Candidates announce bids for 2021 Board of Trustees elections

April 14, 2021
Optometry’s Meeting®, June 24-26, in Denver, Colorado, is taking shape now, and so is the AOA Board of Trustees—familiarize yourself with the doctors seeking to represent members.
2020 American Optometric Association Board Candidates

Recognized worldwide as an authority on eye and vision care, the AOA moves the needle on improved quality and availability of full-scope, contemporary optometric care through a devoted group of leaders who advocate on behalf of patients and the profession. As Optometry’s Meeting® 2021 in Denver, Colorado, June 24-26, takes shape, familiarize yourself with those doctors seeking to represent members on the AOA Board of Trustees—be sure to click board candidates’ names for full bio information.

Robert C. Layman, O.D., of Ohio, will become AOA president at Optometry’s Meeting 2021 after serving on the board since 2013. Currently, Dr. Layman serves as a chair of the 401(k) Committee and serves as a member of the Executive Committee and Personnel Committee. He is the board liaison to the American Academy of Optometry, AOA Political Action Committee, VisionWeb, AOA Advocacy Committee, and AOA Meetings Center Committee. He also is the board liaison to affiliate associations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Michigan College of Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago College of Optometry and Indiana University School of Optometry. His past board work includes serving as liaison to the Content Review Board, Federal Legislative Action Keyperson Committee, Federal Relations Committee, InfantSEE® & Children's Vision Committee, State Government Relations Committee, and Third-Party Center Executive Committee.

Dr. Layman is a past president of the Ohio Optometric Association.

“My goal for the profession in the year ahead is to equip our members to practice full-scope, contemporary optometry, embracing new technologies and procedures in order to better serve patient needs. The AOA must continue to fulfill its role of most effective advocacy change agent for the profession. I look forward to the impact our new See and Be Seen program will have on public awareness of the important care we deliver. Hopefully, we can safely rejuvenate the collegiality that is our hallmark through in-person events in the year ahead.”

James P. DeVleming, O.D., of Washington, has filed for the office of AOA president-elect after serving on the board since 2014. Currently, Dr. DeVleming serves as chair of the Investment Committee and serves as a member of the Executive Committee and 401(K) Committee. He is the liaison to the Coding & Reimbursement Committee, Industry Relations Center Committee, Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and the Interorganizational Communications and Cooperation Committee. His board liaison assignments also include the affiliate associations of Armed Forces Optometric Society, American Optometric Student Association, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Dr. DeVleming's past board work includes serving as liaison to the Contact Lens and Cornea Section, Federal Relations Committee, Advocacy Committee and Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee.

Dr. DeVleming is a past president of the Optometric Physicians of Washington (OPW) as well as a past president of the Inland Society of OPW.

"As President-elect of the American Optometric Association, I will be committed to communications between members, committees, the board and staff to make sure the association continues to provide the services needed to help members and promote our profession. I also hope to encourage all of us to recognize the great services we provide each day. We are the everyday heroes our patients deserve and an integral part of the health care system. We will continue to show patients through high-quality care, as well as show the government, regulators and other health care professionals the heroes we truly are."

Ronald L. Benner, O.D., of Montana, has filed for the office of AOA vice president after serving on the board since 2015. Currently, Dr. Benner serves as chair of the Finance Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee, Investment Committee, and the 401(k) Committee. He is liaison to the Content Review Board, Education Committee, and the Quality Improvement and Registries Committee. Dr. Benner also is the board liaison to the Council on Research, the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry and to the affiliate associations of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia state affiliates, University of Pikeville College of Optometry and University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. Dr. Benner's past board work includes serving as liaison to the Contact Lens and Cornea Section, Faculty & Student Membership Liaisons, Membership Development Committee, InfantSEE & Children's Vision Committee, Vision Rehabilitation Committee, AOAExcel®, Federal Relations Committee, State Government Relations Committee and Third Party Center Executive Committee. He also served on the AOA-Political Action Committee (AOA-PAC), serving as chair from 2010 to 2015.

Dr. Benner is a past president of the Montana Optometric Association and chair of the board of directors for the Great Western Council of Optometry.

"It has been a privilege to serve this organization. Although COVID presented many challenges, it also opened up opportunities. I am proud to be a part of a board that responded quickly to the challenges to assist the entire profession as well as seizing the opportunities to put the AOA in position to move the contemporary practice of the optometry profession forward. Developing tools and resources that will allow each of us to address the continued challenges in order to succeed in whatever the new normal is will remain a priority. The AOA is the only advocate for the entire profession, and I'm committed to maintaining our strong, unified voice for the profession. No challenge is insurmountable when we work together."

Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi, has filed for the office of AOA secretary-treasurer after serving on the board since 2016. Currently, Dr. Reed serves as liaison to the Investment Committee, Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and Finance Committee. He serves as the liaison trustee to AOAExcel, Paraoptometric Resource Committee, Membership Development Committee, the American Board of Optometry, and the World Council of Optometry. He serves as the board liaison to the state affiliates of Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as the Ohio State University College of Optometry and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Dr. Reed's past board work includes serving as liaison to the Health Policy Institute, New Technology Committee, Sports and Performance Vision Committee, Third Party Center Executive Committee, Faculty and Student Membership Liaisons Committee, State Government Relations Committee, Faculty Resource Committee, Membership Development Committee, and the Contact Lens and Cornea Section.

