Every year, six optometrists of varying backgrounds with different perspectives join the Women In Optometry advisory board to serve a two-year term. These ODs provide guidance and offer suggestions to the editorial team, and they’re integral to selecting that year’s Theia Awards of Excellence winners.
Joining the WO advisory board for the 2021-2022 season are the following:
- Camille Cohen, OD, of Brooklyn, New York
- Lori Grover, OD, PhD, of the Center for Eye and Health Outcomes and American Optometric Association trustee
- Monica Johnsonbaugh, OD, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan
- Hardeep Kataria, OD, FAAO, of Oxnard, California
- Stacy Lyons, OD, of New England College of Optometry
- Janette Pepper, OD, FCOVD, of Southern College of Optometry
They will be replacing the board members who served in 2019 and 2020: Jenny Coyle, OD, MPH; Lillian Kalacinzki, OD; Sherrol Reynolds, OD, FAAO; Mona Sood, OD; Annabelle Storch, OD; and Shauna Thornhill, OD.
They will be joining the 2020-2021 board members: Mamie Chan, OD; Nikki Iravani, OD; Ali Jensen, OD; Viola Kanevsky, OD; Sidra Qadri, OD; and Jessilin Quint, OD, MS, MBA, FAAO.
Meet The New Board Members
Currently, she manages her own practice, Pearle Vision, in Park Slope. Dr. Cohen is a first-generation Jamaican American, who has lived in the U.S. since she was 3. “Optometry appealed to me, not just because of my own vision issues, but because I recognized that eye doctors are an integral part of their surrounding community,” Dr. Cohen said. “I am a black woman of immigrant parents who is determined to continue to evolve into as many roles as life continues to present to me.” Read more of this special viewpoint and reflection on her evolving career that Dr. Cohen shared as she joined the WO board.
Dr. Grover served as faculty and on the medical staff at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Wilmer Eye Institute and is currently a trustee of the American Optometric Association. She is a member of the Vision Health Initiative Strategic Planning Committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Information is power. Advocacy in all its forms requires knowledge and facts to support improved health,” Dr. Grover said. “As women doctors of optometry continue to grow in number and influence within communities, state and national leadership, and within the health care arena, we must embrace our duty to share information and lead in action – for our patients, for care delivery and for our profession. I hope to bring a unique perspective that encourages all colleagues in their role as eye care physicians to recognize these opportunities moving forward.”
Dr. Johnsonbaugh brings her experiences from across the profession the board from working in an OD/MD setting and large group OD practice, as well as the corporate-affiliated lease she still owns in addition to her private practice. “I bring the perspective of an independent private practice owner who has experienced rapid growth and success in a unique, cold-start practice,” Dr. Johnsonbaugh said. “I love to empower women ODs to follow their practice ownership dreams and to inspire students to reach for their goals. I believe it is possible to be present for your family, own successful practices and help advance the profession, if that is your desire.”
Dr. Kataria has set a goal to establish a network of women optometrists like herself to mentor and be available to speak with newly graduating women optometrists and residents who are in search of employment opportunities. “I can lend the perspective of a young woman optometrist in search of employment opportunities practicing medical optometry,” she said. “Women optometrists need a network where they can go to ask questions specifically about contract negotiations and employment trends, for example, without fearing gender bias or conflict from other readers such as large platforms on social media.”
“As a professor at NECO, I have witnessed first-hand how the demographics in optometry has changed over the last 35 years, from one that was predominantly men to predominantly women. I work closely with women students, residents and colleagues on the issues that women face in the profession and strive to close the gap.”
With nearly 17 years in academia, Dr. Pepper said that she did not always voice her perspective regularly. “Initially, I did not realize the power of my voice and what I brought to the table. I did my job and that was it,” she says. “Now I understand this mindset was a mistake; my perspective adds value. Thus, I plan to bring my authentic self to the board with a standpoint that encourages inclusivity and a message that may uncover a minority viewpoint that is not always acknowledged or validated but which is necessary nonetheless. The significance of this is that I get to model the expression of voice that I did not know I needed when I started as an optometrist.”