The new AOA officers for 2020-2021 (top row, left to right) are President William T. Reynolds, OD, (Kentucky), President-elect Robert C. Layman, OD, (Ohio), Vice President James P. DeVleming, OD, (Washington), Secretary-Treasurer Ronald L. Benner, OD, (Montana) and immediate Past President Barbara L. Horn, OD, (South Carolina).

In the bottom row (left to right) are AOA trustees Steven T. Reed, OD, of Mississippi, Jacqueline Bowen, OD, Colorado, Lori L. Grover, OD, PhD, of Illinois, Teri K. Geist, OD, of Nebraska, Terri A. Gossard, OD, of Ohio and Curtis A. Ono, OD, of Washington.
ST. LOUIS—Facing the challenging times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the American Optometric Association this week said it was able to make a “historic response” and conduct the election for its 2020-2021 board of trustees via a virtual ballot. The move was necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic, which forced the AOA to cancel Optometry's Meeting 2020. In a special June 22 webinar broadcast profession-wide, the AOA announced its 2020-2021 board after affiliate members cast electronic ballots, validated and tallied by the accounting firm BKD.

Live election results were watched by nearly 300 individuals across the profession, according to AOA’s announcement about the election.

With Optometry’s Meeting 2020 at National Harbor in Maryland/Washington, D.C., canceled, AOA noted that many key elements of the profession's important meeting had to be reconfigured virtually, including the board election and a reimagined online education experience, the AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast.

As part of this one-time rearrangement, the AOA also will host a board installation ceremony via profession-wide webinar on Saturday, June 27, to formally recognize the newly elected officers and trustees.

The results of AOA's 2020-2021 board election are:

The 2020-2021 officers

President: William T. Reynolds, OD, (Kentucky)
President-elect: Robert C. Layman, OD, (Ohio)
Vice president: James P. DeVleming, OD, (Washington)
Secretary-treasurer: Ronald L. Benner, OD, (Montana)
Immediate past president: Barbara L. Horn, OD, (South Carolina)

Trustees for 2020-2021

Terri A. Gossard, OD, (Ohio) and Curtis A. Ono, OD, (Washington).

AOA noted that although they were not up for election this year, the following members continue to serve as AOA trustees: Jacqueline Bowen, OD, Colorado; Teri K. Geist, OD, of Nebraska; Lori L. Grover, OD, PhD, of Illinois; and Steven T. Reed, OD, of Mississippi.

In opening remarks for the AOA's virtual election, outgoing president Dr. Horn acknowledged the great opportunity for optometry's banner year—2020–and the early successes from the AOA's ambitious, multi-pronged awareness campaign centered on the essentialness of routine eyecare from doctors of optometry.

"We built tremendous momentum coming into 2020 to position the profession of optometry and ensure that every American made eye health and vision care a priority by getting an eye exam with an AOA doctor of optometry-and we made great strides," Dr. Horn told attendees.

In partnership with affiliates, the innovative “Start with Eye” campaign encouraged Americans to prioritize their eye health and engaged more than 50 organizations, accounting for nearly 375,000 employees and reaching more than 15 million member individuals, in an employer pledge to make comprehensive eye exams part of their annual health routine. So, too, Dr. Horn highlighted a successful, first-ever initiative to host AOA board meetings on optometry campuses, engaging students and faculty at five schools nationwide.

"As we all know, the strong movement we had in the first couple months of 2020 was cut short," Dr. Horn said. "We read news stories and watched through January and February as a foreign virus quickly became an international health issue. Into March, it became the pandemic that has changed our work and lives in ways we still don't fully comprehend. The illness we, today, wearily refer to as COVID-19 has caused us all to reflect on what was and what is going to be moving forward."