Candidates announce 2024 election bids for AOA Board of Trustees

April 24, 2024
Eight doctors of optometry are vying for positions on the AOA Board of Trustees. Delegates representing AOA’s affiliate associations will cast their votes for trustees and officers at Optometry’s Meeting®, June 19-22, in Nashville, Tennessee.
The AOA Board of Trustees Candidates

From left to right: (top row) Steven T. Reed, O.D.; Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D.; Teri K. Geist, O.D.; Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S.; (second row) Paul M. Barney, O.D.; Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D.; Karoline Munson, O.D., and Robert Theaker, O.D.

Read about the eight doctors of optometry seeking election to the AOA Board of Trustees during voting at Optometry’s Meeting® 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee, June 19-22. 

Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi, was elected to the office of AOA president-elect in June 2023 and currently serves as AOA president. He was first elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 119th Annual AOA Congress & 46th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® in July 2016 and elected to the office of president-elect during the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 53rd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting in June 2023. As a member of the AOA Board, Dr. Reed serves as chair of the 401(K) Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee, Federal Relations Committee, Agenda Committee, Personnel Committee and AOA Advocacy Roundtable Committee. Dr. Reed is the liaison trustee to the Sports and Performance Vision Committee, the Advocacy Committee, the Federal Relations Committee, the Future Practice Initiative, the Meetings & Member Experiences Committee, the American Academy of Optometry, the American Optometric Association Political Action Committee and the National Optometric Leadership Conference. He also serves as the liaison trustee to affiliate associations in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Additionally, he is the liaison trustee to optometry schools including Indiana University School of Optometry and Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry.

“Our board of trustees is a highly motivated group of individuals who collectively strive to effect meaningful change in our profession,” Dr. Reed says. “Each member has a unique skill set that strengthens our group to achieve progress toward a mutually agreed upon mission. My personal skill set revolves around three primary areas: achievement, focus and personal growth. I am a high achiever. Unlike many, I enjoy strategic planning. The idea of dreaming of a future state, setting goals, measuring progress and hitting that mark excites me. I do this in all areas of my life and have found tremendous joy in the results. I am also very focused. I call it my ‘dog on a bone’ mentality. My mother calls it stubborn. In discussions, I feel compelled to stay on the task at hand and limit rabbit-hole conversations.  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I’d rather not meander in a field of fluff. Focus also helps me in interviews such as when Mississippi went through our scope battle. Many interviews and hearings can twist and distort the facts to get off point. I can maintain a consistent thread of thought most of the time. Finally, I am a strong believer in personal growth. There is so much to learn and so many ways to grow each day. My personal mission is to grow into all that God has gifted me to become. Growth is a choice, and I have decided to be a lifelong learner. I give God the credit for my strengths. I’m honored to serve as your president, and I promise to fight for all of us each day.” 

Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., of Colorado, has filed for the office of AOA president-elect and currently serves as vice president. Dr. Bowen was initially elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 119th Annual AOA Congress & 46th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® in July 2016, and elected to the office of vice president during the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 53rd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting in June 2023. As a member of the board, Dr. Bowen serves as chair of the Investment Committee and is a member of the 401(k) Committee, Executive Committee, Personnel Committee, the AOAExcel® board, the AOA Advocacy Roundtable Committee, the Center for Independent Practice and the Federal Relations Committee. Additionally, Dr. Bowen serves on the Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation’s Board of Directors. She is also the liaison trustee to the Advocacy Committee, the Federal Relations Committee, the Future Practice Initiative, the Leadership Development Committee, the Industry Relations Center Committee, the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, the Optometric Vision Development and Rehabilitation Association and the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety. She also serves as the liaison trustee to affiliate associations in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Furthermore, she is the liaison trustee to optometry schools including The Ohio State University College of Optometry and the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry.