Previously, Dr. Reed served on the AOA Communications/Public Affairs Committee. He also served as the AOA National Keyperson Coordinator for Mississippi. Dr. Reed is a past president of the Mississippi Optometric Association and the Southwest Optometric Society.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve on the AOA Board of Trustees. Over the past few years, optometry has faced many obstacles and been presented with many opportunities. I want to thank each of you for your confidence in allowing me to work with my fellow board members to navigate these highs and lows for the betterment of our profession. Our focus on contemporary optometry has raised the bar and given each of us as doctors of optometry new pathways for better patient care. Our work is not done though. My promise to you is to continue the good fight for our profession and our patients.

Jacqueline Bowen, O.D., of Colorado, has filed for reelection to the AOA Board of Trustees. Currently, Dr. Bowen serves as a member of the Investment Committee, the Constitution and Bylaws Committee and the Finance Committee, and she has been appointed chair of the AOA Board Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Task Force. She is a liaison trustee to the Education Committee, the Health Policy Institute, the New Technology Committee, the Sports and Performance Vision Committee, the Third-Party Center Executive Committee, and the “See and Be Seen” Task Force. She also is a liaison trustee for The American Board of Optometry. Dr. Bowen's board liaison assignments include affiliate associations in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences School of Optometry, the New England College of Optometry and the State University of New York College of Optometry. Dr. Bowen's past board work includes serving as liaison to the Advocacy Committee, Federal Relations Committee, InfantSEE & Children's Vision Committee, Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation, State Government Relations Committee, Third-Party Center Executive Committee, Commission on Paraoptometric Certification, Coding and Reimbursement Committee, Commission on Ophthalmic Standards, Evidence-Based Optometry Committee, Health Promotions Committee, and the Quality Improvement and Registries Committee.

Dr. Bowen served most recently on the Advocacy and Federal Relations Committees and also was a member of the Professional Relations Committee, serving as its chair from 2007 to 2010.

Dr. Bowen is a past president of the Colorado Optometric Association.

“I believe optometry is in a place of great opportunity. What could have been a disastrous year for our profession became a stunning display of ingenuity, communication, flexibility and an even more solid commitment on the part of the Board of Trustees to lead the AOA into an era of rapid expansion. Personally, I’ve had many opportunities to exercise my skills in building consensus and collaboration, and I’ve worked especially hard at helping to elevate optometry in the eyes of groups outside the AOA. It has been a privilege to serve in AOA leadership, and I am enthusiastic about working hard to advance advocacy at all levels in an unprecedented way.”

Teri K. Geist, O.D., of Nebraska, has filed for reelection to the AOA Board of Trustees. Currently, Dr. Geist is the board liaison for the Advocacy Committee, Federal Relations Committee, Leadership Development Committee, State Government Relations Committee, Vision Rehabilitation Committee, Telehealth Council, Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, National Board of Examiners in Optometry, and Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation. Her liaison assignments include affiliate associations in Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry, and University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry. Dr. Geist's past board work includes serving as liaison to the Commission on Ophthalmic Standards, Commission on Paraoptometric Certification, Health Promotion Committee, Research and Information Resource Team, and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. She also has chaired the AOA Communications and Marketing Executive Committee and served on the Resolutions and Third-Party Center Executive Committees.

Dr. Geist is a past president of the Nebraska Optometric Association, as well as a past president of the North Central States Optometric Council.

“The pandemic has tested our resilience, posing unimaginable challenges to our profession and society. Yet, because of AOA’s, affiliates’ and doctors’ determined advocacy, optometry is stronger than ever. We are at the precipice of greater opportunities and it has been my great honor to serve the profession. I will continue to work hard to advocate and advance contemporary optometry.”

Belinda Starkey, O.D., of Arkansas, has filed for election to the AOA Board of Trustees. Dr. Starkey has served as a member of the AOA’s Industry Relations Committee and the House of Delegates Credentials Committee. She has served on various volunteer committees for the Arkansas Optometric Association, including Nominating Committee, Public Relations Committee, Awards Committee and chaired the Arkansas Optometric Physicians-PAC. Additionally, Dr. Starkey served as treasurer of Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, a coalition group advocating for Arkansas’ scope expansion law, during the recent referendum battle.

Dr. Starkey is a past president of the Arkansas Optometric Association and is currently co-chair of the state legislative committee and founder/chair of Networking Optometric Women.

“I am motivated to serve and have a desire to assist in the fight to PRESERVE, PROMOTE and ADVANCE the profession of optometry. I have served in many different leadership roles throughout my life and feel that I have the drive, experience and dedication to be a positive influence. I would like the opportunity to work alongside some of the most devoted and hardest working people of our profession including the state leaders, volunteers and staff of the AOA and members of the AOA board. I believe optometry must unite as one and stand together no matter the obstacles we face. It would be an honor to represent optometry on the AOA Board of Trustees.”  

Related News

Advocacy from academia

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, the AOA thanks optometric educators for the impact they make on students and the profession and for preparing the doctors of tomorrow.

Mississippi doctor of optometry honored with 2021 InfantSEE® Award

The AOA InfantSEE® and Children’s Vision Committee recognizes Sarah Fratesi, O.D., for raising awareness around children’s eye health and vision care in her Mississippi community. Inspired by a challenge from a former U.S. president, Dr. Fratesi has been an InfantSEE provider since 2005.

Congratulations to AOA’s 2021 award winners

The winners will be honored at a ceremony during the 2021 Optometry’s Meeting®.