SECO Installs Max Ernst, OD, as President, Announces Award Recipients


NEW ORLEANS—SECO International, which concluded here late last month, announced that J. Max Ernst, OD, officially accepted the honor of being named president of the organization during the House of Delegates meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center here. In addition, five honorees accepted their 2019 SECO International awards for leadership in optometry and their significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Ernst began his studies at the University of Michigan, where he received a BS degree in biology in 1981. He was awarded the Doctor of Optometry degree after attending the University of Houston College of Optometry from 1982-1986. Dr. Ernst has been practicing in Kentucky for 33 years, running a successful business with the support of his wife, Carol, and their two daughters. Dr. Ernst served as president of Kentucky Optometric Association from 1997-1998 and he was the Kentucky Optometric Association OD of the year 1999.

“SECO International is dedicated to providing optometrists and ophthalmic professionals with the tools and insights they need to be successful. I’m confident that Dr. Ernst will lend thoughtfulness and creativity to continuing that endeavor,” said Emilio Balius, OD, outgoing president of SECO International.

At the meeting in New Orleans, SECO also presented several awards to eyecare professionals for their efforts to support the profession in 2018.

Receiving awards were:

• The 2019 Optometrist of the South Award was presented to Pete Smith, OD, of Greer, S.C. Dr. Smith has been in private practice in South Carolina for nearly 50 years, alongside his wife and fellow practitioner, Rosalind Overton-Smith, OD. He is a grassroots expert, actively involved in advocacy work to support the optometry profession legislatively and working with legislators to develop their trust when it comes to vision and eye-related issues, the announcement noted.

• The 2019 Young Optometrist of the South Award was presented to Kayla Campbell, OD, of Barboursville, W. Va. Dr. Campbell is a graduate of Alderson Broaddus University, where she earned a BS in chemistry and biology, graduating Magna Cum Laude, before attending and receiving her OD degree in 2014 from Indiana University School of Optometry. She returned to West Virginia to practice optometry, becoming involved in the West Virginia Association of Optometric Physicians and the community programs they support.

• The 2019 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Catherine Amos, OD, FAAO, of Hoover, Ala. Dr. Amos is recognized for her outstanding service and distinguished contributions to the advancement of continuing education in optometry worldwide during 40 years of service as a dedicated volunteer leader with SECO International. Dr. Amos graduated from the University of Alabama School in 1974, making her the first female graduate of the school.

• Jerald Combs, OD, of Martin, Ky., received the President’s Award in recognition of his dedicated years and outstanding advancements to the profession of optometry. Dr. Combs previously served as president of the Kentucky Optometric Association, from 1988-1989, and president of the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners in 2003, 2005, and 2012.

• The 2019 Paraoptometric of the South Award was presented to Melanie Jenkins, CPO, of Spring Hill, Tenn. Jenkins is a crucial asset to the office of Rob Szeliga, OD, managing all administrative aspects of Spring Hill Eyecare with heart and creativity. Her involvement and attention to the community are unparalleled, whether it is her commitment to internal office initiatives, charitable initiatives that give back to the community, or involvement in the state association officers’ board.