AOA’s 2020-21 officers, trustees elected in historic vote
Challenging times called for a historic response as the AOA's 2020-2021 Board of Trustees election took place via virtual ballot after the global coronavirus pandemic required the cancellation of Optometry's Meeting® 2020.
In a special webinar broadcast profession-wide on June 22, the AOA welcomed its 2020-2021 President William T. Reynolds, O.D., of Kentucky, into office and affiliate members cast electronic ballots-validated and tallied by the accounting firm BKD-to fill board officer and trustee positions.
The necessary cancellation of Optometry's Meeting 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland/Washington, D.C., due to the current public health emergency prompted many key elements of the profession's premier meeting to be reconfigured virtually, including the board election and a reimagined online education experience-the AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast, June 24-27. As part of that one-time rearrangement, the AOA also will host a board installation ceremony via profession-wide webinar on Saturday, June 27, to formally recognize the newly elected officers and trustees.
The results of AOA's 2020-2021 Board of Trustees election are as follows:
President William T. Reynolds, O.D. (Kentucky)
President-elect Robert C. Layman, O.D. (Ohio)
Vice President James P. DeVleming, O.D. (Washington)
Secretary-Treasurer Ronald L. Benner, O.D. (Montana)
Immediate Past President Barbara L. Horn, O.D. (South Carolina)
Terri A. Gossard, O.D. (Ohio)
Tad R. Kosanovich, O.D. (Florida)
Curtis A. Ono, O.D. (Washington)
Not up for election this year but continuing to serve as AOA Trustees are Jacqueline Bowen, O.D., Colorado; Teri K. Geist, O.D., of Nebraska; Lori L. Grover, O.D., Ph.D., of Illinois; and Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi.
Positives amidst 2020's challenges
In opening remarks for the AOA's virtual election, outgoing president Dr. Horn acknowledged the great opportunity for optometry's banner year-2020-and the early successes from the AOA's ambitious, multi-pronged awareness campaign centered on the essentialness of routine eye care from doctors of optometry.
"We built tremendous momentum coming into 2020 to position the profession of optometry and ensure that every American made eye health and vision care a priority by getting an eye exam with an AOA doctor of optometry-and we made great strides," Dr. Horn told attendees.
In partnership with affiliates, the innovative "Start with Eye" campaign encouraged Americans to prioritize their eye health and engaged more than 50 organizations, accounting for nearly 375,000 employees and reaching more than 15 million member individuals, in an employer pledge to make comprehensive eye exams part of their annual health routine. So, too, Dr. Horn highlighted a successful, first-ever initiative to host AOA board meetings on optometry campuses, engaging students and faculty at five schools nationwide.
"As we all know, the strong movement we had in the first couple months of 2020 was cut short," Dr. Horn said. "We read news stories and watched through January and February as a foreign virus quickly became an international health issue. Into March, it became the pandemic that has changed our work and lives in ways we still don't fully comprehend. The illness we, today, wearily refer to as COVID-19 has caused us all to reflect on what was and what is going to be moving forward."
Adapting to the change brought on by the public health emergency, the AOA and optometry rallied without hesitation as AOA ensured the full recognition and physician role of doctors of optometry in the federal crisis response and AOA member doctors, themselves, pivoted to providing urgent and emergent care when it mattered most.
Dr. Horn noted the AOA's all-out program reprioritization to support the profession during COVID-19, including offering doctors and optometry practices with crucial information on federal relief, telehealth options, reopening guidance and other resources through the #AskAOA COVID-19 webinar series and AOA COVID-19 Crisis Response webpage, as well as a media advocacy campaign to ensure the public knew the important role optometry played.
"While it isn't over, as we have opened up, we are relearning what we mean to our patients-we all talk about those patients who are coming in and just want to connect," Dr. Horn said.
"We persevered and we will continue to do so, no matter what COVID or other obstacles thrown at us. Because AOA members are resilient and strong, and I am so proud of this incredible family."