Dear Academy membership,
This is my last President's Calling, and I leave this task with mixed feelings. I remember that first editorial. It was thrilling to have a voice. But the fact is, since the first one, I have started worrying about the next one as soon as the current one was in press. There were the easy, breezy, heady days of the strategic plan, followed by the sorrowful, heavy days of COVID-19.
But this President’s Calling is a joy because I want to write about Joe Shovlin, OD, FAAO. I want to shout about him, really, because he never shouts about himself. As Immediate Past President, Joe will be leaving the board at the end of this annual meeting. I have worked with Joe on the Board of Directors for 14 years. He and I joined together in one of those messy elections when two people needed to be added. We were both stunned and pleased to be there. We bonded in some kind of dynamic rookie duo and grew old together. Joe, being the wiser, quieter part of the team, was moved ahead of me in line to the top. Someone was thinking straight.
Our first meeting required a big vote related to whether the Academy and the AOA should join. We cut our teeth on this one and learned the value of discussion, camaraderie, and a united front. The Academy taught us a great deal.
Joe, is the contemplative guy at the corner of the table in the board room, wearing jeans and a blue shirt, thinking. He is always thinking. The other thing that he does is listen. At the end of a contentious discussion, he can cite the players and their motivations and bring the topic into its essential elements so that voting becomes easy, or at least easier. Furthermore, if Joe ever decides on a new career, he could pass the bar right now. He has the legal implications of every decision nailed.
Joe is serious on the outside. For a while, I wondered if he would ever crack a smile. And then came Henry. Henry is Joe’s first grandchild and if you ever want to see a smile, a real Duchenne smile, the kind that Julia Roberts sends out on the big screen, then just ask Joe about Henry. There is nothing like it… the lift of the jaw, the tug of the cheeks, the completely crinkled eyes. Now that is a smile!
I also know something about Joe's inner life. Joe is hilarious and sarcastic, loving and loyal, creative and thoughtful, and full of knowledge. I also know that everyone wants Joe to be their eye doctor and, more importantly, everyone wants Joe to be their friend. I am so happy to tell you that I consider myself one of those privileged friends who will miss Joe at the board table more than he would be able to imagine.
But I savor this image of Joe going forward, with the hilarious, steadfast Lisa at his side. They will look after aging parents and be exemplary grandparents. Joe will work, masked and gowned, providing the very best of eye care. And, if there is any justice, Joe will smile and reminisce, and remember with fondness those years on the board. I want him to review his many contributions, dwell on his thoughtful, steadiness, and know that he shaped this Academy into the fine organization that it is today.
Finally, on a personal note, I want to thank the Fellows of this Academy, for your support over the past two years. My board work has shaped my life and my career. The Academy is a large part of who I am. I am very grateful to have had the honor of serving as your president.