“It has been exciting to be part of the AOA Board strategic plan, in place for several years, to advance contemporary optometry,” Dr. Bowen says. “Our goal is for every doctor of optometry to practice at the highest level of training they desire, equipped with the tools, supported by the laws, unhindered by payers and respected in the health care system. As president-elect, I look forward to working with this diversely skilled and experienced board toward elevating optometry’s role in total patient care and health wellness. We will accomplish this through collaboration with key partner organizations that intersect most frequently with our patient care models. Quite recently, we board members and staff have walked through a few evaluations of our personal strengths and weaknesses. It's never too late to learn about how we can all work together more efficiently and with a better understanding that our varying strengths combine to form an amazing team. I excel at examining all angles of a decision, thoughtful processing, and bringing a group to consensus. Connectedness is very important to me, and I believe the future success of optometry being seen as a health care profession lies in collaboration with other professions who share in the care of our patients. It is my goal to establish those mutually beneficial relationships, starting with a few key prospects later this year.”

Teri K. Geist, O.D., of Nebraska, has filed for the office of vice president. Dr. Geist was elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 122nd Annual AOA Congress & 49th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® in June 2019 and elected to the office of secretary-treasurer during the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 53rd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting in June 2023. As a member of the board, Dr. Geist serves as chair of the Finance Committee and is a member of the 401(k) Committee, the Executive Committee, the Investment Committee, and the AOA Advocacy Roundtable Committee. Dr. Geist serves on Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation’s Board of Directors and is the liaison trustee to the Education Center Committee, the Health Policy Institute, the Advocacy Committee, the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification, the Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and the National Optometric Association. She also serves as the liaison trustee to affiliate associations in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. Additionally, she is the liaison trustee to optometry schools including the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry and University of Houston College of Optometry. 

Optometry is such a dynamic profession with potential that grows every year and during my entire career, I have had a singular focus: to ensure we embrace and advance our potential no matter what odds we face,” Dr. Geist says. “As a communicator at heart, it is a challenge to speak in singular, personal terms because I see optometry as a team. But, as vice president, I will apply my strategic and critical thinking, unique spirit of positivity, honed insights on how to connect different audiences through communications and leveraging existing (or creating new) ways to compel audiences to action to help continue optometry’s forward progression. We have a strong, diverse board today and I will put my distinctive mix of attributes to work to bring us together and create innovative solutions to take on the myriad challenges and opportunities that we have as America’s primary eye health care providers. From advocacy to membership to public awareness of optometry, we will be champions for your current and growing future role in changing the face of health care for Americans.”

Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S., of Ohio, has filed for the office of secretary-treasurer. Dr. Gossard was elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 122nd Annual AOA Congress & 49th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry's Meeting® in June 2019 and reelected as trustee during the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 53rd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in June 2023. She serves on the Investment Committee, Constitution & Bylaws Committee and Finance Committee. She also is the board liaison to the AOA Federal Relations Committee, Third Party Center Executive Committee, Membership Development Committee and Advocacy Roundtable Committee. She serves as board liaison to affiliate associations: Association of Armed Forces and Federal Optometric Services and in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the New England College of Optometry and the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

In declaring my candidacy for secretary-treasurer, I pledge to ensure the financial health and sustainability of the organization through careful budgeting, investing and financial reporting with transparency and accountability,” Dr. Gossard says. “With the Finance Committee, I’ll focus on aligning resources with organizational priorities and goals from our strategic planning. The financial support for programs, services, and legislative initiatives to meet the needs of our members and advance the profession will drive member value and engagement. As an AOA Board member, I will continue to work to improve the standing and recognition of optometry as a vital component of health care. I enjoy helping to shape and contribute to a unified organization that advances optometry in all areas, including advocacy, public relations, third party relations, association management, and most importantly the ability to deliver the most advanced and comprehensive eye and vision care to patients. I prioritize collaboration and work to build strong relationships that hold a team together. Previously diagnosed with ‘contagious enthusiasm,’ I try to get others excited about what they are going to do. Ideas fascinate me. I work to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena and absorb and analyze information that informs better decisions. I also love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over; breaking the ice and making a connection with someone energizes me. Above all, I value integrity, accountability and humility. Lastly, I pledge to be curious. To ask questions. Why? Why are things this way? Why do we do this? What if? Because I believe when leaders lead with curiosity, remarkable things happen.” 

