AOA’s prestigious leadership program graduates another class

December 6, 2023
Learn how you can apply or nominate a doctor of optometry for the 2024 AOA Leadership Institute.
Leadership Institute

Since 2021, the AOA’s Leadership Institute has welcomed diverse groups of doctors of optometry to hone their skills in a year-long leadership development workshop. The AOA Leadership Institute aims to: 

  • Encourage diversity within the future leadership of optometry and the AOA.
  • Provide training and personal growth opportunities for candidates.
  • Provide leadership opportunities on local, state and national levels.
  • Strengthen relationships between the AOA, affiliates and schools and colleges of optometry. 

Brought to life by the AOA Leadership Development Committee, which formed in 2018 under Andrea Thau, O.D., the program was designed to help prepare the next generation of leaders. This year, the graduating class was nominated by 34 affiliates.

In addition to demonstrating the skills necessary to become even more engaged leaders, the AOA Leadership Institute, supported since inception by AOA Visionary Supporters Johnson & Johnson Vision and EssilorLuxottica, also expands doctors’ professional networks and spheres of influence to encourage cohesiveness and empower them to get involved at every level. 

Participants were asked to share their experiences, and here is what they have to say:

Lifelong connections  

“My biggest takeaways from this entire program are the connections I've made within my cohort and the live public speaking segment.” 

“I love that over the year, our cohort has really gotten to know each other, and it has made each team session become more efficient and effective.” 

Handling hardships  

“The thing I enjoyed most was hearing from industry leaders and the changes/problems they have overcome in their careers. I think it is easy to look at a highly successful person and assume that it has been smooth; however, hearing their changes and the path they took to do so was motivating and insightful.” 

From current leaders  

“The AOA Leadership Institute programs are important on a multitude of levels. It engages members at a stage in their careers where they are at risk of dropping membership and activates them to become lifelong leaders of their state associations and AOA and AOA PAC donors. It demonstrates to these ODs that AOA is their partner and a trusted resource. Our corporate sponsors love the program, too! The 2.0 attendees loved the program so much that they are asking for a 3.0 program,” says Andrea Thau, O.D.  

“I was privileged to attend the Leadership Institute and Leadership 2.0 graduations along with Drs. Bowen, Ono and Read. Dr. Thau and her committee have done and continue to do an amazing job with this program,” adds AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D.  

Leadership Institute Class of 2024  

As 2024 approaches, so does the next Leadership Institute class. A new cohort of doctors will take their seats for the impactful program—will you be one of them?   

The AOA Leadership Institute seeks candidates who: 

  • Are active AOA members.
  • Five to 10 years in practice.
  • Show interest or potential in leadership roles.

If you would like to nominate a doctor of optometry or apply for the 2024 AOA Leadership Institute, please contact leadershipinstitute@aoa.org. Nominations and applications are reviewed by a committee of doctors, advocates and leaders of optometry. 

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