Q&A: New AOA Board of Trustees candidates

Q&A: New AOA Board of Trustees candidates

The 2016 AOA Board of Trustee candidates, from left: Dennis Brtva, O.D., of Illinois, Jacqueline Bowen, O.D., of Colorado and Steven Reed, O.D., of Mississippi.

Excerpted from page 31 of the June 2016 edition of AOA Focus.


The House of Delegates, the legislative and policymaking body of the AOA that has helped lead the advancement of optometry for over a century—which convenes during Optometry's Meeting® this year in Boston, Massachusetts, June 29-July 3—is where the nominations, elections and installation of the AOA Board of Trustees takes place. This year, three candidates are vying to represent you on the AOA Board of Trustees.

In an interview with AOA Focus the candidates, Jacqueline Bowen, O.D., of Colorado, Dennis Brtva, O.D., of Illinois, and Steven Reed, O.D., of Mississippi, discuss the goals and challenges they see for the profession.

What unique aspect do you hope to bring to the AOA Board of Trustees?

Dr. Bowen: In addition to my leadership experience, I bring a long history of bridge-building with people inside and outside of our profession with varying lifestyles, culture, gender, generations and mode of practice. I will use my skills as a gregarious collaborator, employer, parent and community leader to be an open-minded advocate for all optometrists, carefully considering the full impact of the board's decisions.

Dr. Brtva: When elected to the AOA Board of Trustees, I'll bring a different perspective. Because my practices, though independent, are located within a corporate-affiliated setting, I understand the nuances that are associated with being a corporate-affiliated doctor of optometry. I can bring that perspective to the board when making decisions that affect all of the profession.

Dr. Reed: One unique aspect that I will bring to the board is my experience in education and academia as chair of the board at Southern College of Optometry. Serving in this position has opened my eyes to the challenges and opportunities that our students and new graduates face. This group represents the future of our profession. We must find ways to mentor our profession's next generation and to provide leadership opportunities that dovetail with their unique skills. This directly strengthens two of the vital pillars of our profession, membership and advocacy.

Why are you filing your candidacy now for the AOA Board of Trustees?

Dr. Bowen: I have, for 25 years, been in leadership training for this position! I was in leadership in my optometry school class, my local society, as a practice owner since 1993, and in my state of Colorado as a board member as president. Since 2002 I have served in the AOA volunteer structure. I have the full support of my practice and my family, and I have the experience and the skills needed to move forward in this challenging and important position.

Dr. Brtva: I'm at a time in my life and career that I have the time to dedicate to becoming an AOA trustee. I also believe that I can represent a segment of our profession, corporate-affiliated optometry, that has not had representation on the board in the past, and my election will help grow our membership within this segment by showing that the AOA Board of Trustees truly represents all of optometry.

Dr. Reed: I have been preparing to run for the AOA Board of Trustees for approximately 10 years. I believe that a candidate should be well prepared in all areas, including leadership, volunteerism, business, financial and one's personal life. In the past six months I have been blessed in that a couple of key aspects of my preparation were completed. Proverbs states, "Make hay while the sun shines." The sun is shining.

What put you on a leadership path in optometry?

Dr. Bowen: When I was a new practitioner, our Colorado Optometric Association executive director came to my city and took me to lunch. She told me she believed I would be good in a particular position, and she asked me to serve. I believe most leaders have a similar story. This is what will continue to strengthen our profession: constantly identifying new leaders and personally extending the invitation to volunteer.

Dr. Brtva: I can truthfully say if not for our local society president, the late Craig Witte, O.D., who reached out to welcome me to organized optometry when I first moved to Bloomington, Illinois, I wouldn't be seeking a position on the AOA Board of Trustees or for that matter, I would have never served in leadership within organized optometry at all. His message to me was simple, and I'll never forget it. He said, "It's not where you practice, it's how you practice that matters." It has inspired me to work hard at the local, state and national levels of organized optometry to dispel the myths of corporate-affiliated optometry and give back to the profession that I love so much.

Dr. Reed: When I graduated from optometry school and came to Mississippi to practice, the late Helen St. Clair, our executive director, gave me an opportunity to serve on the Assistance to Graduates and Undergraduates Committee. She had faith in me and my budding leadership skills. Approximately 10 years ago, Linda Ross Aldy, our current executive director, reinforced her trust in my skills and encouraged me to seek out the highest level of leadership possible. Those two people put me on, and encouraged, my current leadership path. I am extremely grateful for their mentorship.

June 20, 2016

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