AOA Announces Seven Annual Optometry’s Meeting Award Winners


ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA) has  announced six individuals and one public health program as winners of its annual awards. The winners will be honored at Optometry’s Meeting 2019, during the AOA Block Party on Wednesday, June 19, from 4-7pm in St. Louis. This year’s winners are: Ben Casella, OD, of Georgia, is honored with the Optometrist of the Year Award, recognized for his outstanding service on behalf of the profession and the visual welfare of the public. Dr. Casella is a third generation optometrist who graduated from University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry and completed a residency in ocular disease at SUNY State College of Optometry. As president of the Georgia Optometric Association since 2016, Dr. Casella has guided his state through many scope expansions, testified in committee hearings, and worked with the media.

Jennifer Kohn, OD,
is honored with the Young Optometrist of the Year Award. Dr. Kohn has been in practice for less than ten years, and demonstrates remarkable leadership in her profession. Since graduating from the Indiana University School of Optometry, Dr. Kohn has helped her family’s practice, Moses Eyecare, grow from three to ten locations, and has taken on the human resources manager role for the 85+ staff and ten-doctor team. She is also an active Indiana Optometric Association member, previously serving as president of the Northwestern Society, and currently as its secretary-treasuerer. She is also co-founder of YOLO, the Young Optometrists Leadership Organization.

Zanna Krouch, OD, from Texas, is the winner of the Optometric Educator Award. Dr. Krouch graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston, College of Optometry before completing a Cornea and Contact Lens Management Residency at Illinois College of Optometry. She is assistant clinical faculty at the Cedar Springs Eye Clinic, an inner city, predominantly charity clinic. This year, Dr. Krouch was honored as the Texas Optometric Association Educator of the Year.

Melanie Jenkins, CPO, from Tennessee, wins the Paraoptometric of the Year Award. She recently received the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians (TAOP) Paraoptometric of the Year Award, as well as the 2019 SECO Paraoptometric of the South Award. Melanie works at Rob Szeliga, O.D.’s, practice, Spring Hill Eyecare, which she joined soon after it opened. At the practice, Melanie wears many hats, including organizing events, giving tours to Girl Scout troops, organizing food drives, and more.

Marietta Richman,
from New Jersey, is honored with the Paraoptometric Community Service Award. Marietta has worked as a paraoptometric at Shore Family Eyecare for more than six years. She has been involved with the Girl Scouts since she was young and recently developed a program to provide a “Vision Awareness” patch to Girl Scouts who visit an optometric office. In the future, Marietta is planning to attend optometry school.

Mark Hennen, OD, of Minnesota, is the winner of the Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Hennen graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry in 1986, and has served as Minnesota Optometric Association president, as a member of the AOA’s State Government Regulation committee, as chair of the AOA Eye Care Benefits Center, and has served as chair of the MOA Third Party since 2013, as well as holding many other positions throughout his career. Dr. Hennen has made multiple medical trips to Vietnam, and opened his private practice to optometry school preceptorships serving as adjunct faculty to UMSL School of Optometry from 1998-2001 to Salas School of Optometry from 2014 to present.

Finally, the AOA is awarding the Apollo Award, the highest award they present to the general public, to the Realeyes Program of Ohio. The classroom-based public health initiative was created by the Ohio Optometric Association with a grant from the Ohio Department of Health Save Our Sight Fund with the goal of educating young Ohioans about the importance of vision health and eye safety.

For more information on this year’s winners, click here.

To register for Optometry’s Meeting 2019, click here.