NASHVILLE, Tenn.—PERC Alliance and Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation have announced the inaugural recipients of the Golden Opportunity Award, including Dr. Rebecca Chown, Dr. Melissa Macco and Dr. Alyssa Putman. Each award recognizes and supports optometrists who exemplify dedication to their profession and commitment to serving underrepresented and underserved communities, according to the organization. Each winner will receive $50,000 to open their own practice and will be honored on June 20 at the AOSA Optometry Student Bowl during Optometry’s Meeting in Nashville, according to the announcement.

The three inaugural Golden Opportunity Award winners include:

Dr. Rebecca Chown, Hood River, Ore.
Dr. Chown, a 2003 graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry and a veteran optometrist, is dedicated to serving underserved communities. She founded Envision Eye Care for All, a non-profit mobile vision clinic, to address inequities in accessing primary eye health services. “Winning this award makes the dream of a mobile health unit possible,” said Dr. Chown. She said that her mission is to provide exceptional eyecare in an inclusive environment, sensitive to the diverse needs of marginalized communities. Dr. Chown is also pursuing a master’s degree in public health to effect systemic change at a policy level. Her goal is to get recognition of eye health and vision services in section 330 of the Public Health Service Act.
Dr. Melissa Macco, Reno, Nev.
Dr. Macco, who graduated from Western University College of Optometry in 2017, is a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Peru. “This award will be directly invested into the practice my husband and I are currently building,” said Dr. Macco. She said that she aims to strengthen her relationships with Community Health Alliance (CHA) and NV Hopes Clinic to serve the Latino community, breaking down language, cultural, and economic barriers to access primary eyecare. Dr. Macco’s professional and personal goals are intertwined, as she seeks to attain financial freedom and demonstrate to her peers the viability and importance of independent private practice in optometry. Dr. Macco indicated that she and her husband plan to open their practice this summer in Reno.

Dr. Alyssa Putman, Elmira, N.Y.
Dr. Putman, a 2012 graduate of Salus University, is dedicated to providing exceptional patient care and creating a supportive, educational work environment. She envisions a practice where patients feel the passion and commitment of her entire team. “This award is such an honor to continue Dr. Golden’s legacy of elevating those around him and helping others to climb the ladder of success,” said Dr. Putman. She plans to use the award to acquire new technology for diagnosing and treating patients, and to fund biannual free clinics for referred patients needing care. She said that her goal is to inspire her community by showcasing a workplace environment filled with excitement, passion, and commitment. Dr. Putman is acquiring a practice in Elmira later this year.

For more information about the Golden Opportunity Award and how to support this initiative, visit