Incoming AOA chief follows in footsteps

June 1, 2012

When Houston practitioner Ron Hopping, OD, MPH, FAAO, is sworn in as AOA president at Optometry's Meeting in Chicago, he will become the first optometrist ever to follow his father, Richard L. Hopping, OD, into that office.

"He has been a great inspiration for me and many others," the incoming president said of his father, a long-time president of the Southern California College of Optometry who served at the AOA's helm in 1970. That inspiration includes encouraging the younger Dr. Hopping to go into optometry in the first place.

Rising through the ranks

It wasn't long before the AOA invited him to chair its Communications Committee and later its Membership Group. Along the way, he satisfied the criteria of an American Academy of Optometry Diplomate in Cornea and Contact Lenses.

A competitive edge

The former scholar-athlete-from elementary school through college he played football, baseball, soccer, and lacrosse, as well as wrestling and track-embraces the challenges of today's AOA. "I will work to help my profession better understand that we will only be successful-and we have been very successful-if we all work together," he said.

The Ohio native and former international boys choir singer-he minored in music history while majoring in chemistry as an undergraduate at Kenyon College-recognized that optometry faces uncharted waters in the wake of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"We are in the midst of revolutionary changes in our health-care system in this country," Dr. Hopping said. "No matter how the Supreme Court rules on the [ACA], change will continue to occur, and those changes will affect optometry's role in health-care delivery for many years to come. These changes will affect not only our scope of practice, but also whether or not we can continue to take care of our patients, how we take care of them, and the reimbursement that we receive."

Setting goals

Among his goals as AOA president is to encourage greater participation in the association's volunteer efforts. "The essence of these changes is to include more members in our volunteer community," Dr. Hopping said. He added that the AOA's organizational structure will be adjusted to better communicate with its affiliates.

Meanwhile, a new generation of Hopping optometrists is up and coming, as the president- elect's son Reed completes his fourth year at the University of Houston College of Optometry while another son, Grant, studies biochemistry and a pre-med/pre-optometry curriculum at Rice University. The family optometric link extends to Dr. Hopping's wife, Desiree, with whom he practices.