children and families has continued as she joined WAVTC as a Vision Therapist Administrator. She finds that educating the community about vision-related learning problems has continued to fulfill her passion for supporting families.
Outside of work, Karen spends time with her family, friends, church body, and enjoys flower gardening.
Susan Thurnau - Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Susan Thurnau, our Orientation and Mobility Specialist, was born and raised in Lynnwood, WA. After graduating from Edmonds-Woodway High School she chose to attend Central Washington University so she could participate in athletics and study Exercise Science. After swimming on the Central Washington Swim Team for two years, she became a national champion in the ASA University league. She was subsequently given the opportunity to coach CWU’s team for a two year period in which she took eleven of her swimmers to the National championship. Her enjoyment of coaching prompted her to begin teaching Physical Education classes as she completed her degree, ultimately achieving a degree in exercise Science with a minor in Athletic Training. Following her completion of classes, Susan did a six-month internship with the Kittitas Valley Community Hospital in Ellensburg, where she helped to create individualized therapy programs for children and stroke victims. She graduated in 2008, and began working as a nanny for two years looking after a toddler and an infant.
In 2012, Susan went back to school and received her masters degree in Orientation and Mobility services. She now works within the school districts surrounding Yakima helping students with significant visual impairment with white cane use and to navigating their environment safely. She is married to Todd and they have two beautiful sons, Sawyer and Tyson.
Nichole Hubbard - Billing Specialist
Nichole was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. Before working in the medical billing field, she attended YVCC studying to become a Radiology Technician. While working for a chemical dependency treatment center during college, she discovered her passion for insurance billing. Using her knowledge of billing, she worked as the main insurance specialist for a local Optometrist office for several years. She is excited to combine her previous knowledge of insurance billing with the cutting-edge field of Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation/Vision Therapy, as our Billing Specialist.
Nichole married her childhood friend, Robert, who is a Yakima Sheriff Deputy. Together, they spend their free time with their two boys, 8 year-old Christopher, and Carter who is 3, going on hikes, playing backyard football, and attending their son's Taijutsu classes.
James Smith - Certified Optometric Vision Therapist
James Smith, Certified Optometric Vision Therapist, was born in Alaska and raised in Eastern Oregon. James graduated from High School as Salutatorian in 1993. Answering a call into the ministry, James attended Bible Missionary Institute in Rock Island, Illinois. He graduated with honors and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology with an emphasis in Education. James currently enjoys working as pastor of Bible Missionary Church in Zillah. In addition to this, he is also a volunteer fire fighter with Yakima County Fire District 5. He is a Chaplain in the Lower Yakima Valley, the conductor of a homeschool Children’s Choir, and has also been the principle of a Christian Day School.
James and his beautiful wife Carmen have two wonderful boys and an adorable girl: Alex, Reagan, and Adina.
Melissa Faulk - Patient Care Coordinator
Melissa, one of our Patient Care Coordinators, was raised on a hay farm in Eastern Oregon and was homeschooled through high school, graduating via correspondence from Christian Liberty Academy out of Arlington Heights, IL. She then attended 3 years of college at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, WI, majoring in biblical counseling.
Melissa then moved to Yakima to finish school online and work as a barista for 4 years. She graduated from Liberty University online with a BS in Psychology-Crisis Counseling. She spent 2 years working in the field of chemical dependency, and is a certified Drug and Alcohol Information School instructor. Melissa enjoys working with kids and horses, swing dancing, country music, baking, boating, and spending time outside. Someday, she hopes to go back to school and get her Masters degree.
Candace Clift - Patient Care Coordinator
Candace Clift, Patient Care Coordinator, was born in Yakima, WA, but then moved to Spokane, WA, where she was raised. After graduating from Central Valley High School, she attended Spokane Community College, where she met her husband.
She and her husband were married in 1998 and have two children, Gage and Grace. She worked in the Urgent Care Centers in Spokane for the next 11 years before moving her family back to Yakima in 2011.
She really enjoys the work and the patients at The Washington Vision Therapy Center. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Karina Taylor - Exam Technician
Karina Taylor was born in Moline, Illinois, but moved to and grew up in
Yakima, Washington, with her parents and her three siblings. She attended
and graduated from Yakima Bible Missionary Church Academy. She attended the
Bible Missionary Institute in Rock Island, Illinois, for 2.5 years where
she studied music, specifically piano, organ, violin, and choir.
Karina enjoys living with and being a part of her siblings' and parents'
lives. Her hobbies include: playing music, reading, shopping, nutritional
cooking, hiking, and kayaking. Karina hopes to return to college and earn a
degree in OB sonography.
Rachel Murray - Vision Therapist
Rachel, one of our Vision Therapists, grew up in Carlsbad, California with her parents and younger
siblings. She studied French at Whitworth University in Spokane. In her free time, Rachel enjoys baking and subsequently eating everything she just baked. Rachel moved to Yakima in 2012 to be near her now-husband, whom she married in 2014. Rachel firmly believes in equipping people with the resources they need to succeed in their endeavors, and is excited to work with patients at Washington Vision Therapy Center towards that goal.
Erin Betancourt - Vision Therapist
Erin Betancourt, one of our Vision Therapists, was born and raised in Yakima. After graduating from A.C. Davis High School she moved to British Columbia, Canada, to attend Trinity Western University. Erin graduated with a BA in Intercultural Religious Studies - concentrating in inner city missions - and a minor in Political Science. Over the last 16 years Erin has worked with children in youth both professionally (mental/behavioral health services; preschool teacher) and volunteering (student ministries, mission trips to the Yakama Nation, Camp Ghormley, etc.). Her experience in working with children, youth, and adults contribute to her work here at WAVTC.
In 2010 Erin married her loving husband, Eferon Betancourt; they enjoy volunteering with the Yakima Fire Department together, and attending Sun Valley Church (where Erin services part-time as the Connection Team Director), and hanging out with friends, family, and their pets.
Beth Keckés - Vision Therapist
Beth Kecskés, one of our Vision Therapists, grew up in the Heart of the
Rockies; Helena, Montana. She has devoted the majority of her life to
learning the piano, singing, performing, composing, and passing the torch
of musical passion on to countless students.
She has spent many years teaching Elementary Music, piano and voice, as
well as directing choral music and playing the piano for various churches.
Because of her passion for working with young people and her love of
children, Beth decided vision therapy would be an amazing and fulfilling
career to incorporate all her skills and get to make a huge and positive
impact in the lives of many.
Beth lives in Yakima with her 2 wonderful kids, Luke and Emma.
If she had copious amounts of free time, she would love to fill it with
travel adventures, reading more enlightening books, developing insanely
yummy recipes, running, weight lifting, being involved in the local
community theatre and gardening.
Melody Delamarter - Vision Therapist
Melody Delamarter moved to Yakima in 2013 with her parents and three younger siblings. While she has lived all over the country, Washington has her heart and she proudly claims Yakima as her hometown. She was homeschooled K-12 and graduated from Yakima Valley Community College in 2015 with an associate of arts degree. Melody loves working with children and has had opportunity to do so in a variety of different ways, including nine months as a live-in nanny. She is excited about the field of vision therapy as a way of serving her local community and making the lives of patients (especially children) better.
Melody enjoys spending time with her family, attending Sun Valley Church,
exploring the Pacific Northwest, reading books, and cooking. She lives with
her parents, three sisters, and a very lazy dog.