Home News American Optometric Association Announces 2024 Award Recipients

American Optometric Association Announces 2024 Award Recipients

The American Optometric Association (AOA), American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and Optometry Cares® —The AOA Foundation announced the 2024 recipients of the organizations’ annual awards, including the AOA Excellence awards, AOSA Student of the Year, National Optometry Hall of Fame, Dr. W. David Sullins Jr. InfantSEE® Award, Dr. Jerry P. Davidoff Vision Care Award and Paraoptometric Professional awards.

The AOA thanks its longstanding Visionary Supporter Johnson & Johnson for their recognition of the AOA Excellence Awards recipients. The AOA thanks Alcon for their recognition of the Paraoptometric Professional Awards recipients.

Award recipients will be honored throughout Optometry’s Meeting® in Nashville, Tennessee on June 19-22, 2024. 

AOA Award Winners

AOA 2024 Distinguised service award
Dr. Cook
Andrew Cook, OD (North Carolina) – Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Cook is a 2022 founding participant of the AOA Advocacy Roundtable, an interactive forum for supporters of optometry. Following his role in 1980 as the AOSA National Vice President, Dr. Cook continued his service to optometry through his leadership in the North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS), Southern Council of Optometrists, and the AOA. He is the Past President of NCOS, Southern Council of Optometrists (SECO), and the North Carolina State Board of Optometry. Dr. Cook has received accolades such as the SECO President’s Award and the NCOS Optometrist of the Year/John Costabile Award.

Dr. Matt Jones 2024 AOA OD of the Year
Dr. Jones
Matthew Jones, OD (Arkansas) – Optometrist of the Year

Dr. Jones is a recognized leader in the scope expansion efforts in Arkansas, focusing on access to the highest quality of care for patients across the state, and successfully led the passage of the 2019 scope expansion bill. He also served as a board member of Arkansans for Healthy Eyes, the committee to protect the new law from being placed on the ballot for recall. Dr. Jones is the Past President of the Arkansas Optometric Association, a former Federal Advocacy Representative (FAR) and formerly served on Optometry’s Meeting Committee. He is currently the Legislative Chair for Arkansas Optometric Association, on the AOA-PAC Board of Directors and a member of the AOA’s State Government Relations Committee (SGRC).

Kelly Deering, Young ODs of the Year for 2024
Dr. Deering
Kelly Deering, OD, FAAO (Missouri) – Young Optometrist of the Year

Dr. Deering volunteered to serve as the local society president of the Northwest region of the Missouri Optometric Association (MOA) and recently became a trustee on the MOA Board of Directors in 2021. Her active participation has ranged from championing the MOA rebrand and restructuring to taking an active role in the MOA Scope Committee to modernize the practice of optometry in Missouri. Dr. Deering’s past and recent efforts to advance optometry demonstrate her proactive communication strategies that help bridge gaps and unite the profession with a common goal.


Dr. Jeffrey Walline - educator of the year
Dr. Walline
Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD. (Ohio) – Optometric Educator of the Year

Dr. Walline is the current Dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and previously served as Chair of the Research and Graduate Studies Committee and was an Associate Dean of Research. Throughout his tenure at OSU, Dr. Walline has led several pediatric contact lens studies to evaluate the effect of contact lens wear on myopia progression and children’s self-perceptions. At the AOA level, Dr. Walline was a member of the AOA’s Council on Research, is Immediate Past Chair of the AOA Council for the Cornea and Contact Lens Section and is a member of the Food and Drug Administration Myopia Control Review Taskforce.



AOSA Student Award Winner

Maggie Dunn, AOSA of the year
Maggie Dunn
Maggie Dunn

Dunn is currently in her third year at the Ohio State University College of Optometry. As President of her college’s chapter of AOSA, Maggie is an active leader in Ohio’s advocacy efforts to modernize optometric scope of practice. She actively engaged and educated legislators on the depth and breadth of optometric education at Ohio Optometric Association’s Optometry Day at the Statehouse. Maggie also works with pre-optometry students as a “Big Sibling” and has been a member of Optometry Ambassadors since 2021.


Awards administered through Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation

National Optometry Hall of Fame

Dr. Joe Ellis
Dr. Ellis
Joe Ellis, OD

Dr. Ellis a past president of the AOA  and has been practicing full-scope optometry in since 1986. He has earned the Expanded Therapeutic Procedures certification and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. Dr. Ellis is a passionate advocate for access to care and currently the Advocacy chair on the Medical Executive Board at EyeCare Partners.

Dr. Janus
Siret Jaanus, MS, PhD

Dr. Jaanus has played an extensive role in leading optometric education and advancing vision research. She has made significant contributions to the understanding of ocular pharmacology and co-authored dozens of publications. She helped introduce and expand courses in general and ocular pharmacology at Southern California College of Optometry and other schools and colleges of optometry across the U.S. This was a result of legislation enacted in 1976 in California in part because of the highly successful and tireless efforts of Dr. Jaanus, who met with legislators and testified before committees in California and several other states.

Dr. Bernay
Deborah Bernay, OD

Dr. W. David Sullins, Jr., InfantSEE Award

Dr. Bernay has served as the Texas State Leader for InfantSEE since its inception in 2004. She promotes InfantSEE throughout the state by educating doctors and students at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Dr. Bernay is passionate about infant vision and feels promoting InfantSEE is optometry’s gift to the youngest population. She currently serves on the board for the College’s Foundation for Education and Research in Vision and is a diplomat in the American Board of Optometry.


Dr. Jerry P. Davidoff Vision Care Award

Dr. Stelmack
Joan Stelmack, OD, MPH

Dr. Jerry P. Davidoff Vision Care Award 

Dr. Stelmack is Director of Low Vision Service at the University of Illinois Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Dr. Stelmack has collaborated on 23 funded research studies and in the role of principal research investigator, she has received over four million dollars in research funding. She has authored over 47 journal articles and presented over 155 scientific papers, posters and lectures.



Paraoptometric Professional Awards

Savanna Johnson
Savanna Johnson, CPOA – Paraoptometric of the Year

Savanna Johnson, CPOA, received the Mississippi Optometric Association 2023 Paraoptometric of the Year Award as well as the 2023 Paraoptometric Community Service Award. Savanna consistently devotes her time to improving her skills as a paraoptometric and was one of only 21 paraoptometrics to earn the CPOA credential.

Shelby Miller
Shelby Miller, CPO – Paraoptometric Community Service

Shelby Miller, CPO, is a dedicated member of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) and has created presentations for recruitment. In 2023, she received the Wisconsin Optometric Association scholarship to attend the Summer 2023 VOSH mission trip to Ecuador to provide eye care to those in need.

Sally Greeley
Sally Greeley, CPOT – Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement Award

Sally Greeley, CPOT, has worked in eye care for over 30 years and served on the Maine Paraoptometric Association Board for 10 years. Her focus on the value of education led her to the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) where she continued to encourage paraoptometrics to become certified. Sally is referred to as a mentor within the CPC and has been acknowledged for her selfless work and determination.



Registration for Optometry’s Meeting is currently open and offering early bird registration rates until April 1.

Featured photo credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Ekaterina Vakhrameeva

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