Golden Opportunity Award Inaugural Winners to be Honored at Optometry’s Meeting® in Nashville

June 10, 2024

June 2024 – Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation  and PERC Alliance are delighted to announce the inaugural recipients of the Golden Opportunity Award, including Dr. Rebecca Chown, Dr. Melissa Macco and Dr. Alyssa Putman.

Each award recognizes and supports optometrists who exemplify dedication to their profession and commitment to serving underrepresented and underserved communities. Each winner will receive $50,000 to open their own practice and will be honored on June 20 at the AOSA Optometry Student Bowl during Optometry’s Meeting in Nashville.

Dr. Rebecca Chown of Hood River, OR

Dr. Rebecca Chown, a 2003 graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry and a veteran optometrist, is dedicated to serving underserved communities. She founded Envision Eye Care for All, a non-profit mobile vision clinic, to address inequities in accessing primary eye health services. "Winning this award makes the dream of a mobile health unit possible," said Dr. Chown. Her mission is to provide exceptional eye care in an inclusive environment, sensitive to the diverse needs of marginalized communities. Dr. Chown is also pursuing a Master's degree in public health to effect systemic change at a policy level. Her goal is to get recognition of eye health and vision services in section 330 of the Public Health Service Act.

Dr. Melissa Macco of Reno, NV

Dr. Melissa Macco, who graduated from Western University College of Optometry in 2017, is a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Peru. Her journey is a testament to her family's hopes for a better future. "This award will be directly invested into the practice my husband and I are currently building," stated Dr. Macco. She aims to strengthen her relationships with Community Health Alliance (CHA) and NV Hopes Clinic to serve the Latino community, breaking down language, cultural, and economic barriers to access primary eye care. Dr. Macco's professional and personal goals are intertwined as she seeks to attain financial freedom and demonstrate to her peers the viability and importance of independent private practice in optometry. Dr. Macco and her husband plan to open their practice this summer in Reno, NV.

Dr. Alyssa Putman of Elmira, NY

Dr. Alyssa Putman, a 2012 graduate of Salus University, is dedicated to providing exceptional patient care and creating a supportive, educational work environment. She envisions a practice where patients feel the passion and commitment of her entire team. "This award is such an honor to continue Dr. Golden's legacy of elevating those around him and helping others to climb the ladder of success," said Dr. Putman. She plans to use the award to acquire new technology for diagnosing and treating patients, and to fund biannual free clinics for referred patients needing care. Her goal is to inspire her community by showcasing a workplace environment filled with excitement, passion, and commitment. Dr. Putman is acquiring a practice in Elmira later this year.

These outstanding recipients are applauded for their exemplary service and dedication to advancing optometric care in their communities. Their innovative and compassionate approaches embody the spirit and legacy of Dr. David Golden, the beloved founder of PERC.

For more information about the Golden Opportunity Award and how to support this initiative, please visit .


About Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation

Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization working to empower the optometric profession in providing awareness and access to health and vision care for the public. To learn more, please visit 

About the American Optometric Association

The American Optometric Association (AOA) is the leading authority on and advocate for quality eye health care, representing more than 48,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and optometric professionals. As the sole primary eye care provider in many communities across America, doctors of optometry are often a patient's first entry point into the health care system, and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disorders, diseases, and injuries that affect the eye and visual system. Through a nationwide public health initiative, AOA's Eye Deserve More campaign is fostering awareness of the importance of eye health and vision care and the overall health benefits of in-person, comprehensive eye examinations with AOA doctors of optometry for all Americans.