Opticianry Community Stakeholders Meet to Advance Profession

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Several stakeholders and interested parties within the opticianry community came together last week for the Opticianry Summit: Creating a Plan for the Future, to create a shared vision for opticianry, a practical strategic plan and commitment to action, organizers said. The summit, held May 1 to 2 in Fairfax, Va., welcomed approximately 60 representatives from national organizations, state societies, educators, certification bodies, independent retail, large retail and manufacturers. “Opticians are vital to the success of our members’ businesses as they are the professionals discussing new and sophisticated eyewear products with the public each day,” said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council, the host of the summit. “By hosting this event we hoped to assist the profession in moving itself forward.”

The summit was held in a professionally designed and facilitated environment and began with attendees conducting one-on-one interviews with each other to learn more about what has helped opticianry grow to where it now is, what to bring forward into the future and what opportunities the field faces. Following the interviews, industry trends were presented and survey input from individuals not able to attend the summit was shared among participants.

“I was overwhelmed by the diversity of the group, their willingness to share ideas and their ability to set goals,” said John Bruening, Society To Advance Opticianry (SAO). “The high point for me was being given the opportunity to pinpoint the specific areas that most concerned us.”

Based on the group input from the first day, summit attendees then met to discuss the following strategic areas: Branding & Consumer Confidence; Healthcare Reform & Managed Care; Education & Certification; and Collaboration Among Opticianry Groups.

The group created a roadmap intended to guide the implementation of the ideas outside of the summit. To oversee the next steps, a steward team is in development and will work with the community members who volunteered to lead the various required next steps. This team is planning to meet in early June.

The core planning team for this first Summit will work on transitioning ownership of the results to the steward team and will oversee the summit communications in the interim. The team is also working on an initial event summary, which will be posted to www.opticianrysummit.com, along with photos and other notes from the event, by May 18. Core planning team members are: Ed DeGennaro, MEd, ABOM, LDO; Diana Finsecy, ABOC, FNAO; Tom Hicks, ABOC, LDO, HFOAA; Madeleine Kruhsberg, ABOM, FNAO; and Doug Pelkey, ABO-AC, NCLEC, LDO.

Dave Plogmann, senior vice president of optical partnerships for Luxottica, noted, “This type of event—where people come together from different backgrounds and perspectives to have rational dialogue about a wide range of topics—has rarely been accomplished before in opticianry. While we may not have alignment or agreement on each of the subjects discussed, we did have the conversations critical to understanding the varied points of view.”