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Opticians Association of America

At-A-Glance Welcome to OAA at a Glance We are proud to offer this special edition insert in EyeCare Professional magazine. This insert is just one more way the Opticians Association of America continues to effectively communicate with opticians as we grow and strengthen as an industry. I hope you are encouraged by what you read and will not only provide feedback but will get involved by becoming a member of OAA. In order to have a strong national organization working on behalf of opticians, it is imperative that everyone get involved. The Opticians Association of America has been very proactive over the past few months. OAA has recently hired Chris Allen to lead the organization as Executive Director. Mr. Allen’s past experiences have included several leadership roles, including a position on the staff of former U. S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN), executive director of the Hardwood Forest Foundation, executive director of the Hardwood Federation—the nation’s largest forest products association, and executive director of MPACT Memphis. After almost a year of careful deliberation, the OAA Board of Directors relocated the OAA National Headquarters from Virginia to Memphis, Tennessee. OAA made this strategic move to take advantage of a central location with a cost-effective environment for the organization to grow and prosper. The move will allow more opticians to have better access to our numerous services and benefits. Everyone is excited about the move and we feel very confident OAA will flourish in Tennessee.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Tom Hicks, HFOAA Oxford, Ohio 1st Vice President Diane Charles, HFOAA Shoreline, Washington 2nd Vice President Shirley Earley, HFOAA Loveland, Ohio

Secretary-Treasurer Mike Szczerbiak, HFOAA Durham, North Carolina Immediate Past President Mark F. Cloer, HFOAA Jackson, Mississippi Guild Council Chairman Douglas Brookhart, HFOAA Kettering, Ohio Directors Thomas Barracato, HFOAA Akron, Ohio

OAA also recently held the 24th Annual State Leadership Conference in New Orleans, LA. Under the theme “The Future is Now,” the leaders from over 20 states and Canada attended educational seminars and topic specific breakout sessions that addressed subjects from growing membership numbers and legislative affairs to hosting meetings and communication synergy. The conference is the only event that attracts such a large group of state leaders to learn from one another, make new connections within the industry and obtain the latest techniques in association management. As you can tell, OAA continues to move forward to serve opticians around the country by promoting opticianry though education, legislation, and communication. Please visit our web page at to see the many programs that are offered from on-line education, study and reference materials for the ABO and NCLE exams, a job bank, and our legislative center especially for OAA members. You can also register for the 2009 National Opticians Convention, which will take place from September 10–13 in Cincinnati, Ohio in conjunction with the ABO/NCLE National Education Meeting and don’t forget to check the OAA box, so that you have access to all the OAA functions. We look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati in September!

Tom Hicks OAA President

Sandy Brown, HFOAA Louisville, Kentucky Russell B Fritz, Jr., HFOAA Hamden, Connecticut Bob Reynolds, HFOAA Atlanta, Georgia Roxanne Slancik, HFOAA Saginaw, Michigan C. Jeanine Solomon Houston, Texas

Opticians Association of America 4064 E Fir Hill Drive Lakeland, TN 38002

Tel: 901.388.2423 Fax: 901.388.2348



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States in Attendance Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, & Canada

The Guild was established by highly skilled true craftsmen of the optical industry. Becoming recognized as a Guild Optician is a very satisfying accomplishment. Today, the Guild has the role of mentoring opticians. It is the Guild’s role to help with the skills and knowledge needed to become the independent optician of tomorrow. We need to keep strong quality independent opticians alive and well. Without them, we risk a reduction of quality standards in the optical industry. Guild membership provides a great sense of accomplishment; however with membership comes the responsibility of holding the optical industry to the high standard that it has proven it is capable of providing.

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24th Annual Leadership Conference by Bob Reynolds, ABOC, HFOAA Leaders from over 20 states and Canada attended the 24th Annual State Leadership Conference held January 2931 at Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans. Hosted by the Opticians Association of America, the conference gives opticians

an opportunity to gather for the purpose of networking with the goal of strengthening their state societies. Industry leaders shared information and techniques on topics of interest ranging from getting legislation passed to writing grants and press releases. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Future is Now” and focused on the skills and techniques required to facilitate stronger relationships within the state societies.

hopes to continue the growth and success of recent years and continue to represent the goals of opticianry in the future.

