The sixth annual Theia Awards of Excellence were presented on Nov. 2, 2021, toward the end of the Women In Optometry (WO) Women’s Leadership Conference, held in conjunction with the American Academy of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts.
Each year, WO asks readers and friends to submit the names of women who have been extraordinarily influential in the industry. Each year, hundreds of women ODs are nominated, and the WO advisory board votes for the winners.
Here are the 2021 honorees.
Sherrol Reynolds, OD, is an associate professor and chief of advanced ophthalmic care and specialty testing, The Eye Care Institute, at NOVA Southeastern College of Optometry. Dr. Reynolds served two terms as president of the National Optometric Association, where she introduced new programs and helped restructure the NOA during her terms. She’s a regular contributor to research articles, is involved in domestic and international community outreach and is a beloved mentor, wife and mother.
The award was presented by 2016 Theia award winner Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS, FBCLA.
Anna Marie Fernandez, OD, of Staten Island, New York, is a member of the Family of Mentors program at SUNY Optometry and has received the Mentor of the Year Award for her exemplary service. Her mentees stay with her long past the year and become valued members of her expansive network. During her term as alumni association board president she began a student engagement series of events to connect them with their alumni community. She started the One Step Closer to Graduation snack break (during mid-term and finals exams) tradition of serving stressed students coffee/tea, donuts and a huge dose of support and encouragement. Through her innovative programs and hands on approach she increased the visibility of the alumni community as a support system to students.
Lauretta Justin, OD, of Orlando, Florida, is the founder of Optometry Divas, a networking group with about 1,300 members on Facebook and a committed group who attend events. Optometry Divas recently launched a scholarship program for third-optometry students, which links not just the winner but all applicants with a mentor in an area of the profession in which they have an interest. Dr. Justin is committed to supporting, empowering, inspiring and engaging women ODs with powerful business acumen and willingness to provide substantial resources to her community. She also owns a private practice in Orlando.
Melissa Bailey, OD, PhD, is an associate professor at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Optometry. She received her doctorate of optometry and PhD in vision science from. Dr. Bailey’s research career is devoted to developing new technologies for use in eye care as well as studying the role of the ciliary muscle in the development of myopia and accommodative function in children. In 2015, Dr. Bailey was selected as the Early Career Innovator of the Year at The Ohio State University for her work in developing patented methods for measuring the ciliary muscle. She is currently working with two OSU startup companies, one of which, Lentechs, is developing a novel, patented, bifocal contact lens designed by Dr. Bailey in collaboration with Joseph T Barr, OD, MS, OSU Professor Emeritus. Drs. Bailey and Barr secured an Accelerator Award from The Ohio State University to develop this technology.
Neda Gioia, OD, CNS, FOWNS (Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society) is a pioneer in introducing nutraceuticals into clinical practice. Her practice, Integrative Vision in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, lets in her practice model and patented testing is revolutionary. Her practice, Integrative Vision, combines functional medicine and nutrition, focusing on whole body health and the power of the body to heal itself. She offers her patients an add-on consultation of about 25 minutes during which she’ll review the patient’s supplements and key nutrition recommendations and the results of a complimentary antioxidant palm score reader.
The award was presented by Breanne McGhee, OD, MEd, PhDEL, the 2020 winner of the Theia Young OD award.
Carol Alexander, OD, is the head of professional relations at Johnson & Johnson Vision. She recently received the Ohio State University 2020 Distinguished Alumna Award, and she has won many other awards and recognition in her career. She is active in advocacy on state and federal levels. Her leadership has helped strengthen relationships with international industry and optometry and the value of doctors of optometry to the public’s health. At Johnson & Johnson Vision, she has lead advocacy for optometric eye and health care and raised the visibility of current and future doctors of optometry within key industry areas.
Bita Asghari, OD, FAAO, has been practicing just five years, but in that time, she has proven herself to be to publishing and providing education and mentoring to students and residents. She is an adjunct Clinical Faculty at the New England College of Optometry (NECO) and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University School of Optometry. She is one of only 31 BostonSight PROSETM Clinical Fellows worldwide and now contributes to the development and delivery of fellowship curriculum, addressing the treatment, management and prosthetic device design, for patients with challenging ocular surface disease. She is a frequent lecturer and writer and a member of the Intrepid Eye Society, American Optometric Association and Scleral Lens Education Society.
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