Latest News American Optometric Association (AOA) Announces the Winners of its Annual Professional Awards By Staff Monday, April 19, 2021 12:24 AM Winners of the annual AOA professional awards included (top row, l to r) Michelle Welch, OD; Belinda Starkey, OD; and Erick Henderson, OD. (Bottom Row, l to r) Lillian Kalaczinski, OD; George Ballato, CPOA; and Samantha Serrano.ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA) has announced the six members who are being honored with its prestigious awards. AOA also recognized the contribution of long-standing visionary supporter Johnson & Johnson Vision for its recognition of these exemplary individuals. The winners will be honored at a ceremony during the 2021 Optometry’s Meeting, scheduled for June 24-26 in Denver. The AOA congratulates all 2021 award nominees. The six doctors who received the AOA honors and their awards are:• The Distinguished Service Award recognizes Michelle Welch, OD, for her unusually significant contributions to the profession of optometry.• The Optometrist of the Year Award recognizes Belinda Starkey, OD, for her outstanding service on behalf of the profession and the visual welfare of the public. • The Young Optometrist of the Year Award recognizes Erick Henderson, OD, who has been in practice less than 10 years and demonstrates remarkable leadership when serving the profession, patients and his community.• The Optometric Educator Award recognizes Lillian Kalaczinski, OD, for outstanding service on behalf of the profession, optometric education and the visual welfare of the public.• The Paraoptometric of the Year Award recognizes George Ballato, CPOA, for his significant contributions to the profession of paraoptometry.• The Paraoptometric Community Service Award recognizes Samantha Serrano for generously donating her time and talents to the profession of optometry, patients and the public.The Optometrist of the Year and Young Optometrist of the Year were selected from a robust field of nominees from 26 state associations and the Armed Forces Optometric Society, the AOA noted in its announcement of the honorees. Each of these AOA-member doctors of optometry and paraoptometric professionals have distinguished themselves, and the profession, and are deserving of recognition and appreciation.