Mindy Blackford
MOA President

First of all, I want to thank you all for the opportunity and honor of serving as MOA president. From before my first day of optometry school, I was taught by my mentors how important it is to be involved in your state association. As a student I saw firsthand how important grass roots keypersons systems can be and will work on making our system better over the next year.

I may be approaching this position a bit differently than most of my predecessors. I am a female and an employed optometrist. When I interviewed for board secretary, one of the questions they asked me was “what do you hope to accomplish as an executive officer.” My response was to do my part to make the profession of optometry better in the state of Missouri and to serve as an example to other females or employed doctors who might be afraid to take the leap and become involved in the MOA. We have had other female presidents, but it has been awhile, and I know many employed doctors who think they are not a good fit for the MOA because they are not practice owners. These are both reservations I had in my early days on the board, but I have learned that in both cases I was wrong. We all have different situations and those perspectives are important to best represent our members.

As MOA members, we have so many things to be thankful for this year. After many years of work on the part of some of our very dedicated members, our MOA Vision Plan is ready to roll out. I am proud to have been a part of this project. I sincerely thank all those who put in the long hours to make this insurance plan happen.

The Legislative Conference was January 13-14 in Jefferson City. Committee meetings as well as the Legislative Reception were at the Millbottom again this year. Thank you to everyone who made time to attend. Being a committee member is a great way to get involved in the MOA. In addition to committee meetings and CE, received information on implementing the MOA Vision Plan. MOA is also introducing our patient protection bill again this year. We have a lot of new faces in the legislature and we need keypersons. Please contact your trustee or the central office if you have a personal relationship with any of our Senators or Representatives.

This year we are changing up the Leadership Retreat. Optometry’s Meeting is in St. Louis June 20-23. In order to increase efficiency for our volunteers we will be having our board and committee meetings on Sunday June 23 in St. Louis. I urge you all to attend both events.

I feel like my personal motto for this year is “change is a good thing,” coincidentally there are some changes coming for the MOA as well as we implement the new society structure. I know this is a big change for the MOA, but it is necessary for the continued health and growth of the association. This new structure will help us to ensure we have the most qualified and dedicated trustees serving you on the MOA board.

My presidential term is off to a great start, I have visited the St. Louis and Kansas City Optometric Societies. I enjoy getting to meet members and get a taste of how each society functions. I am so excited about the next year for the MOA, I hope it will be one of growth and success. I promise to do my best to serve the patients and optometrists in the state of Missouri. Again, I thank you for this opportunity. If you have any questions, please reach out to me.

Mindy Blackford, OD

Fall 2018


Tom Cullinane
MOA President

Summer is ended and we are getting ready for our Annual MOA Convention in Branson this year. It will be at the Hilton on the Landing in downtown Branson – October 11-14.

We had a great Leadership retreat at Tan-Tar-A this June. The former longtime executive director of the Illinois Optometric Association, Mike Horstman talked to the leadership about how the Illinois board of directors is set up with officers and trustees. This was very helpful for the MOA to help us come up with new society boundaries and trustee structure moving forward in 2019. We will be voting on an Articles of Agreement change at this year’s convention business meeting pertaining to new society boundaries and trustee allocation.

We also had a great speaker talking to us about a very difficult topic. Anne Chambers from the Missouri Bar Association discussed suicide and addiction issues and how we as an association can help our Members with these challenging issues. If you need more information about this, please contact our Executive director Dr. Lee Ann Barrett .

