As 2021 comes to an end, I want to take a moment and reflect on this past year. While it has not been an easy year for some, as some have lost loved ones and others continue to experience lingering impacts from the pandemic, there have been some bright spots along the way and I feel it’s important we take a moment and celebrate the small wins in yet another unusual year.
This year the Academy reunited in friendship and fellowship, comradery and celebration at Academy 2021 Boston. We suited up, wore masks, and soaked in as much education and networking as was possible in the four days we were in Bean Town. The chill in the air didn’t stop any of the 6,500+ Fellows, students, non-members, exhibitors, and sponsors from attending any of our signature events such as the Welcome Reception, the Student/Resident Lunch, and the annual Fellows Banquet, nor did it stop our new class of 2021 Fellows from attending the New Fellows Reception. While there was hesitancy at the beginning of 2021 if we would be meeting in person, I think we all agree we were thrilled to gather safely and have some small semblance of “normal” returned, even if for a few short days.
This year, we began our transition to a new association management system (AMS). This new system, which is scheduled to go live in the Spring of 2022, will drastically simplify your access to your account, as well as members-only content. This project will continue throughout 2022, as there are several phases to the implementation process, but overall, this will improve your member experience.
And speaking of your member experience, we also launched a website development project which will also provide a new and improved user experience on the Academy website. As the Academy has grown and flourished throughout the years, so has the website. While it’s a robust site in its current state, the time has come to update, revise, and modernize the site for easier access to the most important information. This project is also running concurrently with the AMS project and will launch in Spring of 2022 as well.
I’d also like to take a moment and thank our Academy and Foundation Board members, committee members and chairs, and others in the membership who provide various levels of volunteering on special task forces and/or projects throughout the year. These individuals give of their personal time and talents, often after-hours, to participate in managing the Academy, reviewing case studies and facilitating oral exams for candidates, mentoring up-and-coming leaders of the organization, reviewing research grant applications, fundraising for the organization, and so much more. Without their ongoing contributions to the organization, we would not be the premier optometry education association that we are.
Next year is a big year for the Academy as we will celebrate 100 years of fellowship and achievements within the optometry profession and industry. Looking into 2022, I hope the pandemic begins to wan, but should we continue to experience variants, rest assured your Academy will continue offering various educational opportunities throughout the Centennial year, in addition to our in-person meeting.
Wishing you and yours a safe, prosperous, healthy, and happy new year.