Meet Our Staff

Use the Where to Turn Guide to find the Academy contact that can best answer your questions.

For contact information for the Board of Directors, volunteers, and staff, please visit those respective pages.

Peter Scott

Peter Scott, CAE, APR, MBA
Chief Executive Officer

Peter Scott is a proven leader with over 20 years’ experience of growing associations and teams with a specialization in product development, digital transformation, public relations, experiential design, and organizational strategy/innovation. His ability to merge creative strategy, business acumen, and governance has earned him the ear of those at some of the world’s largest organizations including Microsoft, Wyndham, Mars, Kraft, the Federal Reserve Bank, Procter & Gamble, Target, PWC, Deloitte, Nielsen, The Canadian House of Commons, and Saudi Arabian Capital Markets Authority. Peter gained recognition for his efforts by receiving the Brand Hall Excellence in eLearning Award, multiple Forbes Best of Web, Webby Awards, as well as the Technology and Learning Magazine's Award of Excellence.

Peter earned his BBA in finance and economics from Stetson University and an MBA from Nova Southeastern. He is a Certified Association Executive and Accredited in Public Relations. In his spare time, he and his wife enjoy golf, cooking and spending time with their two dogs.

Dana Edwards

Dana Edwards, MLIS
Director, Information Technology

Dana joined the Academy with over 10 years of data management experience. She graduated from Florida State University with a BS in Information Studies and a MLIS in Information Studies with a concentration in Data Management. In her spare time, Dana enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Bob Gray
Bob Gray, MS
Vice President, Philanthropy

Bob brings a vast amount of nonprofit experience to the Academy. He spent 18 years as CEO for The Foundation Fighting Blindness, an organization dedicated to funding research projects on retinal degenerative diseases. He spent 14 years with the National Easter Seals Society fundraising on the local, state, and national levels. Over the past decade he has consulted for numerous nonprofits in the healthcare and environmental sectors. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, Bob went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Community Health Education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. In his spare time, Bob is an avid golfer and fan of football and basketball. He shares these interests with his wife and adult children. 

Richard Jones, CPA
Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO

Rich brings nearly 20 years of nonprofit financial experience to the organization. Prior to joining the Academy, Rich served as Chief Financial Officer for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He also has five years of public accounting experience. Rich received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Maryland and his CPA certification in 1989. In his spare time, Rich is a movie buff and enjoys reading and exercising.

Sarah Kidd

Sarah Kidd
Human Resources Manager

As the Executive & Administrative Manager, Sarah works closely with senior management on benefits administration, employee relations, performance management, onboarding, policy implementation, recruitment/employment, and contract negotiations. Sarah is also responsible for building operations, compliance, maintenance, as well as annual meeting and business insurances. She is currently working toward her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, and has earned her certification as an HR Specialist, as well as a Business Management and Operations certification. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with family and traveling.

Ewa Koguciuk

Ewa Koguciuk
Educational Programs Assistant

Ewa was born and raised in Poland. She graduated from SUNY Old Westbury College located on Long Island, NY with Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She joined the Academy in May 2018 and brings over 15 years of nonprofit administrative support experience. In her spare time, Ewa enjoys hiking, traveling, attending spin classes at a local gym and vegetarian cuisine.

JoEl LaBorde
JoEl LaBorde
Strategic Initiatives Director

JoEl is an accomplished association executive with 30+ years of senior-level nonprofit international experience.  Expert communicator who develops strong board, staff and volunteer relationships and enjoys working with diverse talent.  She has also consulted for numerous nonprofits in the finance, audit, and environmental sectors. In her spare time, she and her husband enjoy boating and spending time with their children and brand-new grandkids.

Zaide Laboy
Meetings and Exhibits Assistant

As the Meeting & Exhibits Assistant, Zaide is responsible for providing administrative support to the Meetings and Exhibits department, including sponsorship support, meeting logistics, coordinate activities and provide on-site assistance at the Academy’s annual meetings.

Ian Mitchell
Ian Mitchell, CPA, MBA
Accounting Manager

Ian joined the Academy in the summer of 2015. Two months later he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, from the University of Central Florida. He is working towards an MBA from DeVry University. His passions include traveling, playing sports, exercising, and New York Mets baseball.
Kayla Ritten

Kayla Ritten, MBA
Membership Director

Kayla joined the Academy in 2016 with a background in Marketing. She received an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business. Outside of work, Kayla enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her husband, William, and their children, Charlotte and Lucas.

