Women in Optometry Summit Highlighted by Amina AlTai’s Keynote Talk

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ST. LOUIS—Keynote speaker Amina AlTai provided informed professional and personal advice and addressed the idea of “being one’s authentic self” at the inaugural Women In Optometry’s “Flex Your Superpowers” summit session. The event was held in mid-June at the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry, just ahead of the opening of the annual Optometry’s Meeting in downtown St. Louis.

Approximately 100 eyecare professionals, industry executives and other guests attended the event. “I believe that living our best personal life and living our best professional life are intrinsically tied,” said AlTai, who led three separate sessions during the course of the meeting.

She noted that early in her career she became so strongly focused on her work that she was unable to describe to a life coach what “joy” meant to her. She also acknowledged that she had moved away from developing relationships outside of the workplace. “We very clearly got to see that my relationship with work was very much impacting my personal life, as well,” she noted.

She said what helped her, in part, to change direction was the meaning she took from the quotation attributed to Brene Brown: “Believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and perfect.”

Dori M. Carlson, OD, FAAO, the first woman OD to become president of the American Optometric Association, moderated one of the session’s panel discussions. The panelists were Mamie Chan, OD, former president of the New Mexico Optometric Association; Sherrol Reynolds, OD, FAAO, president of the National Optometric Association, and Rachael Wruble, OD, FAAO, vice president of the North Carolina Optometric Society.

A second panel included moderator Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS, a specialty lens expert, lecturer, mentor and advocate for women in the profession; Mary Anne Murphy, OD, who practices in her successful Colorado eyecare location, and Maria Sampalis, OD, who launched the 25,000-member strong Corporate Optometry group on Facebook.

Allergan was the lead sponsor of the half-day meeting, and CooperVision provided platinum sponsorship. CooperVision’s Jennifer Palombi and Allergan’s Marcy DeWalt also provided a few thoughts to the attendees, with DeWalt addressing the idea of “pushing the envelope forward” in an effort to advance eyecare. Palombi spoke about the importance of finding balance across both the professional and personal aspects of one’s life.