Special Industy Interview
Lori Lee, director of Optometry's Meeting.
Q: Can you describe your job?
A: I oversee the AOA meeting team. We work closely with numerous stakeholders, including committees, volunteers and other AOA staff. My job consists of trying to meet deadlines and respond to inquiries, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Q: Can you talk about Optometry's Meeting and its programs?
A: Optometry's Meeting is the joint annual meeting of the AOA and AOSA that occurs in a different venue each year. (This enables the Meeting to remain “fresh.” For example, at our last meeting in San Diego, we held an event on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier.) The Meeting, which attracts between 5,000 to 7,000 attendees, offers programs specific to doctors, students of optometry and optometric staff. The exhibit hall showcases the latest in eye care and is a great place to network with our industry partners, O.D.s and students. The Meeting offers more than 50 networking events. Also, we team with industry sponsors to offer informational seminars that are not for CE credit. These always generate a lot of interest, because of the current, cutting edge topics, the chance to network and, of course, the free breakfast or lunch.
Q: Who is on the staff of Optometry's Meeting?
A: The Meetings Department has five other staff members: (1) Kellie Rodrigue is the Exhibits & Marketing manager. She is responsible for the Exhibit Hall and all that is involved in recruiting exhibitors and putting on the expo. (2) Stacy Harris is the Education manager. She is responsible for working with the CE volunteers and developing the CE program. (3) Laura Teasdale is the senior Meeting planner. She is responsible for housing and partners with the AOSA on the student program. (4) Barbara McIntyre is the meetings coordinator. She works with affiliates who request to hold meetings in conjunction with Optometry's Meeting. (5) The convention manager position is currently vacant, though they are responsible for pulling all the pieces together. Beyond the department staff, we also have an amazing group of member volunteers.
AOSA celebrates the Optometry Cares 5K Run/Walk at Optometry's Meeting.
Q: Can you tell me about the CE Committee and their role?
A: The AOA CE committee works diligently throughout the year to create a diverse, progressive and high-quality educational program for Optometry's Meeting. The committee is comprised of nine leaders in optometric education, including one committee chair and eight committee members.
David Zimmerman of UAB tied for first place at the Annual Varilux Optometry Student Bowl at Optometry's Meeting.
Q: How important are the industry partners at Optometry's Meeting?
A: We are able to offer a low package price for Optometry's Meeting due to sponsorship. Industry support allows the AOA to continue to offer outstanding benefits to the attendee, such as grants to provide essential education, the Opening General Session and the Celebration of Optometry.
A bustling floor at Optometry's Meeting.
Q: What is the worst/best thing that has happened at the meeting?
A: One year our keynote speaker became extremely ill shortly before the meeting, and there was the very real possibility of them cancelling. We scrambled to make alternate arrangements and find back-up speaker options. Fortunately, through the help of modern medicine, the advertised keynote speaker recovered sufficiently to make the trip and inspire our audience. The best thing: Most of my best memories involve attendee's positive feedback. A simple “thank you” is better than gold in my book.
Q: What will we see at this year's meeting?
A: CE will start Wednesday afternoon, which means we're adding an additional half-day of CE. Also, student registration will include access to the full O.D. CE program. The Opening General Session will occur Wednesday night (5 p.m.) with a cash bar reception following. Other happenings: There will be a product and technology exchange session at which O.D.s can attend and earn money. Additional announcements and changes can be viewed at www.optometrysmeeting.org.