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Jennifer Rubin
Awards and Student Membership Engagement Manager

Jennifer is the Coordinator of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. Her role is to administer implementation of the AAOF programs and provide administrative support to the Development Director. Although the majority of her fifteen years of exceptional executive administrative experience was in the accounting industry, she brings a work ethic and drive that will be an asset to the foundation.  She is married and has a 15 year old daughter who keeps her quite busy with soccer and various youth group activities. In her spare time she enjoys cooking and swimming.

Joe Sotomayor

Joseph Sotomayor
IT Specialist

Joseph is the Data Specialist and joined the Academy in January of 2018. He works closely with the Manager of Information Technology to assist with Data Management, Candidate, and student needs. He has past experience with IT solutions and data integration. He has certifications in Web Development and Database Administration with plans to earn more certifications in the IT field. In 2009 Joseph received recognition from the Orlando Sentinel, and was selected to the “All County Football Selection” for his athletic achievements. In his spare time he enjoys playing sports, graphic design, and spending time with family.


Sherry Shreekrisenjee

Sherry Sreekrisenjee
Accounting Manager

Sherry has joined the Finance team with over 10 years of experience which she gained from working at various industries in NYC and the UK. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Accounting in 2005 from Queens College in New York. Sherry enjoys reading, watching TV and spending time with her husband and her daughter, Stella.


Betty Taylor, CEM
Vice President, Meetings & Industry Relations

Betty is responsible for the overall strategic planning of the Academy corporate support programs and meeting operations. With creative oversight, she manages all aspects of Academy industry programs, sponsorship directives and corporate partner initiatives.  Directing the team providing corporate support and exhibit sales, she ensures that the sponsorship support processes and deliverables are executed seamlessly and successfully on behalf of the Academy Corporate Partners. Betty has been in the tradeshow/meetings industry for 25 years.

Mandy Taylor, MBA, APR
Vice President, Marketing
Christina Velazquez

Christina Velasquez
Education Manager

Christina joined the Academy in March of 2017. While working side by side with several of the Academy’s committee members, Christina provides the first line of customer service to members, students, and prospective members, regarding the Academy’s Education Programs. She is currently enrolled at the University of Central Florida, working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies. Besides working a full-time job and juggling school, Christina is also a mother to a toddler named Cayson. Any time away from work and books is dedicated to her son, where they both enjoy watching movies and reading books, baking cakes, outdoor activities, and anything trucks! Christina brings a drive and passion for growth that will be an asset to the Academy. 

Helen Viksnins

Helen Viksnins, MEd, FAAO
Vice President, Education and Professional Relations

Helen is in charge of Education, Membership and Communications programs. She has been with the Academy since 1999 in a variety of capacities. Helen's educational background includes a BSFS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an MEd from George Washington University in Human Resource Development, and a Certificate in Critical Languages from Western Michigan University in the Latvian language. She previously worked for the Peace Corps as the Country Desk Officer for North and Central Europe. In her personal time, Helen sings as a part of a Latvian folk ensemble, Sudrabavots, enjoys gardening and playing with her nephews.

Adrienne Wilhoite

Adrienne Wilhoite
Manager, Exhibits & Corporate Support

With over seven years of experience in highly detailed customer service positions, Adrienne joined the Academy’s team in August 2017, bringing with her a passion for ensuring her customers’ needs are met to the fullest extent. As a full time student pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Behavior at Rollins College, Adrienne is dedicated to learning and applying what works best within an organization and uses this insight when determining the best ways to communicate effectively with the Academy’s sponsors and exhibitors. In her spare time Adrienne enjoys volunteering with children and animals, practicing Vinyasa Yoga and spending as much time as she can with her family, friends and puppy.  

CZ headshot
Christina Zara, CMP, CMM
Manager of Event Operations

Christina brings over 18 years of event planning experience to the Academy. As the Manager of Event Operations, she is dedicated to exceeding attendee and stakeholder expectations though active listing and event industry knowledge.