AOA Announces Interim Staff Leadership

Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Mo. (Dec. 19, 2013)−The Board of Trustees of the American Optometric Association (AOA) has named Jon Hymes as interim executive director and Renee Brauns as interim deputy executive director, according to Mitchell T. Munson, O.D., AOA president.

For the last nine years, Hymes has served as director of the organization's Washington, DC office, the base of operations for its widely recognized federal, state and third-party advocacy teams.

Brauns joined the AOA in 1999 and has been Chief Operating Officer since 2010, overseeing the seven groups and centers based at the headquarters in St. Louis.

"Jon Hymes and Renee Brauns are respected, resolute and proven leaders who have served our AOA and our profession with distinction for many years," said Dr. Munson. "Their in-depth knowledge of the organization, broad executive experience and unique understanding of optometry's essential and expanding role in health care will ensure that the AOA continues to position our members to thrive and succeed."

Jon Hymes joined the AOA in 2005 as Washington Office Director, and has been the organization's lead advocacy strategist through a period of significant activity in health care policy and notable legislative and regulatory wins for optometry. In 2012, the AOA was recognized in a survey of Washington, DC insiders for having one of the most effective and respected advocacy operations in the nation's capital. At the 2013 AOA House of Delegates meeting, Jon accepted an award on behalf of his staff colleagues presented by the Southern Caucus that cited the AOA's advocacy achievements. Hymes spent a decade on Capitol Hill as a Congressional chief of staff and legislative and communications aide. For five years, he served on the staff of Rep. Norman Lent of New York, then the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the U.S. House panel with wide-ranging jurisdiction over health care policy. Jon is a graduate of Syracuse University.

Renee Brauns joined the AOA 15 years ago as part of the Industry Relations Center. Since taking the helm as COO she has provided leadership for the development and implementation of strategies aimed at enhancing member services and resources. A champion of the team approach, Brauns, who has a degree in Business Management, is known for her dedication to the best interests of members. In 2013 she was honored as one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in the Executive Suite.

The interim appointment of Hymes and Brauns takes effect with the departure of Dr. Barry Barresi, who is leaving the AOA to join Clinical Integration Partners.

The AOA plans to undertake a thorough search to select a permanent executive director.

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit

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