NECO Names Its First Diversity and Inclusion Liaison, Joins Black Eyecare Perspective’s 13 Percent Promise

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Dr. Angela Abraham, OD
BOSTON—The New England College of Optometry has announced that Dr. Angela Abraham, OD, has been appointed as the school’s first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Liaison. In this role, Dr. Abraham will work with NECO’s new Alliance for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion, which includes faculty, staff and students. The goal of the group is to “promote a culture where individuals from diverse backgrounds and life experience feel they belong, are able to contribute, and can thrive academically and professionally. A primary role of this Alliance is to connect D&I activities to a broader set of data-driven, results-oriented strategies, and to promote campus-wide communication on progress,” NECO said in a statement.

Dr. Abraham completed her Doctor of Optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Optometry and took a Fellowship in Ocular Disease at the O’Donnell Eye Institute, St. Louis. Her undergraduate degree in Biology was at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. During her time at Smith, Dr. Abraham was part of a NECO summer program designed to attract more individuals of color to optometry.

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She said, “This is about more than changing a culture. It’s about bringing ideas in from the outside to cross-pollinate and spur new thinking. I believe in the year 2020, we all see the need to come together with better ideas and bigger hearts, and share both for the greater good.”

Howard Purcell, OD, the college’s president and CEO said, “NECO is eager to do its part to help create the more diverse and inclusive community that we all know is the future of vision care, and Dr. Abraham’s appointment is the first action in a larger plan. Angela Abraham has been on faculty at NECO since 2011, and in her we have someone who has always been passionate about mentoring students of color in our field. She’s going to be essential in helping us achieve greater inclusion and living up to the ideals of the 13 Percent Promise. This will take reflection and hard work, and we’re committed to a sustainable and powerful effort to get there.”

NECO has also signed on to the 13 Percent Promise pledge led by Black Eyecare Perspective. The initiative is based on U.S. Census data showing that 13.4 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Black, and asks for an equal amount of Black representation in eye care companies, colleges of optometry and boards of trustees. BEP will work with NECO to help reach the goal. That includes providing both resources and accountability to help achieve targeted goals

Traci Logan, executive vice president said, “Currently only 3.1 percent of NECO students and 4 percent of faculty identify as African American or Black, so the college will need a clear strategy to achieve this goal. Increasing representation isn’t something we should just talk about as an aspiration, it has to become something we commit ourselves to doing because it benefits our students, employees, patients, and the eye care industry as a whole… We’ll be seeking best practices and knowledge from other schools and our industry collaborators to stimulate enduring success. These actions represent one step forward in a much longer journey, one we believe has the potential to transform the profession. Or, as we proudly state in our mission, we will change the way people see the world.”

NECO said it will announce soon its full efforts to improve diversity and inclusion.