The AOA Optometry’s Meeting was held in Denver in late June. Missouri had a good showing of OD’s attending. Our proposal to change the dues structure from a five year escalating scale to a ten year one for graduating OD’s failed. Many states thought it would cost them too much money and felt it was unnecessary for them. We did have a few states that sided with us and I will continue to work with them to try to get a pilot program with five to ten states. Optometry’s meeting will be held in St. Louis next year. The MOA will be having our annual leadership retreat during this meeting. Please mark you calendars now for June 18-23. We will be announcing our leadership retreat schedule soon.
The “MOA” vision insurance plan is set to begin selling in October of 2018. This started back when the state employees were moved from VSP to NVA in 2014. Provider manuals should be out in the next few months. We are still working on getting our members to sign up as participating providers. It is imperative that we have a solid network in place so that we can sell this across the state. If you have not yet signed up, simply contact the MOA office and they will assist you. Once again thanks to Jason Lake, Doug Herriott, Kory Scullawl and Lee Ann Barrett who have worked countless hours on this ongoing project.
Disruptive technologies like Opternative and now 1-800 contacts trying to DE-regulate contact lenses are a topic we have been working on with our state legislators. We will once again file a bill with Senator Jeanie Riddle from district 10 in central Missouri as its sponsor. It’s called “The Patient Safety Act”.

We must get this important change passed to protect the citizens of Missouri from these companies that are only worried about their bottom line and not the health and well-being of patient’s eyes. Please be ready to help urge our legislators to support it when you are called upon by our central office. The 2019 Legislative Conference will be Sunday and Monday January 13th and 14th. Mark you calendars now and attend this important event.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to serve as your MOA President, and I am excited at the direction the MOA is heading.

If you need to contact me, please do not hesitate. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your president.

Spring 2018


Tom Cullinane
MOA President

Spring has sprung, and a lot has happened over the last three months.  I have visited SLOS, COS, KCOS, GOOS and NEOS.  I will finish up my tour of Missouri in Joplin and Poplar Bluff.

We had a great Legislative conference in January.  Dr. Chris Wroten from Louisiana was our speaker.   He did an excellent job speaking on emerging technologies and how Louisiana was able to pass an exclusive law in their state.  Most of our events were held at a new venue for us, the Millbottom.  The Millbottom is a block north of the Capitol and was well received by our members and legislative friends.  Our past president Dr. Lake showed off his true talents during our legislative reception as he was our bartender!!!

The AOA had their semi-annual presidents’ council meeting in Clearwater Florida in January.  Drs. Lee Ann Barrett, Mindy Blackford and I attended for Missouri.  At that meeting I proposed a resolution changing the AOA due’s structure.  This resolution replaces the current five year escalating structure for new graduates to a ten-year structure.  In Missouri we have struggled to retain our new members from years 3-5 out of school and hopefully the proposed resolution will help with retention.  We had a lot of valuable feedback from other states on our resolution and are encouraged it will pass in June in Denver at Optometry’s meeting.  If it passes, then it will be voted on in June of 2019 in St. Louis at optometry’s meeting as a permanent change.

Disruptive technologies like Opternative and now 1-800 contacts trying to DE-regulate contact lenses is a topic we have been working on with our state legislators to shore up our current state statute.  The bill has been filed in the Senate.  The bill sponsor is Senator Jeanie Riddle from district 10 in central Missouri.  It is SB1100, The Patient Safety Act.  We must get this important change in our statue passed to protect the citizens of Missouri from these companies that are only worried about their bottom line and not the health and well-being of the patient’s eyes.  Please be ready to help urge our legislators to support it when you are called upon by our central office.  It is currently in Committee and we will keep everyone updated when phone calls are needed to be made.

Please mark your calendars for our two remaining 2018 events:

  • We have our annual Leadership retreat this year on June 1-2 at the Lake of the Ozark’s.  It will be held at “Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Resort”, formally Tan-Tar-A resort.
  • In October we will be holding our Annual MOA Convention in Branson.  It has traditionally been at the Chateau on the Lake, but this year it will be at the Hilton at the Branson Convention Center, October 11th-14th.

I look forward to the rest of my presidency and excited in the direction the MOA is heading.

If you need to contact me, please do not hesitate.  Thank you for allowing me to serve as your president 2017-2018.

