By Maryann Santos, Program Director, Vision Care Technology, Goodwin College

Opticians Association of America held their OAA Leadership conference in Charleston, SC, February 8-10, 2018. Imagine being in a general session, breakouts, and socializing with opticians, apprentice opticians, opticianry students, industry leaders, frame, lab and lens representatives from all over the country. Each year the OAA puts on an outstanding conference that allows for learning, connecting, and sharing together for the sole purpose of fostering opticianry.

A part of the fun for me is experiencing the state roll call. Chris Allen, OAA’s Executive Director, calls each state and the attendees from each state respond by raising their hands, clapping, or hootin’ and hollerin’. It’s energizing to see the excitement each state brings to this conference. There were attendees from all corners of the U.S., and as far away as Alaska.

Dozens of student and apprentice leaders in opticianry attended. They had unique breakout sessions specifically designed for their leadership growth and development.

Attendees had the opportunity to choose from three different breakout sessions throughout the three days. Some topics were: State Society By-Laws, Promoting State Societies Online, Starting an Optical Program, How to Become a Presenter, Choosing a Convention Venue, Partnering With Your Partners, ANSI Standards, Branding and Mission Work. There is something for everyone, wherever they are in their optical journey.

Opticians give back. Monies were raised for The Vision of Hope Foundation, the giving arm of the OAA. Before the commencement of the conference, Vision of Hope participated in an eyecare mission trip in Charleston. A local optical shop closed for the day to allow for the mission work. Fifty-four people were served and 50 of them needed eyeglasses. One was an eleven-year-old girl who received her first pair of eyeglasses. Her prescription was -4.50. This child was astonished when she saw birds flying in the air for the first time! There was also a referral for glaucoma. Opticians serve; it’s what we do. If you have a heart for serving and/or you are able to contribute financially, visit the “giving back” tab on the OAA website.

Each year, OAA Leadership has their conference in a location where attendees can explore the surrounding area. Beautiful Charleston, SC, is a hospitable and historical city. The people of Charleston are friendly (singing in the street and on the elevator), and the dining options are tremendous and delicious.

If it weren’t for the generous Partners, this conference would not be able to run at its current level and capacity. Peruse the OAA website to view the list of Partners. These are the companies that believe in the optician.
Keep an eye out for next year's conference!

Opticians Association of America: Vision of Hope: