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Meet the LEO founding board: Dr Glenda Aleman Moheeputh

Video

Glenda Aleman Moheeputh, OD, president and CEO of OK Love Myopia Control Experts in Florida, sat down with Optometry Times®' editor Kassi Jackson to talk about her role on the founding board of Latinos en Optometry (LEO).

Glenda Aleman Moheeputh, OD, president and CEO of OK Love Myopia Control Experts in Florida, sat down with Optometry Times®' editor Kassi Jackson to talk about her role on the founding board of Latinos en Optometry (LEO).

Founded by Diana Canto-Sims, OD, LEO has 5 goals:

  1. Increase the number of Latino students in optometry schools
  2. Provide resources and communication for Latinos in optometry
  3. Provide resources and communication for the eye care community who serve the Latino community
  4. Be a conduit between the Latino community and the eye care industry
  5. Provide CE to all optometry

The founding board of Latinos En Optometry includes Diana Canto-Sims, OD, CEO, Founder and Stylist of La Vida Eyewear and Co-Owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, IL; Lawrence Chavez, Founder & CEO of EveryDay Contacts; Howard Purcell, OD, President and CEO of the New England College of Optometry; Hector Santiago, OD, PhD, Professor and Director of Research Activities at Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry; Glenda Aleman Moheeputh, OD, Founder and CEO of OK Love Myopia Control Experts; Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, Senior Vice President Clinical and Professional Affairs at BostonSight; Diana Shechtman, OD, Fellow at the American Academy of Optometry and Optometric Retinal Society; and Lina Arango, OD, who currently works as an Independent Doctor with LTA Vision corporation.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Q: What does LEO represent to you?

A: LEO really represents a great opportunity for us to be able to open more doors to more Latinos.

My dear friend and colleague, Diana Canto, she is the founder of this organization. But it was crazy because I was at a different meeting, and I was thinking [how] we Latinos are underrepresented, and I reached out to her and I said, "Hey, don't you think like we are underrepresented?" And she said, "Let me tell you about LEO." And I was just like, "Oh, my God." I couldn't believe this.

So from there, I started conversation with Diana Canto, and she invited me to become part of the board. So I am extremely honored, very humbled, and I feel privileged to be able to be on the founding board of such a great organization.

I feel that LEO is something that is going to really have a significant, positive impact in the profession of optometry and it's all about really giving back to our Latino community.

The main purpose of LEO is really to increase the amount of optometrists—Latinos—in the profession; we want more Latinos to become optometrists. So we really want to reach out to students from the high school level [and] college level to just make them aware that this is such a great profession, and inviting them to join the profession.

Q: Why is LEO an important organization for the eye care industry?

A: Because, as you may know, there are a lot of Latinos in the US, and the percentage of the Latino population, it's not really being met—or matched—by the percentage of Latino optometrists.

So there is a gap between the Latino population and the amount of Latino optometrist. That's where LEO comes in. We want to lessen the gap between the population and the Latino optometrist.

Q: How do you hope to see LEO serving the community?

We want to serve both our Latino community by increasing the number of Latino optometrists, but also we want to serve and encourage our Latino students.

We want to invite them to join the profession. It's not just about getting them to join; we want to be there as a support system to guide them through the process, from learning about optometry to helping them when they have to take their OAT test, as well as their application to optometry school.

LEO hopes to be able to partner with big players in the industry for sponsorship opportunities in order to be able to provide scholarships, and be able to have different events, different venues where we can provide support to the Latino students that want to become optometrists and continue on those optometry students who are already in the optometry school.

We're also looking to support them by providing different resources, mentorship programs, and overall we just want to have wider knowledge about the Latino population and how we can better serve them and meet their needs. Because, you know, every group, every ethnicity has different needs and different ways that they approach healthcare.

So that's what we aim to do is really just educate, also, our counterpart colleagues who are not Latinos, but they might be serving in a Latino community. So we want to provide them resources and tools so they can better serve the Latino community.

Q: Why did you decide to be on the board of Latinos en Optometry?

Because of the mission—the mission and the vision of the organization, it just caught my heart.

So yes, I am really busy. and that was the first question Diana asked me. She said, "Glenda, are you sure? Because you're really busy." So I said, "Yes, of course."

You know, it's hard for all of us to come together when we have conflict for board meetings and everything, but everyone is really busy, everyone on the board. We have an amazing team, and we're all equally busy. Some of them might be busier than me, but we are all very engaged in the mission of the organization. So we are willing to put in the time and the work so that we can have an impact.

I've served on other advisory boards and a couple of other organizations, but when this one came about, I literally had to give up something else, because I just felt that this was a better calling for me. And as a Latina, I just felt that I needed to take part in this great mission.

Q: What has been the most exciting thing as LEO has come to fruition? And what are you looking most forward to?

The most exciting thing I have to say is really getting to know the rest of the board. You know, we have such an amazing like team.

We have Howard Purcell, Dr. Diana Canto, Hector Santiago. I am so humbled to be working side-by-side with one of my mentors who used to be my professor in optometry school, Dr. Diana Shechtman, great colleague like Karen Carrasquillo. So I really love the board members.

I think everyone is so compassionate and genuine and everyone has the same vision: we all want to help more Latinos. That has been the most exciting part for me so far.

And now as we're getting more organized and ready to develop the different programs in which we're going to be helping the students, it's just exciting to see the roadmap that we're going to be taking.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to be sure that we touch on?

I think I left [off] a couple of [board] members, I'm terrible with memory—Lina Arango, she's here in Miami. So we have big representation from Florida, which we should, as we have one of the largest Latino communities. And I think that's everyone.

Other than that, just looking forward to what we're planning to do, and looking forward to start implementing some of these strategies and programs, and just asking more people to join the cause and join the organization.

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