Paul M. Barney, O.D., of Alaska, is seeking reelection to the AOA Board of Trustees. Dr. Barney was elected to the board at the 125th Annual AOA Congress & 52nd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in June 2022. Dr. Barney serves on the Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation's Board of Directors. He is the liaison trustee to the Research and Information Committee, the State Government Relations Committee, the Third Party Center Executive Committee, the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, the Membership Development Committee, the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. He is also the liaison trustee to affiliate associations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Additionally, he is the liaison trustee to optometry schools including the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry and the University of California-Berkeley School of Optometry. 

“Optometry’s future is as bright as it has ever been, but that future is dependent on optometric leaders guiding the profession through a minefield of obstacles and detractors who would like to devalue and reduce optometry’s importance in health care,” Dr. Barney says. “As an AOA Board member seeking reelection, I would hope to continue the Board’s focus on expanding scope of practice across the U.S.; helping shape the National Standard of Practice for optometry in the VA; helping change the policies of those vision plans that are negatively affecting vision care, either through negotiations with the plan managers or by helping pass state and federal laws that will rein in vision plan abuses; educating legislators and policy makers that optometrists are physicians and have been recognized as physicians by the CMS for decades, and accordingly should be treated as physicians regarding policy-making and reimbursement; by helping states with their efforts to grow membership; and helping grow public awareness on the importance of taking care of their vision and the vital role that optometry plays in caring for this nation’s vision needs. I can help the AOA Board accomplish these goals with my background in advocacy and education. I have helped several states with their scope expansion efforts, including helping my own state, Alaska, pass optometric board autonomy in 2017. I have testified for scope expansion in the legislatures of several U.S. states, as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have also helped the legislative teams in several states organize and implement their legislative strategies. I am an adjunct professor at two U.S. optometry schools and one international optometry school; I have used and will continue to use my experience in optometric education when talking with legislators and policy makers about optometry’s level of education, and why scope should be expanded to take full advantage of the profession’s potential. In regard to my personal skills that I will bring to the AOA Board that would help the board accomplish its mission, I have strong interpersonal and communication skills. I enjoy tackling complex issues that affect many groups of people and finding novel solutions that not only solve the problem but bring people closer together as a result. I also feel that I have a good sense in finding more effective and efficient ways of doing things without compromising quality.” 

Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D., of Florida, has filed for reelection to the board of trustees. Dr. Kosanovich was elected to the AOA Board of Trustees at the 126th Annual AOA Congress & 53rd Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in June 2023. As a member of the board, Dr. Kosanovich is the liaison trustee to the Ethics and Values Committee, the Evidence-Based Optometry Committee, the Commission on Ophthalmic Standards and the InfantSEE® and Children’s Vision Committee. He also serves as the liaison trustee to affiliate associations in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Additionally, he is the liaison trustee to optometry schools including Pacific University College of Optometry and Southern College of Optometry.

“My responsibility as a trustee of the American Optometric Association is to work as an integral member of the board for the betterment of all optometrists.” Dr. Kosanovich says. “Our work is to serve the greater optometric community. So, among my goals is to assist the AOA's committed volunteers to be effective in their important work. Similarly, all our affiliate associations require information, resources, and support to achieve success in membership growth, or my personal favorite, legislative victory in expanding optometric scope of practice. I also want to encourage all our colleagues to practice to their highest level of education and skill. So, I will continue to reach out to our colleagues and help them discover how to build stronger optometric practices. For example, serving their community may be enhanced by engaging AOA Center for Independent Practice or being a provider for InfantSEE. In summary, my job as a trustee for the AOA is to support, teach, facilitate, encourage and lead my friends, colleagues and the profession of optometry into a very bright future. A future that we are proud to bequeath to the next generation of optometric physicians. I am both an ambassador and warrior for optometry. As an ambassador traveling the country, I invite all optometrists into the AOA family. I promote the AOA mission statement as clear evidence that we can do more together. As a warrior, I fight for the recognition and respect that optometric physicians deserve. In both the community forum and legislative arena, I have an indefatigable mind set and work ethic.”

