Merton C. Flom Leadership Academy


In the early 1990’s, Dr. Merton C. Flom recognized the need for the cultivation and development of a leadership culture within the American Academy of Optometry.  In such a culture there is an appreciation of leadership as a learnable process whose function is to produce useful change, not only within the Academy but also at work, in other organizations, and in one's personal life.

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In 1994, the Academy introduced the Merton C. Flom Leadership InSight program to provide leadership training courses to Fellows, Candidates, and Student Members at the annual meeting as well as registrants in the Ellerbrock CE program. From its inception through 2020, this program provided basic and advanced leadership courses to almost 900 attendees.

In 2020 as part of the leadership pillar of the AAO Strategic Plan, a series of virtual modules on leadership were proposed. It was agreed to integrate these eight modules into an extensively revised and expanded Merton C. Flom Leadership InSight program. This revised program was initiated at the 2021 Annual Meeting which was followed by a virtual leadership module presented approximately every six weeks.


Inspiring leadership in optometry and vision science.


Through education and mentorship, the Leadership Academy will cultivate ethical, empathetic, and innovative leaders who contribute positively to the optometric community.

Values and Goals

Develop a deep understanding of your core identity and value your unique talents

Harness your talents to positively influence others and encourage innovation

Nurture aspiring leaders to become role models and mentors

Foster ethical, empathetic leadership to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion

Provide opportunities for networking to establish life-long professional relationships

Course Description

The Merton C. Flom InSight Leadership Academy is designed to help optometrists develop their full leadership potential through guided individual study, facilitated discussion, and optimization of their personal talents identified through the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment.

The Leadership Academy begins with a live introductory course entitled “Know Yourself:  Foundations for Effective Leadership” (scheduled during the annual Academy meeting). Over the course of the following year, course participants will participate in 8 learning modules, each of which is led by an established leader within the optometric community. For each module, reading materials, pre-recorded lectures, and/or other audio-visual content will be assigned to promote self-directed learning prior to a live virtual session. Virtual sessions will be held approximately every 6 weeks throughout the year, and will feature interactive discussion with course faculty and fellow participants to more deeply explore topics of interest. Topics to be covered in the learning modules include the following:

  • Principles of Effective Leadership Part 1 - January 5, 2023
  • Principles of Effective Leadership Part 2 - February 2, 2023
  • Embracing Diversity in Leadership - March 9, 2023
  • Effective Communication in Leadership - April 20, 2023
  • Leader’s Guide to Productive Meetings - June 1, 2023
  • Public Speaking for Leaders - July 13, 2023
  • Writing Skills for Leaders - August 17, 2023
  • Mentorship: Present and Future Leaders - September 21, 2023

The course will conclude with a live Capstone Celebration at the following year’s Academy meeting.


Applications for the 2022-2023 course will be open on June 1, 2022.  Potential course participants must either be a Fellow or a Candidate for Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry.

Completed applications must be received by August 1, 2022 at 5 pm ET. Successful course participants will be notified of their acceptance by September 12, 2022, and will be asked to respond to the invitation to participate no later than September 26, 2022.