One of the highlights of the Leadership Conference every year is the presentation of the State Leader of the Year Award. This year the award went to OAA Past President Mark Cloer from Jackson, MS. Also honored for their extraordinary dedication to opticianry were Jim Boggs of Cleveland, Mississippi and Elmo Spellman of Metairie, Louisiana, recipients of the 2009 Presidential Service Award.

OAA also used the occasion to introduce its new Executive Director, Chris Allen from Lakeland, TN, just outside of Memphis. Under his direction, OAA




Advancing Today’s Optician


The Opticians Association of America held its Annual State Leadership Conference on January 30 and 31, 2009 at the Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. We applaud and graciously extend thanks to our sponsors.

FRIENDS OF OAA Your support created an environment that was instrumental in allowing all the attendees to obtain new ideas, participate in specialized break-out sessions, learn new skills, and share those ideas with their peers throughout the State Societies.

ARE YOU AN HONORED FELLOW? If not, go to the OAA website ( and upgrade your membership to exhibit your increasing dedication to the opticianry industry and your national association.



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Introduction of OAA’s Executive Director First let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Allen and I have recently been named Executive Director of the Opticians Association of America (OAA). It is a sincere honor to have been chosen to lead OAA and it is my hope that my twelve-plus years of professional experience in dealing with public relations, fundraising, government affairs, event management, executive leadership and general business administration in the non-opticianry field will bring a fresh perspective and approach to better serve the members of this historic association and the industry as a whole. With the U. S. economic outlook being bleak for the coming year, the question being asked by most opticians is what can I expect over the next few years? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the optical field is expected to grow between 7 to 13 percent through 2016. As the majority of the U. S. population begins to fall between the middle age to elderly categories, a demand for more corrective lenses and vision care will be a necessity, thus requiring more optical services to address those needs. In addition, as awareness about eye care increases, the importance of regular eye exams across all age groups is becoming more evident. A growing number of states

Ensuring that our perspective and expertise are considered when laws and regulations affecting the opticianry industry are crafted requires a strong network of politically interested members. I encourage you to join with other OAA members and help advance government decisions that are in the best interest of our industry by visiting the OAA Legislative Action Center. This online legislative tool allows opticians to get involved with current legislation and do it easily. The point is don’t be reactive anymore be proactive and we can once again restore our profession to its past stature and glory. Please visit for more information.

require children, as young as five, to get eye exams, which will increase the need for optical services. Another area of growth for opticians is the consumer’s desire to be more fashionable. As frames continue to be produced in a growing variety of styles, colors, and sizes, this trend encourages people to buy more than one pair. Consumers want to have better vision, but they also want to “look good” during the process. As they say, “recessions are temporary, education is permanent.” For those opticians who choose to participate in formal opticianry classes and master new technology, including new surfacing systems, frame materials, and edging techniques, will have the best opportunity for growth during the current economic downturn. The Opticians Association of America serves as the only national organization dedicated to representing opticianry’s business, professional, educational, legislative and regulatory interests. This is especially important during these tough economic times. OAA will, as always, continue to serve its members to ensure that opticians everywhere will prevail through these difficult times and are prepared to meet the needs of consumers when they open up their pocket books again. I have incredible faith in OAA and the industry not only endures this recession, but also to serve as an example to other industries in how to do it. Best wishes for a successful year!



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OAA Membership Plan

4064 E Fir Hill Drive, Lakeland, TN 38002 Tel: 901.388.2423 • Fax: 901.388.2348

WHY JOIN OAA? Through OAA, opticianry’s professionals have a strong voice in shaping legislation and regulation at the national level, and an effective partner in activities at the state level. OAA fosters, supports and sponsors programs of competency certification, licensing and continuing education for professional development. OAA membership is a solid investment in your future and in the future of opticianry.

The OAA would like to thank the Sponsors who helped make this Issue happen.


Opticians Association of American Insert