Advocacy, Business and Celebration—All a Part of Optometry’s Meeting

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It was a busy week in Washington in mid-June for the American Optometric Association (AOA), with new officers sworn in, a policy think-tank launched and thousands of student members rallying on Capitol Hill to support their profession on the opening day of Optometry’s Meeting.

And these were just a few of the events on AOA’s agenda for the June 21 to 25 meeting at the Washington Convention Center.

At the top of list, perhaps, Christopher Quinn, OD, of New Jersey and Samuel D. Pierce, OD, of Alabama were sworn in as the new president and president-elect, respectively. Andrea P. Thau, OD, of New York, completed her term as president at the meeting.

Separately, AOA announced that it was launching the AOA Health Policy Institute (HPI), a policy think tank that will develop evidence-based research, analysis and solutions in health care policy. The mission of the new entity is to further AOA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession and patients by analyzing trends, weighing evidence and mapping out policy options to support eye health and vision care, according to the announcement.

Quinn, in his inaugural address to AOA’s House of Delegates, underscored the importance of health care policy as it’s relate to eye health. “It has become critical for us to provide our leadership and staff with improved tools and expertise to carry out our mission,” he said.

AOA kicked off with a rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol that was attended by more than 2,000 optometry students participating in the inaugural AOA+ session to show their support for the profession. AOA used the Capitol Hill rally to present awards to several of the profession’s key supporters in Congress.

“This city is a very important place for our profession,” Thau said later that day at the opening general session, where AOA also presented its annual awards to optometrists.

Those receiving awards were:

• Optometrist of the Year, Paul Barney, OD, of Alaska
• Young Optometrist of the Year, Angelique Sawyer, OD, of New Hampshire
• Paraoptometric of the Year, Sally Greeley, CPOT, of Maine
• Optometric Educator of the Year, Elizabeth Steele, OD, of Alabama
• Distinguished Service Award, Dale Heaston, OD, of Washington
• Dr. W. David Sullings Jr. InfantSEE, Reena Patel, OD, of California

Also at the meeting, AOAExcel, a wholly owned subsidiary of AOA, introduced a new business partnership with Intalere that opens the door to discounted purchasing opportunities for AOA members.

“We’ve partnered with [Intalere] to provide these deep discounts to our members,” AOAExcel managing director Bob Kehm told Vision Monday. “Thousands of independent optometrists now have a vehicle that they can use to save [a double-digit percentage] on purchases of these goods,” he added.