“Men at some time are masters of their fates.”
-Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
Dear Academy membership,
Remember when we were mask-free and spent a good deal of time at our favorite restaurant, meeting friends and having delicious food placed in front of us? There was such a freedom and ease to this ritual. If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us to recognize how that food found its way to the table. We have learned the value of farmers and truckers, grocery clerks, and cooks. There is a process behind the scenes, an essential process.
Here at the Academy, we have our own crew behind the scenes. We have faced an unprecedented year and have survived and recreated ourselves in many ways. Change does not come easily. Nevertheless, here we are, heading into the first-ever virtual annual meeting with hope and energy.
Behind the scenes, so many people have adapted, created, struggled, mourned, and soldiered on. Let us start with our new CEO Peter Scott. Imagine taking on a new position, overseeing the most successful meeting in the Academy’s history in Orlando just nine months ago, and then hitting the wall of COVID-19. However, here is the man for the times. He understands online education and has worked tirelessly to find the right company and hire talented experts to make our annual meeting a superior experience. The staff deserves our applause. There are the familiar faces of Helen, Betty, Rich, and JoEl. However, do not forget Dana, Sarah, Ewa, Zaide, Ian, Kayla, Joseph, Sherry, Mandy, Christina, Adrienne, CZ, Josie, Bob, and Jennifer. These dedicated professionals have worked behind the scenes turning left then right, jumping up then down to rearrange their work lives and our meeting.
Furthermore, let us not ignore the loyal, creative board of directors who spend hours on Zoom trying to make sense of this disastrous public health problem. They have posted the research related to eye care in this pandemic, rewritten the rules for CE, rethought the annual meeting with unknown budget projections while staying dedicated to this Academy, and dealing with their own professional lives.
And if you thought for a moment that the workings of the Strategic Plan had suddenly stopped, I can assure you that our five pillars remain strong and those who are championing these efforts are working diligently behind the scenes. Here is an excellent example. Recently, you received a survey regarding volunteering for the Academy. We received over 250 replies from Fellows who are eager to contribute. They were able to identify areas of interest and expertise. We now have over 100 new names of supportive members to put to work on committees and task forces. We can increase membership participation, increase the diversity of our committees, and use the talents that we just uncovered. The Membership Pillar stands strong.
Research continues despite COVID-19. The Think Tank report on corneal disease and contact lenses is almost ready for publication. In conjunction with the Fellows Doing Research SIG, the Retina SIG will begin to study genetic retinal diseases. The Research Pillar stands strong.
Our partnerships are growing. I recently attended a meeting of all the major optometric groups to review the issues facing our profession because of the pandemic. The Strategic Partnership Pillar stands strong.
So do not despair and take heart. Know that what is going on behind the scenes here at the Academy is exceptional. Know that you will be attending the very best continuing education event online in October when we launch Academy 2020 At Home
. Know that your Academy will prevail and will continue to inspire excellence in eye care.