President's Calling - Call for Volunteers

Published June 18, 2018

Since its founding, the American Academy of Optometry has relied on thousands of amazing and dedicated volunteers to make it one of the most highly efficient and supportive professional organizations around. Our dedicated board of directors, executive director, and staff lead and support the vibrant crew of volunteers in a myriad of different roles. Volunteers do the work for sixteen fully operational committees, eight Sections, seven Special Interest Groups (SIGS), the OVS Editorial Board and several ad hoc committees and task forces that are established throughout any given term. Currently the Academy proudly boasts over 250 volunteers that keep our operation running at full steam.

Volunteers work tirelessly year-round to prepare for the Academy’s activities including an incredibly successful annual meeting and renowned journal. Some volunteers have responsibilities for publications, some coordinate student activities, some work tirelessly to prioritize research initiatives, many review candidates' written work, and others raise money for the important programs of the Academy’s Foundation. Volunteers expend a staggering number of hours each year supporting their professional organization. I’d like to know the actual number of hours, but it seemingly is an impossible task as volunteers work without credit or pay!

My first Academy appointment was with the Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies nearly 30 years ago. Way back then we were known as the Section on Cornea and Contact Lenses (there was no refractive technology then). The experience I had with the Section was enormously rewarding. Being around such talented folks was incredible and interfacing with other individuals with a common interest was both informative and challenging. Eventually, I was able to lead the Section – and that experience became one of my most rewarding Academy experiences – second only to now leading this great organization as president.

Barbara Caffery, president-elect of the Academy, is calling for volunteers this month for the next two-year term. The term starts immediately after the annual meeting in San Antonio, TX and runs through the 2020 annual meeting in Nashville, TN. The Academy generally has little trouble filling these vital roles. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Unfortunately, there are only so many slots available. However, if you are interested in volunteering don’t get discouraged or fail to express interest. If you are interested, I encourage you to notify Bonnie Rizzo ( by sending your CV and specific areas or committees of interest. You can learn more about the Academy's committees online.
We are incredibly fortunate to have so many dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers that help move projects and programs throughout the year. I want to personally thank all the talented volunteers who have served for the past term. Many have served for multiple terms of service and have worked on several different committees. Without your true dedication to the Academy we would not be the organization that we are today – the premiere education and research association in optometry.


Joseph P. Shovlin, OD, FAAO

PS: Remember, signing on doesn’t have to be a multi-term commitment. But in many cases the Academy volunteer has to be coaxed off due to 10-year term limits because they love the experience!