Building Young Optometrist Leadership Networks

Nov 18, 2015
5 min read

Here's how to build a young optometrist leadership network for your state! These networks are vital for the growth and preservation of our profession!

Building optometry leadership networks

Calling all leaders: The time to build and grow a young optometrist leadership network in your state is NOW!

Through the leadership of Dr. Sally Miller, a few colleagues and I recently created the North Carolina State Optometric Society (NCSOS) Young ODs Program. Designed as a membership sub-committee for NCSOS, young OD members who have been in practice for 10 years or less, this program has fostered a real sense of community amongst our colleagues through the increased communication and camaraderie established during our regional social events.

While I'm well aware many states already have "young OD" programs in place, I'd like to highlight how we can start a movement to ensure EVERY state has a young optometrist program that is developing a strong pipeline of new leaders to preserve, protect and progress the future of our profession!

Below I've outlined cookie cutter instructions on how to build and grow a young OD program in your state!


  1. Create a proposal for your state association that illustrates the structure and goals of the program
  2. Upon their approval, ask your state association to appoint one board member to mentor your group
  3. Recruit and appoint 1-2 committee chairs from your state to help organize and implement committee goals
  4. Map out and determine regional areas of the state that need committee representation
  5. Recruit and appoint local representatives in these areas


  1. Foster the next generation of state and national leaders
  2. Improve communication amongst state young ODs
  3. Communicate and advocate the importance and benefits of state affiliate and AOA membership
  4. Open doors for an effective state wide OD-OD referral network
  5. Increase the number of young ODs lecturing and educating at state meetings
  6. Increase the number of young ODs involved in community outreach

Social Events

  1. Request a budget from your state association for regional young optometrist social events
    1. This budget will differ from state to state (ours was ~$1,000/region)
    2. Keep in mind that some events can be industry sponsored while others can be designed for each attendee to pay for their own food and beverages.
  2. Set a goal of a minimum of 2 events/year in each region
    1. You may be able to institute quarterly social events
  3. Confirm tentative event day and time with your appointed state board member
  4. Promote events via:
    1. State Young ODs Facebook group (see image below)
      1. Create by obtaining a list from your state association of young ODs and inviting them via email
    2. State association newsletter emails
  5. Use Facebook group to further communicate updates on event day, time, and venue
    1. Also a great place to post photos from the event as well as to illustrate any significant updates or call to actions


States that have an official young ODs program

If you live in one of these states, reach out to the appropriate point of contact person below and find out how you can get involved with your state's young optometrist program!

  • Colorado Optometric Association
    • Dr. Kristin O'Brien:
  • Connecticut Association of Optometrists
    • Dr. Erin McCleary:
  • Georgia Optometric Association
    • Dr. Tommy Pinkston:
  • Illinois Optometric Association
    • Dr. Karina Nikogosian:
  • Optometry Association of Louisiana
    • Dr Khanh Trinh:
  • Maine Optometric Association
    • Dr. Jessilin Quint:
  • Maryland Optometric Association
    • Dr. Vicky Wong:
  • Michigan Optometric Association
    • Dr. James Hardie:
  • Minnesota Optometric Association
    • Dr. Lauren Haverly:
    • Dr. Molly Mcdonald:
  • Mississippi Optometric Association
    • Dr. Josh Patrick:
  • New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians
    • Dr. Tamara Petrosyan:
  • New York State Optometric Association
    • Dr. Aleksandra Wianecka:
  • North Carolina State Optometric Society
    • Dr. Ryan Corte:
    • Drs. Jarett and Leslie Mazzarella:
  • Ohio Optometric Association
    • Dr. Terri Gossard:
  • Pennsylvania Optometric Association
    • Dr. James Deom:
  • Texas Optometric Association
    • Dr. David Frazee:
    • Dr. Jennifer Deakins:
  • Wisconsin Optometric Association

States that do not have an official Young ODs Program

If you live in one of these states, YOU could be the person who starts your state's young ODs program! Are you up for the challenge? I certainly hope so!

  • Alabama Optometric Association
  • Alaska Optometric Association
  • Arkansas Optometric Association
  • Arizona Optometric Association
  • California Optometric Association
  • Delaware Optometric Association
  • Florida Optometric Association
  • Hawaii Optometric Association
  • Idaho Optometric Physicians
  • Indiana Optometric Association
  • Iowa Optometric Association
  • Kansas Optometric Association
  • Kentucky Optometric Association
  • Massachusetts Society of Optometrists
  • Missouri Optometric Association
  • Montana Optometric Association
  • Nebraska Optometric Association
  • Nevada Optometric Association
  • New Hampshire Optometric Association
  • New Mexico Optometric Association
  • North Dakota Optometric Association
  • Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians
  • Oregon Optometric Physicians Association
  • Rhode Island Optometric Association
  • South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association
  • Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians
  • South Dakota Optometric Society
  • Utah Optometric Association
  • Vermont Optometric Association
  • Virginia Optometric Association
  • Optometric Physicians of Washington
  • West Virginia Association of Optometric Physicians
  • Wyoming Optometric Association

Do you have a list of best practices that your state young optometrist program is already doing? Share them below.


About Ryan Corte, OD

Ryan Corte attended The Ohio State University College of Optometry and graduated in 2012. He completed an Optometric Residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Illinois College of Optometry in 2013. He currently splits time between Modern Eye Care and Premier Family Eye Care in metropolitan Charlotte, NC. Ryan is a former Executive President of the American Optometric Student Association. He also serves on the Student and New Graduate Committee of the American Optometric Association.