Karoline 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, as a member of the Kentucky Medicaid Technical Advisory Committee since 2018 and the treasurer of the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners since 2023. 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 is also an 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” in addition to being awarded the honor of Kentucky Colonel in 2005 and 2015. 

“As a member of the AOA Board of Trustees I aspire to be a leader that shepherds our profession into its integral role as primary eye care providers for our citizens,” Munson says. “I want to use my legislative background and personal experience with expanded procedure to aid affiliates in their quest to update state laws to reflect the current state of our profession. I will continue the arduous task of advocating for increased reimbursements and more accountability from vision care plans with whatever means produce results. I hope to serve as an example to the expanding demographic of female graduates to join their affiliates, engage with their efforts and become a leader for optometry. It is difficult to accomplish impactful change alone and I want to collaborate with the current board members to help ensure the future of optometry is at the front and center of eye care in America. Being raised squarely in the Midwest the need to accomplish tasks, whether easy or daunting, without complaint or praise was instilled in me early on. I am doggedly tenacious when trying to accomplish a goal, I have effective communication skills, thick skin for the optometry haters and above all a respect for my colleagues and a passion to move my profession forward in the future. My service to the board is about the ‘we’ as AOA members as a whole not the ‘me’ as a board member. As a board member I want to plant seeds for a tree that I may never sit under as so many optometry giants did before me.” 

Robert Theaker, O.D., of California, has filed for election to the board of trustees. Dr. Theaker has dedicated over 25 years of volunteer service to the California Optometric Association (COA), including past Chair and current member of the COA’s Legislation and Regulation Committee. He served as COA President in 2007 and was named COA Young OD of the Year in 1998, COA OD of the Year in 2016, and Great Western Council of Optometry OD of the Year in 2017. Dr. Theaker has also dedicated over 15 years of volunteer service to the American Optometric Association (AOA). He has been Chair of the AOA’s Federal Relations Committee for the past five years, and a member the past 16 years. He has been chair of the AOA House of Delegates Resolutions Committee for the past four years, and a member of that committee on and off for the past 13 years. Dr. Theaker has been in private practice at Hollister Vision Center since 1991, as well as working part-time at the Palo Alto VA for 11 years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at Berkeley and later graduated from the University of California Berkeley School of Optometry. Dr. Theaker has been an active member of the Monterey Sunrise Rotary Club for over 31 years. He has been a member of the Flying Doctors and has volunteered at numerous vision screenings and participated in many legislative fundraisers throughout the country. 

“I have always been interested in politics and advocacy and would like to increase member and non-member participation in our legislative programs,” Dr. Theaker says. “When AOA puts out a ‘Call to Action,’ I want more members to call their legislators and send letters supporting our positions. I want to strengthen our grassroots program so we can be a more effective political organization. I would like to raise the number of our optometry bill co-sponsors in Congress and the Senate. Also, increasing scope of practice within the states is vital to our profession’s growth, and ensures optometry is in the driver’s seat for future patient care with our aging population. Finally, it is critical to get the word out that AOA is the primary source of advocacy, protection, and support of our optometry careers, and membership in the AOA is critical for this goal. I am an outspoken champion of optometry and believe my trustee visits to the states will enable me to effectively educate, train, excite and inspire our members with regard to our AOA advocacy agenda. I have extensive knowledge of our main political issues, and can articulate the complicated details in an easy, forthright manner. I am confident that my years of experience volunteering in the AOA structure will allow me to hit the ground running if elected to the Board, and I promise to fully devote myself to serving and protecting this great profession.” 

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