Annual American Optometric Association Award Winners

Congratulations to AOA’s 2022 award winners

The AOA is proud to honor seven members with its prestigious awards and thanks its longstanding Visionary Supporter Johnson & Johnson Vision for their recognition of these exemplary individuals. The generous support of AOA's industry partners makes it possible to honor its outstanding members.

2022 Distinguished Service Award

Capt. Dawn Clary, O.D. Capt. Dawn Clary, O.D.

Capt. Clary received her Doctorate of Optometry from Pacific University College of Optometry in 1994.  She started her career with the Indian Health Service in Gallup, New Mexico, at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in July of 1994 and served as staff optometrist until her transfer to the Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC) in 1997. At PIMC, Capt. Clary has served as a staff optometrist, chief of optometry, area chief of optometry, IHS chief clinical consultant for optometry and director of the IHS/JVN teleophthalmology program. She has presented multiple lectures, posters and panel discussions concerning diabetic retinopathy. Currently, she is director of the IHS/JVN Teleophthalmology National Reading Center, a national screening and diagnostic program that increases access to care for AI/AN diabetic patients. This nationwide program includes over 100 sites within 24 states and involves the deployment of digital imaging technology to both rural and urban underserved communities. Capt. Clary advocates for all PHS/IHS optometrists in her role as chief clinical consultant. She continues to work on recruitment and retention of qualified optometrists, assist with the loan repayment and scholarship programs, and the organization of national educational programs.




2022 Optometrist of the Year

Jeffrey Michaels, O.D.Jeffrey Michaels, O.D.

Dr. Michaels is a practicing doctor of optometry and co-owner of a group practice in Richmond, Virginia. During the COVID pandemic he presented 8 COVID relief webinars for AOA members helping optometrists across the country receive a collective $1.6 billion to maintain their practices during the economic uncertainty. He is past president of the Virginia Optometric Association and recently served as Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee during Virginia's 2022 laser scope expansion. When not with his work family, Dr. Michaels can be found coaching the mental aspects of sports to college and high level travel and high school sports teams. Dr. Michaels was honored as Virginia’s optometrist of the year (twice) and received the President’s Award (twice) by the American Optometric Association for helping to increase the quality of eye and vision care to patients worldwide.


2022 Young Optometrist of the Year

Saysha Blazier, O.D.Saysha Blazier, O.D.

Dr. Blazier received her bachelor of science in cell and molecular biology from Bradley University and her doctor of optometry degree in 2011 from Southern California College of Optometry. In 2011, she moved to Manhattan, where she completed a residency in low vision and ocular disease with the SUNY College of Optometry in partnership with Lighthouse International. Dr. Blazier previously served as director of low vision services and clinical instructor at University Hospital associated with Rutgers University Medical School and has published posters and papers for research in vision and ophthalmology. She has spent the past seven years in private practice settings in Jersey City, New Jersey, and now Staten Island, New York. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and has served on both the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) Board of Trustees and currently as treasurer of the New York State Optometric Association. She has served as president of the AOSA, chairs the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) Clinical Education and Meetings Committee and serves on the AOA Leadership Development Committee. She was honored as Young Optometrist of the year, received the Presidential Special Recognition Award in 2018, Distinguished Service Award in 2019 for the NJSOP in 2015 as well as the Young Optometrist of the Year for the NYSOA in 2021.


2022 Optometric Educator of the Year

Andrew Kemp, O.D.

Andrew Kemp, O.D.Dr. Kemp graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) in 2014. He completed an ocular disease residency at the Cedar Springs Eye Clinic in Dallas, Texas, a UHCO-affiliated community clinic. He is now on faculty at the Cedar Springs Eye Clinic and the Community Eye Clinic working with fourth-year optometry externs and residents.


2022 Student of the Year

Araba Otoo, MPH

Araba Otoo, MPHAraba Otoo, MPH, is a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. Otoo believes that public health should be tightly woven into health professions such as optometry. She has a personal and professional interest in intersecting these two fields to address health disparities in eye care, promote early detection of eye diseases and reduce the incidence of blindness and vision impairment. Otoo immigrated to the United States from Ghana for college and now holds a master’s degree in public health, epidemiology and biostatistics, with a concentration in global health, from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. She is furthering her education with an ocular disease residency at the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has a track record of promoting vision and eye health locally and globally through volunteer and research work.


2022 Paraoptometric of the Year

Loretta Eriks, CPOT Loretta Eriks, CPOT

Loretta Eriks has been with Moses Eyecare Centers since 1987, where she continues to serve as a supervising team leader for over 120 employees. Among her many duties, she manages new employee orientations, HIPAA compliance and helps coordinate schedules for 14 doctors over 11 practice locations. Most importantly, she has encouraged and coached many of her co-workers to take paraoptometric certification courses, turning their job into a future career. She has completed the highest level of paraoptometric certification and has been honored as the Paraoptometric of the Year for Indiana.


2022 Paraoptometric Community Service Award

Shantia Hinderlider, CPO

Shantia HinderliderShantia Hinderlider has been in the profession of optometry since 1986 and enjoys the challenge of the ever-changing technology of optometry. Her passion is vision therapy, and she loves to work with patients, especially children. She finds great satisfaction in helping patients of all ages improve their life with vision therapy.

The AOA congratulates all 2022 award nominees.

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