It is a tremendous honor and privilege to serve as the 101st President of the Rhode Island Optometric Association!
I pledge to do my very best to lead our profession over the next few years, to build on the successes of my predecessors and lead in the same way as they have... by building consensus and never wavering in the advancement (and defense) of our shared and chosen profession.
I couldn't be more excited to work with all of you and the members of our RIOA Board - a group consisting of deeply talented, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic practitioners. Our board is a healthy mix of veteran and newly minted leaders. Each will bring their own ideas and experiences to the table.
The RIOA could not have a better team to help chart the waters of the next few years.
It seems not that long ago that I sat in the chair of Dr. Paul Zerbinopoulos as a patient. I was struck by Dr. Z's enthusiasm for his practice and the care he was providing his patients. I was searching for a challenging and impactful career. He allowed me to shadow him for a bit. Optometry became, at that time, a possible option for me and my career.
As an undergraduate student at Stonehill, I studied neuroscience where I became more and more intrigued with the visual system. Soon after I enrolled at SUNY where I also earned a Master's in Vision Science where I took part in research exploring the neurological planning and initiation of saccades and myopia control.
These experiences led me to a residency within the VA Boston Healthcare System at the Brockton Campus where I met Immediate Past President Dr. Robert Parks. He, too, had the same passion and zeal for his work as Dr. Z and only reinforced my excitement for the career path I had chosen.
In 2016, I began practicing in Rhode Island and Dr. Parks further introduced me to the RIOA and the importance of being involved in the Association's work. The rest, as they say, is history!
I enter my Presidency with the goal of increasing the number of "younger optometrists" involved in our Association. Through the Association's Young Optometrists of Rhode Island (YORI) group, we will do just that! Be on the lookout for future YORI events!
Should you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us! I look forward to seeing you at a future RIOA event soon!
Kathleen Abarr, OD