President's Calling - Leadership and Legacy

Published February 28, 2020

Leadership and Legacy

Dear Academy Membership,
"But will they come, when you do call for them?"- Hotspur – from Shakespeare's King Henry IV part 1

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Dear Academy Membership, 
In a few weeks, there will be an important gathering of individuals in Dallas, Texas. There, leaders of every Academy Section, SIG, and committee will meet with the Academy and Foundation Boards of Directors, the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee, and the staff of the Academy. We are going to share details of the Strategic Plan, create ways within each group to implement these initiatives and share successes and challenges. To my knowledge, this is the first group assembly of this Academy, and we are calling it our Leadership Summit.
As we reviewed the list of invitees, the board was awed by the level of intelligence, commitment, and expertise of these leaders. I was reminded of Lois Schoenbrun returning from a not-for-profit Executive Directors' conference and saying how proud she was that she could state with confidence that we have more volunteers than we have positions. Others are asking for ways to encourage volunteers while we are creating new posts to fulfill our volunteerism.
This topic of volunteerism was a significant part of the Leadership and Legacy (L and L) subcommittee of our Strategic Plan and remains a mainstay of that pillar.
What is it that makes our members so generous with their time and talents? What inspires this tremendous wave of effort?
I can think of a few things. There is the love factor. Past President, Bernie Dolan, said it all the time: "People love this Academy." Why is that? Perhaps this Academy represents everything we, as optometrists, want to be: inspired, excellent in our care, diligent in our research. Maybe it allows us to dream: to dream of eliminating preventable blindness in the world, to dream of providing all citizens with evidence-based eye care. You can supply your own reasons, but whatever they are, do not lose them. Keep the faith.
A significant effort under the L and L Pillar is to create new forms of volunteerism. We envision micro-volunteers who work on small projects like reviewing the literature for significant research findings that will be distributed to members. We will name new Fellows as interns on all committees so that they can have a sense of what goes on as the volunteer engines of the Academy hum steadily in the background. They will learn of the hours that are spent on award nominations, candidate case reports, submissions for research funds, Diplomate protocols, applications for the research booth, and decisions on symposium topics.
And let us not forget that volunteer positions are two-year terms. In October of 2020, Tim McMahon will become Academy President, and he will name the members of the committees. We know that many of you would like to participate, and this is a call for you to start sending in your names and CV to JoEl LaBorde, Project Manager. Soon we will have a volunteer page on our website that describes the committees, the time involved in being a member, and the various tasks to be accomplished. You will have a place to state your particular skills and interests. It will be our Academy version of ZipRecruiter.
We are also looking for the names of new Academy leaders, 100 of them to be clear. As we approach our 100th birthday, start sending the names of those Fellows who will become our new leaders to JoEl LaBorde. We promise them encouragement, inspiration and mentorship. We promise to continue the love-in and the diligent volunteerism that defines us.
Finally, please take the time to consider nominations for the Board of Directors of your Academy. We need to receive names on or before April 3, 2020 to JoEl LaBorde. The Nominating Committee is looking for the leaders you know. 
In recommending Fellows, please take into account these important considerations.
  • Knowledge of the Academy;
  • Significant record of service to the Academy;
  • Strong dedication to the profession of optometry;
  • Working knowledge of other optometric, health care, governmental and scientific organizations;
  • Organizational skills;
  • Fiscal and business management experience;
  • Integrity, honesty, and peer respect; and
  • Leadership abilities, including public speaking, communication, interpersonal skills, visionary abilities, consensus building, creativity, problem solving, dependability, and ability to support majority decisions (team player).
Our Foundation is our foundation:
Our Foundation is an integral part of our newly adopted Strategic Plan, “Inspiring Excellence in Eye Care." The Foundation’s Board of Directors recently approved six new programs designed for “Enabling Excellence in Eye Care." The Academy and the Foundation are solidly aligned in bringing impactful new programs for clinical optometrists, faculty, and researchers.
The Foundation is in the process of finalizing the details of these impactful programs, and over the next few months I will highlight them in my President’s Calling. I look forward to your support of these very valuable initiatives.
Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO