Peter Scott is the American Academy of Optometry’s new executive director. He comes to us through an extensive search and stood out among a cast of stellar applicants. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the search committee who represented each of us in this interesting but difficult project. Sue Cotter, Kerry Giedd, Mark Eger, and Jeffrey Walline listened and questioned, sorted and struggled. On the final day it became very clear. Peter Scott is the person we need.
Peter comes to us from the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC), where he served as Chief Operating Officer. Peter was instrumental in growing their annual meeting at the Orange County Convention Center to almost 18,000 attendees. He managed over 30 employees. Peter has a masters in business administration (MBA), is a certified association executive (CAE) and holds an accreditation in public relations (APR).
At his search interviews, Peter impressed us with his innovative work within the Veterinary Community. He transformed a huge annual meeting to include “Ignite Sessions” that are similar to Ted Talks (the microphone turns off in 15 minutes), more hands on sessions, meet-the-professor interactive talks and Master Courses for advanced learning. He describes these initiatives as ways of making an enormous annual meeting seem small and manageable to attendees. Of great interest to me was the inclusion of professional wellness courses to deal with “compassion fatigue,” one of the growing health professional problems of our day.
When we asked him what he sees as his main role within the Academy, he replied, “My job is to help get rocks out of your way so you can run faster.” He has proven to be a great implementer of great ideas.
His former staff sang his praises in their letters of recommendation. He describes himself as a collaborator, “I drive and push, but I want the staff to have fun and do what they like doing as much as possible. I am willing to take some risks and if someone has an idea they would like to try, I’ll let them test it. I want the staff to feel empowered.”
One of the most interesting innovations that Peter developed within the Veterinary Community was an Innovation Council whose job is to look ahead and determine the opportunities and challenges that the profession will face. He stated thatthe Council was “great for helping both clinicians and researchers think about what is going to be coming at us through innovation and what will affect the practice of veterinary medicine.”
On a personal note I feel that I have come to know Peter a bit. I think he is a little shy and I look forward to learning more about his life and his family. Certainly, he is really smart, sincere and creative.
So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, the one and only Peter Scott. I ask you to keep your eyes open for him at our annual meeting in Orlando October 23-27, 2019. Please introduce yourself and welcome him. It is not everyday that a person is charged with taking over an Academy that is ready to launch itself into a brave new future, bid farewell to a beloved Executive Director and face a centennial celebration.
Peter Scott, we welcome you.
I will close with a verse by W. S. Merwin who recently died old and blind.
“This is our time our season is now the only time / and you must wake and begin / to remember and to know who you are.”
Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO