Annual American Optometric Association Award Winners

Congratulations to AOA’s 2024 award winners

The AOA thanks its longstanding Visionary Supporter Johnson & Johnson for their recognition of these exemplary individuals. Award recipients will be honored throughout Optometry’s Meeting® in Nashville, Tennessee on June 19-22, 2024. Registration for Optometry’s Meeting is currently open and offering early bird registration rates until April 1.  

2024 Optometrist of the Year

Matt Jones, O.D.Matthew Jones, O.D.

Dr. Jones is a recognized leader in the scope expansion efforts in Arkansas, focusing on access to the highest quality of care for patients across the state, and successfully led the passage of the 2019 scope expansion bill. He also served as a board member of Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, the committee to protect the new law from being placed on the ballot for recall. Dr. Jones is the Past President of the Arkansas Optometric Association, a former Federal Advocacy Representative (FAR) and formerly served on Optometry’s Meeting Committee. He is currently the Legislative Chair for Arkansas Optometric Association, on the AOA-PAC Board of Directors and a member of the AOA's State Government Relations Committee (SGRC).  

2024 Young Optometrist of the Year

Kelly Deering, O.D.Kelly Deering, O.D

Dr. Deering volunteered to serve as the local society president of the Northwest region of the Missouri Optometric Association (MOA) and recently became a trustee on the MOA Board of Directors in 2021. Her active participation has ranged from championing the MOA rebrand and restructuring to taking an active role in the MOA Scope Committee to modernize the practice of optometry in Missouri. Dr. Deering’s past and recent efforts to advance optometry demonstrate her proactive communication strategies that help bridge gaps and unite the profession with a common goal.  

2024 Distinguished Service Award

Andy Cook, O.D.Andrew Cook, O.D. 

Dr. Cook is a 2022 founding participant of the AOA Advocacy Roundtable, an interactive forum for supporters of optometry. Following his role in 1980 as the AOSA National Vice President, Dr. Cook continued his service to optometry through his leadership in the North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS), Southern Council of Optometrists, and the AOA. He is the Past President of NCOS, Southern Council of Optometrists (SECO), and the North Carolina State Board of Optometry. Dr. Cook has received accolades such as the SECO President’s Award and the NCOS Optometrist of the Year/John Costabile Award. 

2024 Optometric Educator of the Year

Jeff Walline, O.D.Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D, Ph.D.

Dr. Walline is the current Dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and previously served as Chair of the Research and Graduate Studies Committee and was an Associate Dean of Research. Throughout his tenure at OSU, Dr. Walline has led several pediatric contact lens studies to evaluate the effect of contact lens wear on myopia progression and children's self-perceptions. At the AOA level, Dr. Walline was a member of the AOA’s Council on Research, is Immediate Past Chair of the AOA Council for the Cornea and Contact Lens Section and is a member of the Food and Drug Administration Myopia Control Review Taskforce. 

2024 Student of the Year

Maggie DunnMaggie Dunn

Maggie is currently in her third year at the Ohio State University College of Optometry. As President of her college’s chapter of AOSA, Maggie is an active leader in Ohio’s advocacy efforts to modernize optometric scope of practice. She actively engaged and educated legislators on the depth and breadth of optometric education at Ohio Optometric Association’s Optometry Day at the Statehouse. Maggie also works with pre-optometry students as a “Big Sibling” and has been a member of Optometry Ambassadors since 2021. 

2024 Paraoptometric of the Year

Savanna Johnson, CPOASavanna Johnson, CPOA

Savanna Johnson, CPOA, received the Mississippi Optometric Association 2023 Paraoptometric of the Year Award as well as the 2023 Paraoptometric Community Service Award. Savanna consistently devotes her time to improving her skills as a paraoptometric and was one of only 21 paraoptometrics to earn the CPOA credential.  

Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement Awards

Sally Greeley, CPOTSally Greeley, CPOT

Sally Greeley, CPOT, has worked in eye care for over 30 years and served on the Maine Paraoptometric Association Board for 10 years. Her focus on the value of education led her to the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) where she continued to encourage paraoptometrics to become certified. Sally is referred to as a mentor within the CPC and has been acknowledged for her selfless work and drive.  

2024 Paraoptometric Community Service Award

Shelby Miller, CPOAShelby Miller, CPO

Shelby Miller, CPO, is a dedicated member of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) and has created presentations for recruitment. In 2023, she received the Wisconsin Optometric Association scholarship to attend the Summer 2023 VOSH mission trip to Ecuador to provide eye care to those in need.   

The National Optometry Hall of Fame

The National Optometry Hall of Fame recognizes and honors optometrists who are luminaries of the professions—those who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the optometric profession. The award is administered through Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation. This year’s winners include:  

Joe Ellis, O.D.

Joe Ellis, O.D. 

Joe Ellis, O.D., is a past president of the American Optometric Association and has been practicing full-scope optometry in since 1986. He has earned the Expanded Therapeutic Procedures certification and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. Dr. Ellis is a passionate advocate for access to care and currently the Advocacy chair on the Medical Executive Board at EyeCare Partners.    


Dr. Jaanus

Siret Jaanus, M.S., Ph.D.

As an academic researcher, author and leader in public health, Siret Jaanus, M.S., Ph.D., has been highly influential to the profession of optometry. Over the course of her career, she played an extensive role in leading optometric education and advancing vision research. She has also made significant contributions to the understanding of ocular pharmacology and co-authored dozens of publications. She helped introduce and expand courses in general and ocular pharmacology at Southern California College of Optometry and other schools and colleges of optometry across the U.S. This was a result of legislation enacted in 1976 in California in part because of the highly successful and tireless efforts of Dr. Jaanus, who met with legislators and testified before committees in California and several other states. She is also affiliated with the State University of New York College of Optometry.  

Dr. W. David Sullins, Jr., InfantSEE Award

Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation also awards the Dr. W. David Sullins, Jr., InfantSEE AwardDebra Bernay, O.D.,  recognizing an individual doctor of optometry who has made significant contributions to optometry or the community for outstanding public service involving the InfantSEE program.

This year’s winner is Dr. Deborah Bernay. Dr. Bernay has served as the Texas State Leader for InfantSEE since its inception in 2004. She promotes InfantSEE throughout the state by educating doctors and students at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Dr. Bernay is passionate about infant vision and feels promoting InfantSEE is optometry’s gift to the youngest population. She currently serves on the board for the College’s Foundation for Education and Research in Vision and is a diplomat in the American Board of Optometry.  

Dr. Jerry P. Davidoff Vision Care Award

Joan Stelmack, O.D.Joan Stelmack, O.D

Dr. Joan Stelmack is Director of Low Vision Service at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. She specializes in low vision rehabilitation and contributes to ophthalmology resident education and research. 

A graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry, Dr. Stelmack has collaborated on 23 funded research studies funded by VA, NIH and private foundations. In the role of principal research investigator, she has received over 4 million dollars in research funding. She has authored over 47 journal articles and presented over 155 scientific papers, posters and lectures. 

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Diplomate in the Academy’s Public Health Section, and a Distinguished Scholar in the National Academy of Practice in Optometry. She is a past recipient of the William Feinbloom Award from the American Academy of Optometry (2010), The Vision Care Award from the AOA (2004), and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research and Literature in Low Vision (2008) from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. As a volunteer for the AOA, she serves on the  Council on Research ( 1996-present)  and served on the Low Vision Section Council  (1989-1999). 

The AOA congratulates all 2024 award nominees.

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