Candidates announce 2023 election bids for AOA Board of Trustees
From left to right: (top row) Ronald L. Benner, O.D.; Steven T. Reed, O.D.; Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D.; Teri K. Geist, O.D.; (bottom row) Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S.; Curtis A. Ono, O.D.; Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D.; and Karoline L. Munson, O.D.
Eight doctors of optometry announced their intention to run for seats on the 2023-2024 AOA Board of Trustees with affiliate delegations electing trustees and officers during the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 55th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in Washington, D.C., on June 21-24. Learn more about those doctors seeking to lead and represent the AOA.
Ronald L. Benner, O.D., of Montana, was elected to the office of AOA president-elect in June 2022 and currently serves as AOA president. First elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015, Dr. Benner serves as a member of the Executive Committee, Personnel Committee, Agenda Committee, National Optometric Leaders Council, and the 401(k) Committee. He is the board liaison to AOA-PAC, the Meetings & Member Experiences Center, and the Advocacy Committee. He serves on the Future Practice Initiative Committee, Student Engagement Task Force and is chair of the Advocacy Roundtable. He serves as board liaison to affiliate associations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as the Illinois College of Optometry, Midwestern Chicago College of Optometry, Indiana College of Optometry and Michigan College of Optometry. Dr. Benner’s past board work includes serving as liaison to the Contact Lens & Cornea Section, Faculty & Student Membership Liaisons, Membership Development Committee, Investment Committee, Constitution & Bylaws Committee, Finance Committee, InfantSEE® & Children’s Vision Committee, Council on Research, Quality Improvement & Data Committee, Industry Relations Committee, Vision Rehabilitation Committee, Education Center Committee, AOAExcel®, Federal Relations Committee, State Government Relations Center, and Third Party Center Executive Committee, as well as liaison to the Association of Schools & Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), and the American Academy of Optometry, Future Practice Education Task Force, Program Prioritization Task Force and New Trustee Orientation Task Force.
“As president, I will continue AOA’s mission as the only voice for the entire profession,” Dr. Benner says. “The AOA will remain the leading and uniting force for advancement and protection of the profession. Devaluation of our care by vision plans, disrespect of our doctor recognition by medicine and needless mandates by overreaching government agencies will meet AOA head on this next year. We will not back down, concede or pause our advancement and expanded care for the public at the state or federal levels. Opportunities will be found to benefit all modalities of optometric practice as we continue to support our doctors nationwide.”
Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi, has filed for the office of AOA president-elect. Dr. Reed was first elected to the board in 2016 and currently serves as vice president. He serves as chair of the Investment Committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee, the 401(k) Committee, the Future Practice Education Task Force, the New Trustee Orientation Task Force and the Center for Independent Practice group. Dr. Reed is speaker of the House of Delegates Pro Tem and also is a board liaison to the Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee, the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification Committee, the Industry Relations Committee, as well as liaison to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, and the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education. He is also a board liaison to affiliate associations in Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky and Nevada, as well as the Arizona College of Optometry-Midwestern University.
“My goal is to continue the momentum of contemporary optometry,” Dr. Reed says. “We must double down on our advocacy efforts and not rest until every doctor of optometry can practice at the highest level of their training. It’s critical that we provide tools for practice success—such as leadership training, staff education and retention strategies—and encourage the use of our AOAExcel member benefits. We must eliminate the plague of vision plan abuses and reduce dependence on these plans by encouraging doctors to embrace full-scope optometry. Finally, we need to increase AOA membership by highlighting the value that organized optometry brings to our profession. We must work together to promote and protect our profession for the benefits of our patients.”
Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., of Colorado, has filed for the office of AOA vice president. Dr. Bowen was first elected to the board in 2016 and currently serves as secretary-treasurer. She serves as chair of the Finance Committee and also is a member of the Investment Committee, the Executive Committee, the 401(k) Committee and the Advocacy Roundtable Committee. She is a member of the AOAExcel® board, Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation Committee, the Membership Development Committee, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry Committee, and the National Optometric Association group. She serves as a board liaison to affiliate associations in California, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as the American Optometric Student Association, Northeastern State University Oklahoma’s College of Optometry, the Rosenberg School of Optometry at the University of Incarnate Word, University of Houston College of Optometry and the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.
“As vice president, my focus will be to work closely with my colleagues toward fulfilling our strategic plan,” Dr. Bowen says. “Among other things, this plan includes vigilant protection of the profession, expansion of scope of practice, and support of our membership (doctors, students and paraoptometrics) to provide superior health care to our patients. As leaders, we cannot and do not let our guard down as we constantly seek opportunities to advance the AOA vision and mission to elevate optometry as the go-to authority on eye health and vision care for patients, media and regulatory agencies. Working closely with schools and colleges of optometry, we also have an eye to the future of the profession and securing the success of optometry.”
Teri K. Geist, O.D., of Nebraska, has filed for the office of AOA secretary-treasurer. She was first elected to the board in 2019 and currently serves as a trustee. Dr. Geist serves on the Investment Committee, Finance Committee, New Trustee Orientation Task Force, Program Reprioritization Task Force, Eye Deserve More Committee and the Advocacy Roundtable Committee. She is the board liaison to the State Government Relations Committee, Third Party Center Executive Committee, Strategic Communications Committee, Optometric Extension Program group, the American Board of Optometry and Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation. She also is a board liaison to affiliate associations in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as The Ohio State University College of Optometry and Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
“As optometry continues to shape our role as essential primary care and medical eye care providers, both challenges and opportunities present themselves to the AOA. And in that paradigm, just as in health care, there is not ‘one issue’ but a myriad of complex, intertwined challenges that we, as volunteers, affiliates and AOA, are working to tackle every day,” Dr. Geist says. “But one key issue for our continued success is how to continue to attract and retain members. Our core mission—advocacy—benefits every optometrist, regardless of whether they are a member of the AOA. We must stress AOA’s value proposition and compel those who are not members that the benefits are even greater when all doctors of optometry are engaged.”
Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S., of Ohio, has filed for reelection to the board. Dr. Gossard was first elected to the board in 2019 and currently serves as a trustee. Dr. Gossard serves on the Investment Committee, Constitution & Bylaws Committee and Finance Committee. She also is the board liaison to the Telehealth Council, Federal Relations Committee, Third Party Center Executive Committee, Advocacy Committee, Leadership Development Committee, Membership Development Committee, the PowerPoint for State Visits Committee and Advocacy Roundtable Committee. She serves as board liaison to affiliate associations in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia, as well as the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the New England College of Optometry and the State University of New York College of Optometry.
"A strong professional organization is critical to protect access to optometric eye health and vision care services," Dr. Gossard says. "In my opinion, the AOA's primary mission is to ensure that patients have access to quality optometric care and that doctors of optometry are compensated appropriately for their services. The AOA is also focused on leading the discussion on emerging technologies and valuable, evidence-based telemedicine; we need to make sure that our profession has access to the best tools to deliver contemporary optometric care while at the same time protecting our patients from substandard technology looking to subvert the doctor/patient relationship."
Curtis A. Ono, O.D., of Washington, has filed for reelection to the board. Dr. Ono was first elected to the board in 2020 and currently serves as a trustee. Dr. Ono serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, Program Reprioritization Task Force and the Advocacy Roundtable Committee. Dr. Ono is the board liaison to the State Government Relations Committee, Federal Relations Committee, Vision Rehabilitation Committee and InfantSEE® & Children’s Vision Committee. He serves as a board liaison to affiliate associations in California, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, the Armed Forces Optometric Society and American Optometric Student Association. He also serves as liaison to the World Council of Optometry.
“We are on a roll and our hard work is paying off! Buoyed by legislative successes, affiliates are energized to make necessary changes in their laws and regulations to advance scope,” Dr. Ono says. “I will continue to work diligently beside fellow board members, staff, affiliate leaders and volunteers to protect and expand clinical privileges for the benefit of our patients. Supporting and complementing these efforts are educating our OD and paraoptometric members, advocating for third party inclusion and reimbursement fairness, developing effective public awareness messaging, working on membership growth and staying vigilant with new technologies.”
Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D., of Florida, has filed for election to the board. Dr. Kosanovich has dedicated over 12 years of volunteer service to the Florida Optometric Association (FOA) and the AOA, as well as over three decades of service to his local Manasota Optometric Society. At the state level, he has served on the FOA board since 2011, as well as the FOA Charities Board from 1999-2004 and is the current fundraising chair of the FOA ODEYEPAC since 2020. At a national level, Dr. Kosanovich has served on the AOA State Government Relations Committee since 2018 and has been the AOA Third Party Center State Coordinator since 2014. Dr. Kosanovich graduated from the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University in 1986 and completed a residency in ocular disease at Omni Eye Services in Maryland before going into private practice in Englewood, Florida, in 1992. Dr. Kosanovich is active in his community, volunteering with his local Rotary Club, the Englewood Youth Foundation and YMCA.
Dr. Kosanovich is a past president of the FOA.
“Being a trustee of the American Optometric Association is the next step in a lifelong commitment to our profession,” Dr. Kosanovich says. “In service to the youth of my community, the business community or my profession, I have always been inspired. Now is the time to serve the greater optometric community. My goal is to reach out to our colleagues and help them discover how to make optometry better for all. With the current board members, committee chairs and members, I believe we can achieve this goal.”
Karoline L. Munson, O.D., of Kentucky, has filed for election to the board. Dr. Munson has dedicated over 15 years of volunteer service to the Kentucky Optometric Association (KOA) and the AOA. At a state level, Dr. Munson served on the KOA board, in addition to serving as legislative co-chair since 2021, treasurer of the KOA Political Action Committee since 2006, and as a member of the Kentucky Medicaid Technical Advisory Committee. At a national level, she has served the AOA as a volunteer to the Third Party Committee, New Technology Committee and Federal Relations Committee, as well as serving as a Federal Advocacy Representative since 2019. Dr. Munson graduated from the Indiana University School of Optometry in 2001 before going into practice in Frankfort, Kentucky, where she practices to this day. She also is adjunct faculty at the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry. Dr. Munson has been honored with numerous awards, including KOA Young Optometrist of the Year (2005) and Optometrist of the Year (2020), as well as having received the KOA’s President’s Award twice (2006 and 2012) and has been named to Vision Monday’s “Most Influential Women in Optical.”
Dr. Munson is a past president of the KOA.
“Our AOA board members need to shepherd our organization through the ever-changing health care landscape to ensure that ODs are at the forefront of primary eye care,” Dr. Munson says. “I believe in supported scope expansion on the state level, paired with national advocacy efforts, both legislatively and among regulators, as the key to our future. That future will see a shift in the demographics of our membership that needs to be reflected in our AOA leadership because representation matters to recruit new members and maintain our membership strength. We, as optometrists, need to be the ones to tell our story, be in the room where decisions are made and be the champions for our patients. I am poised and ready to represent our profession as the primary eye care providers on the national level.”
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