I would like to thank the Board of Trustees for the nomination to serve as Academy president. A multitude of forces will impact ophthalmologists in the coming years, and I am excited about the chance to help lead the Academy’s efforts to address future challenges and create new opportunities.
Following my ophthalmology residency at Duke University and further training in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus and neuro-ophthalmology, I spent the next year at King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to put my training to work in such an incredible facility, alongside many outstanding colleagues, fellows and residents, on patients with complex eye diseases and in a new culture was an early career highlight.
My career continued with a return home to North Carolina with Asheville Eye Associates, where I have been fortunate to practice for nearly 30 years. Our experience after acquisition by a physician practice management company in the 1990s and subsequent practice repurchase ignited a new interest: practice administration. I returned to school and obtained a master of health care administration degree, and since 2000 have been the physician administrator of Asheville Eye Associates.
It has been my privilege to assist with the management of our practice, which has grown to include physicians across the spectrum of ophthalmologic subspecialties, optometrists, an optical dispensary, an ambulatory surgery center and multiple practice locations. My degree has provided a framework which has governed my approach to leadership in our practice and the pursuit of excellence in eye care delivery.
The role of the president is to guide the Board of Trustees through its discussion, deliberations and decision-making and thus lead the Academy toward achieving its mission. I was blessed to join a practice which encouraged not only service to our patients but also service to our profession. Service on the boards of the Academy as senior secretary for ophthalmic practice, the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives® (AAOE®), American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) and Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Co. (OMIC), as well as other professional committees, has resulted in exposure to leaders in the field and the range of issues facing our profession. In addition, my day job at my practice has given me the opportunity to think about what it takes to develop a high-performing organization and work with the physicians and staff to further our own mission.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is a special organization with a powerful impact domestically and internationally. I was awestruck by the first annual meeting I attended as a resident in 1987, and I have since learned why. I have encountered many brilliant, imaginative and dedicated people within our profession who are committed to our mission of protecting sight and empowering lives. Certainly, challenges lie ahead, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, I am as optimistic about our future as the first day I began training. My goal is to listen to Academy members and staff and help amplify their talents to reach new heights by working together.
I appreciate your consideration and welcome the opportunity to serve you as president.