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AOA Optometry’s Meeting 2023 introduces new president and collaborative efforts to move the profession forward

Article

The meeting took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, from June 21-24, and hosted the AOA+ experiences for students, faculty, and new doctors in the field; as well as the AOA’s single-largest annual advocacy event, AOA on Capitol Hill.

Washington DC aerial Thomas Jefferson Memorial (Adobe Stock / lunamarina)

(Adobe Stock / lunamarina)

The American Optometric Association (AOA) and American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) concluded a historic Optometry’s Meeting last month, including education, networking, advocacy, a 13% Promise signing, Eye Deserve More highlights, and Optometry’s House of Delegates.

The meeting took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, from June 21-24, and hosted the AOA+ experiences for students, faculty, and new doctors in the field; as well as the AOA’s single-largest annual advocacy event, AOA on Capitol Hill.

With something for everyone from doctors, paraoptometrics, and optometry students, over 190 educational credit hours were available over the meeting’s 4 days in the form of hands-on workshops, integrated education, panel discussions, and peer-to-peer forums.

Signing the 13% Promise

The Black EyeCare Perspective Executive team and the AOA Board of Trustees gathered together in-person for the first time, addressing action-oriented strategies to create more opportunities for Black optometrists, including steps to build a more robust applicant pool.

Photo courtesy of the American Optometric Association

Photo courtesy of the American Optometric Association

On behalf of the American Optometric Association, president Ronald L. Benner, OD, signed the 13% Promise with Black EyeCare Perspective leaders Adam Ramsey, OD, Darryl Glover, OD, Essence Johnson, OD, and Jacobi Cleaver, OD.

“This is an important moment for us because the AOA has been deliberate and thoughtful in everything we do when it comes to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our profession, today and in the future,” Benner said.

“Together in-person for the first time, we are joining the 13% Promise as part of the commitment the AOA is making to activate solutions to advance the profession. We take this partnership and our DEI work seriously, and we look forward to deeper collaboration with Black EyeCare Perspective.”

Resolutions adopted by the Board of Trustees

Four measures that will strengthen existing resolutions were passed by the AOA House of Delegates.

These measures include: 1) calling all stakeholders to evaluate the role of current health and vision plan compensation models and their roles in the future availability of high-quality patient care; 2) reaffirming AOA’s position on vision therapy as an integral part of optometric practice only to be practiced by doctors of optometry, ophthalmologists, and other qualified professionals; 3) encouraging student and new doctor attendance and membership of AOA+, AOA, and affiliate events; and 4) spotlighting AOA’s public awareness campaign, Eye Deserve More.

A fifth resolution clarifies the definition of “federal government employee,” to allow membership eligibility in the Armed Forces Optometric Society.1

Induction of newest AOA president

In addition to all the happenings on Capitol Hill, the American Optometric Association inducted its newest president. Ronald L Benner, OD, was officially recognized as the organization’s president on June 24, 2023, during Optometry’s Meeting.

Photo courtesy of the American Optometric Association

Photo courtesy of the American Optometric Association

Prior to stepping into this newest role, Benner was elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 118th AOA Congress & 45th AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting in June 2015.2 He is also past-president of the Montana Optometric Association (MOA), and has held several roles within AOA and MOA.

“As president, I will continue AOA’s mission as the only voice for the entire profession,” Benner said in a press release.

“The AOA will remain the leading and uniting force for advancement and protection of the profession. Devaluation of our care by vision plan practices, disrespect of our doctor recognition by medicine and needless mandates by overreaching government agencies will meet AOA head on this next year. We will not back down, concede or pause our advancement and expanded care for the public at the state or federal levels. Opportunities will be found to benefit all modalities of optometric practice as we continue to support our doctors nationwide.”

Benner is a graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry, and has been active in numerous civic and faith-based organizations in his community, as well as owns and operates a private practice clinic in Laurel, Montana.

Other members of the AOA Board of Trustees were also inducted during the final House of Delegates section, including:

  • Steven T. Reed, OD, (Mississippi) as president-elect;
  • Jacquie M. Bowen, OD, (Colorado) as vice president;
  • Teri K. Geist, OD, (Nebraska) as secretary-treasurer;
  • Robert C. Layman, OD, (Ohio), immediate past president;
  • Terri A. Gossard, OD, MS, (Ohio), reelected trustee;
  • Curtis A. Ono, OD, (Washington) reelected trustee
  • Tad R. Kosanovich, OD, (Florida) newly elected

Continuing their terms are Belinda R. Starkey, OD, (Arkansas), Paul M. Barney, OD, (Alaska), and Marrie S. Read, OD, MBA, (Armed Forces and Federal Optometric Services).2

Reference(s):
  1. Optometry’s Meeting® Closes Out Historic Gathering with 13% Promise Signing, Eye Deserve More Highlight and Concludes Optometry’s House of Delegates. American Optometric Academy. June 26, 2023
  2. AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., Inducted at Optometry’s Meeting. American Optometric Academy. June 26, 2023
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