Behind the Scenes: The Ravages of Harvey and Irma and Preparing for Academy 2017 Chicago
We’re anxiously looking forward to the Academy meeting next month. Based on the registration pace this week, this might just be our largest meeting ever!
This President’s Calling will focus on the true dedication that makes the Academy so special from a “behind the scenes” perspective, especially when faced with obstacles like hurricanes.
Unfortunately, mother nature has recently wreaked havoc on several parts of the country. Just last week, Hurricane Irma slowed us down a bit. Almost everyone in the Orlando area experienced the hurricane in some fashion; many of our staff were without power for the week. Some still haven’t recovered completely as a result of the damage from high winds, excessive rainfall and flooding. I am happy to report the home office received minimal damage and the power has finally been fully restored. Not to be deterred, our home office personnel are undaunted by the storm’s imposed obstacles and we’re back to full preparation for Academy 2017 Chicago. Our group, working diligently in overdrive, includes a large team of volunteers for committees, Sections and Special Interest Groups (SIGs), our executive director and staff. What has gone on “behind the scenes” in spite of this obstacle is simply incredible.
Throughout the year, in addition to the many hours our staff puts in, our volunteer structure is generous with their time. At the risk of not fully acknowledging each committee, Section and SIG, I’d like to cite some examples of what happens each year “behind the scenes.”
At our annual meeting, some committees spend most of their time in virtual isolation. For example, the Admittance and Nominating Committees spend a good portion of the meeting doing interviews and planning for the next meeting or term. The Lectures and Workshop Committee and the Scientific Program Committee spend most of the annual meeting coordinating the education and scientific program, in addition to their planning responsibilities throughout the year. They rarely have a chance to see the excitement and fruits of their labors during the annual meeting.
There’s a recent event that caught my attention, and relates to the other recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey. We’re all aware of the devastation that transpired with Hurricane Harvey in the Houston and southeast Texas area where some parts of that state received over 50 inches of rain in a short period of time. Knowing that Harvey would likely prevent a quick return home to Houston, Heather Anderson and Kathryn Richdale, two dedicated members of the Academy’s Research Committee, decided to make the trip to Columbus for an Academy Research Committee meeting. They braved Hurricane Harvey’s wrath and subsequently missed an entire week at home with their families, since they couldn’t return home immediately following the ravages of Harvey. That’s the type of dedication that makes the Academy so special – an abundance of passion and commitment from so many members who serve admirably every year.
Thank you, Kathryn and Heather, and to all our volunteers who work so hard for us! The Board of Directors is grateful to every one of you who sacrifice so much to make our annual meeting successful each year. I look forward to thanking our team of volunteers and staff personally at the meeting. See you in Chicago!
Joseph P. Shovlin, OD, FAAO
President, American Academy of Optometry
Banquet Update: As most of you recall we’ve made some changes to the banquet following a recommendation of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee. Due to a drop in attendance the past few years, the Board of Directors decided to make the celebration less formal and somewhat more engaging. At the same time, we don’t want to lose the celebratory mood, since it’s all about recognizing our new Fellows and Diplomates. I’m happy to report that the event is sold out! We always have some attrition, and we will make every attempt to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. If you want to attend but haven't yet purchased a ticket, please check back onsite to see if there is space.