Home Newsmakers Leaders 2023 Theia Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

2023 Theia Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

The eighth annual Theia Awards of Excellence will be presented on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, toward the end of the Women In Optometry (WO) Women’s Leadership Conference, held in conjunction with the American Academy of Optometry in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Each year, WO asks readers and friends to submit the names of women who have been extraordinarily influential in the industry. This year, more than 150 nominations were submitted; the WO advisory board votes for the winners.

Here are the 2023 Theia Awards of Excellence Winners. Congratulations to all!


Sandra Block, Theia winner for leadership
Dr. Block

  • President Elect, World Council of Optometry
  • Professor Emeritus, Illinois College of Optometry
  • Former co-chair, National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health
  • Former chair, Vision Care Section
  • Former chair, National Academy of Practice in Optometry
  • Former medical director, school-based vision clinics, Illinois College of Optometry
  • American Public Health Association
  • New England College of Optometry Presidential Medal awardee 2023
  • Helped author first vision report for the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine
  • Global Clinical Advisor, Research and Education, Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes; nominator wrote she “was instrumental in developing the vision program protocols used globally.”
  • Nominator wrote, “Dr. Block has been a leader in optometry her entire career as a professor, mentor and [being] involved in numerous organizations.” 



Dr. Ray Corbin-Simon outside of her office, Theia winner for mentorship
Dr. Corbin-Simon
Ray Corbin-Simon, OD

  • Owner, In Focus Vision Center, Piscataway, New Jersey
  • Consultant, The Power Practice
  • President, New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP)
  • Former chair, Neurolens Advisory Board
  • Former Assistant Clinical Professor, SUNY College of Optometry
  • Nominator wrote, “She dedicates much of her time to helping other practice owners succeed. She helps practice owners navigate the waters of ownership, helping them make more money, have more free time and become more confident leaders.”

photo of Dr. Minal Patel in her office, Theia winner for mentorship
Dr. Patel
Minal Patel, OD

  • Owner of Wink Eyecare Optical, Abingdon, Pennsylvania
  • Nominator wrote, “Dr. Patel is truly passionate about mentoring students and she willingly allows students from Salus University to shadow her. Her kindness and mentorship make a real difference in the lives of aspiring optometrists, helping them pursue their dreams with confidence and determination.”



Dr. Meng Men Xu in black scarf with red polka dots, Theia winner for education
Dr. Xu
Meng Meng Xu, OD, MPH, FAAO

  • Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry and Director of Eyecare Services, South Boston Community Health Center
  • Coordinator, International Programs, New England College of Optometry
  • Research assistant, Center for Health Communication at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Health System Consultant, World Bank Group
  • Former lecturer in Optometry, Mzuzu University, Malawi, Africa
  • Nominator wrote, “She has impacted optometric and development throughout her work and continues to be a fervent advocate for sustainable programs.”



photo of Dr. Shira Kresch against a dark background. Theia winner for Young OD
Dr. Kresch
Shira Kresch, OD, MS, FAAO

  • Owner, Michigan Contact Lens
  • Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
  • Founder and President, Academic Optometry Society (AOS)
  • Program co-chair, Optometric Glaucoma Society (12 original articles, 9 case reports/papers, 3 non-peer reviewed publications)
  • Co-investigator on three studies
  • T35 National Research Award Winner
  • Nominator wrote, “Outside of working full-time in hospital settings, her vision was for a group of ODs from schools, hospitals, etc. to help and learn from each other. SIG (American Academy of Optometry Special Interest Group) has 125 members with 15 optometry schools represented and eight ophthalmology programs.”



Ukti Vora, the nerdy optometrist podcast host, against gray background. She's the theia winner for Industry Influencer
Ukti Vora
Ukti Vora, MBA, MOptom, FAAO

  • Founder and host of the Nerdy Optometrist Podcast
  • Regional Product Manager, Topcon Healthcare
  • Nominator wrote, “Ukti has been actively influencing the industry by bringing some amazing stories in front of the community through her podcast. The channel focuses on talking about the real struggles and inspires so many to never lose hope and constantly try to do your best. Her podcast has brought the global eye care community closer as she has speakers from all around the world.”



Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee in gray dress against gray background. She's the Theia winner for business.
Dr. Shen Lee
Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FEAOO, Dipl ABO

  • CEO and co-founder, Vision Optique & Ocular Aesthetics, Houston, Texas
  • Best Practices of 2018 award winner
  • Medical Director and Principal Investigator, Ocular Aesthetics dba Ocular Clinical Trials
  • Adjust Clinical Instructor, University of Houston College of Optometry
  • Founder, Consultant and Speaker, iTravelCE, “acting as a bridge between the Asian and American/European optical industries.”
  • Former advisory board member and consultant, Essilor
  • Former consultant and speaker, Alcon
  • Nominator wrote, “She has built and grown a successful and thriving business. The office houses the latest technology for ocular surface and dry eye care, ortho-K and scleral lenses. Not only does she spend countless hours providing outstanding care for our patients, but she recently dedicated her weekends to running FDA clinical trials.”


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