By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

“So, you’re the president of the OAA, what’s that like?” is a question I come across often. At first, I wasn’t sure how to answer this question and I had to really sit and think about it. And after a good bit of reflection I think I’ve got an answer.

“It’s a little like baking cookies.” And I do anticipate the quizzical look that usually accompanies this response.

You see, I believe that representing a national organization takes many ingredients. First, of course, is patience, the ability to hear many points of view and take them into account, the recognition that you many need to lay groundwork where none had been, knowing you won’t see the fruits of your labor for many years down the road, the willingness to learn how to do things you’ve never done before, the fortitude to keep going, even when you feel like you’re a bit battle worn, the need to hear what isn’t working for people so you can create a plan to fix it, the ability to persuade people who don’t agree to sit and talk to each other with the goal of finding common ground. But most of all, it takes passion; passion for the industry, passion for the people you represent and passion for the future of our profession.

I believe that if you put all of these ingredients together and you mix them up in the giant mixing bowl that is our industry and then you place them in the heat of an oven that is the pressure of public perception, sometimes you can come out the other side with a treat that was totally worth the work, the mess, and the time you put into it. And that is absolutely what I believe to be true.

I know this is a bit of a metaphorical answer, but just to say that most evenings are spent on conference calls after my full-time job of running a practice doesn’t do it justice. There’s travel, speeches, press releases, correspondence and phone calls, committee meetings, board meetings, and all of the time spent on zoom. But there are also the amazing people I get to meet, the exciting initiatives I get to hear about and get to help shepherd into creation, the collaborations I get to be a part of, and the fact that I know without a doubt that opticians matter, what we do matters, and I’m willing to do what it takes to make sure that I leave our profession better off for those who come after me. I know we are moving the needle, and it gives me joy to know that I was able to be a part of it.

Yes, I’m in the midst of the mixing bowl, but I know the cookies that will come out of the oven will have totally been worth every bit of it!