• Successful ophthalmic practices are led by effective leaders.


    AAOE’s Ophthalmic Practice Administrators Leadership (OPAL) Program is designed to move you to the next level of your professional growth. Work one-on-one with a mentor, develop a unique project and showcase your leadership skills at a special event during the Academy's annual meeting. 

    Cohort 2020-21 Candidate Application
     (PDF)
    OPAL has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
    Contact aaoe.org for questions regarding OPAL.

    The Three E’s of Leadership Excellence

    The OPAL program is based on the three E’s of Leadership Excellence: Educate, Engage, Execute.

    Educate: Effective leadership requires continually investing in your professional development and sharing the benefits of what you learn with your colleagues.

    Engage: Great leadership is a team sport. This program provides you with an opportunity to build your collaborative skills within a cohort. As an OPAL participant, you’ll develop a leadership project that meets your needs. However, you’ll have the support of your cohort and mentors.

    Execute: The ability to identify and successfully launch project initiatives is a required skill for any leader. Participants will present their leadership projects at the Academy's annual meeting.

    OPAL program participation will give you the keys to develop your own leadership skills, drive efficiency in your practice, and make meaningful contributions to the profession of ophthalmology.

    What You’ll Learn and Time Commitment

    As an OPAL participant, you’ll learn how to:

    • Communicate effectively through a variety of channels.
    • Keep your practice on track and in sync with your vision.
    • Employ different approaches for leveraging collaborative partnerships that contribute to your practice goals.
    • Create a clear roadmap using essential change management strategies.

    Your participation in the OPAL program will take approximately 10 to 15 hours a month, depending on the scope of your leadership project. You’ll need to be present for bimonthly calls and out-of-the-office time at mandatory meetings. You will also design and complete a leadership project from January to July and present it at a special event at the annual meeting.

    Professional Recognition

    As an OPAL participant, you'll receive an OPAL certificate of completion and be recognized in the following:

    • Practice Management Express
    • AAOE website
    • AAOE General Session at the Academy's annual meeting

    Participation Criteria and Program Costs

    Eligible participants must:

    • Be responsible for high-level management of an ophthalmic practice.
    • Have a minimum of three to five years’ experience as an ophthalmic practice administrator.
    • Have a demonstrated interest to pursue leadership development.
    • Be committed to participate in all required sessions and meetings.
    • Acquire support from the practice to participate in the OPAL Program.

    Participation Costs

    • Costs for travel, meals and housing at:
      • AAO 2020 (Nov. 14-17, Las Vegas, Nev., Sands Expo/Venetian)
      • Ophthalmology Business Summit 2021 (Spring 2021, City TBD)
      • AAO 2021 (Nov. 13-16 - New Orleans, La., Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
    • Cost of Academy Course Pass at AAO 2020
    • Any additional OPAL project associated costs will be the responsibility of the participant.

    Note: Registration fees for AAO 2020, OBS 2021 and AAO 2021 sponsored by AAOE.

    Cohort 2019-2020 Participant Schedule-At-A-Glance


    Note: Attendance at program events is mandatory.

    Oct. 11-15, 2019 Program kick-off at AAO 2019, San Francisco, Calif., Moscone Center
    • Attend OPAL program mentoring session
    • Attend AAOE instruction courses
    Dec. 2019 Project identification and approval
    • Identify a gap or need within your practice and develop a written proposal based upon that need. The written proposal must include: a project description, rationale, stakeholders, milestones, expected outcomes and success measures.
    • Once your project proposal is approved you will be assigned to a mentor based upon on your proposal.
    Jan.-July 2020 Cohort calls and monthly check-ins
    • January: Submit project completion timelines to your mentor(s) and determine how and when you’ll do your mentor check-in.
    • February-July: Attend a series of three 90-minute cohort calls and participate in monthly check-in calls with your mentor.
    March 14-15, 2020 Ophthalmology Business Summit – Chicago, Ill., Loews Chicago O’Hare 
    • Attend an OPAL-only pre-summit meeting
    • Attend regular OBS sessions.
    July-Aug. 15, 2020 Final project review, completion and sign-off
    • July: OPAL participants to send completed project report to mentors.
    • Aug. 1-10: Final project sign-off (teleconference).
    • Aug. 15: Project completed
    Aug. 16-Nov. 13, 2020 AAO 2020 presentation preparation
    • OPAL participants prepare their AAO 2020 project presentation.
    Nov. 14-17, 2020 AAO 2020, Las Vegas, Nev., Sands Expo/Venetian
    • Recognition of your completed leadership project at the AAOE General Session at AAO 2020.
    • Opportunity to present your final completed OPAL project at the AAOE Practice Management Program.
    • Welcome and orient the incoming AAOE OPAL program cohort.

    Become an OPAL Mentor

    OPAL MentorMentors are core to the OPAL Program.


    As a mentor, you’ll assist your OPAL participant by reviewing a project proposal and helping to set realistic project outcomes and milestones. Mentors are available via email to answer questions and meet monthly with their OPAL participants via one-hour teleconferences for project check-ins. Mentors will also review and sign off on final projects.

    The OPAL program culminates with project participant presentations at the Academy's annual meeting and a special Academy-hosted event to welcome the incoming cohort of OPAL participants.

    Cohort 2020-21 Mentor Application - OPAL has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. Contact aaoe.org for questions regarding OPAL.

    OPAL Mentor Schedule-At-A-Glance

    January

    • Proposal Review Teleconference
    • First Monthly Mentor/OPAL Participant Call

    January-July

    • 1-hour monthly teleconferences and ongoing communication via emails

    March

    • OPAL participants attend courses at the Ophthalmology Business Summit (mentor attendance optional)

    July

    • OPAL participants complete their projects
    • Mentors review their OPAL participants’ final projects and send them their review comments

    August-September

    • Projects are completed
    • OPAL participants work on their Annual Meeting presentation

    October/November

    • OPAL participants present their projects at the Academy's annual meeting
    • OPAL participants and mentors attend and participate in a welcoming event for the incoming OPAL cohort

    Contact Us

    For more information about the Ophthalmic Practice Administrators Leadership Program, email aaoe@aao.org.