Tom Cullinane OD 
office – 314-579-0909
mobile – 314-402-6600
[email protected]



Tom Cullinane
MOA President

I want to start by saying it is an honor to be your president. I look forward to continuing the fantastic work of my recent predecessor Dr. Lake. I hope I can live up to the same level as Jason’s performance. I have watched Jason work extremely hard for this great organization over the last 12 months as president and for many years while on the board and you should all be very proud and thankful for his service.

MOA History
The Building: As you all know Zoe Lyle and Dr. Mike Penny our president at that time was instrumental in helping us obtain and secure our building back in 2000. The building was built in 1874 and later named the Albert Schoenbeck building after our long time initial attorney. It is one of, if not the best location in Jefferson City. The lower two floors were vacant until recently. Jason and MOA Executive Director, Dr. LeeAnn Barrett, were instrumental in securing long term leases for those floors. This was vital for the continued success of the MOA.

The “MOA” Vision Insurance Plan: This started back when the state employees were moved from VSP to NVA in 2014. It continues to evolve. Once again Jason and LeeAnn have worked countless hours on this ongoing project and I am looking forward to continuing to work on this new program for the MOA. I will be visiting all of the societies over the next year and will continue to update you on its progress.

Disruptive technologies:  Businesses like Opternative and now 1-800 Contacts attempting to DE-regulate contact lenses is a topic we have been working on with our state legislators to shore up our current state statute. We must get this important change in our statue passed to protect the citizens of Missouri from companies that are concerned only with their bottom line and not the health and well-being of the patient’s eyes.

Looking Ahead
Here are three things that I would like to start moving forward over the next year:

  1. Membership
  2. Having our state pass an exclusionary type law
  3. Start working on trying to embed vision coverage in all medical insurance programs.

Some of you out there are thinking this guy is off his rocker; no way can he get those things done. I would say you are correct. There is probably no way that these things can be accomplished over the next year, however we need to start sometime, and now is the time.

As far as membership, I would say that this is a continuation of many presidents before me. The hardest part about getting more members is figuring out why they are not members. We have a committee that has been trying to come up with ways over the years to show value in our membership in a variety of ways, and for the most part it has fallen on deaf ears.

Our outgoing past President Dr. Jeff Gamble made membership one of his goals during his term and he did a great job. He did something that was unprecedented. He took it upon himself to call every single non -member across the state and urge them to be members. It took him a while; he did a fantastic job and did acquire a few new members. He should be applauded for his efforts. After watching all of these great attempts of trying to increase membership, I have decided it’s mainly about showing value and the all mighty dollar. The new vision plan will definitely show value to our current non-members and hopefully the work of Drs. Lake and Barrett will get us lots of new members when it is up and running in the near future.

I remember when I was in my third year out of optometry school and the membership bill came. I was like “its double what it was last year !!!” I had just started a practice cold that previous year, and money was tight. I thought long and hard and it was tough to write the check, but I did it.

As you all know MOA must comply with the five year escalation scale for dues required by the AOA for our national dues. The first year is 10% or about $200, the second year 25% or about $500, third year 50% ($1,000), fourth 75% ($1,500), and fifth 100% around $2000. Statistics show that we lose members between years 3- 5. I don’t think the average OD, at this point in a career, can justify the cost because most of them have six figures of debt after school and money is tight.

What I would like to see happen and will urge the AOA to adopt it is a TEN year escalation. I really think if dues goes up by only $200 per year, most OD’s would be able to swallow that and continue to be members!! When year ten comes around it will not be such a hardship for them. I will continue to work hard at our national meetings to encourage the adoption of this pay scale and hope to get it accomplished sooner rather than later.

Missouri State Law Changes
As you know, we are a legislative profession and have to fight to continue to expand our scope of practice. Well, I think it is time to flip the playing field. I urge you to come to Legislative Conference in January to learn more about this.

Vision Plans in Medical Coverage
The final thing is implementing vision in medical plans. Vision plans have been choking us slowly over the last decade. When they were created many moons ago, they were great because most OD’s were not on Medical plans and there wasn’t a network for us. The time has come for them to slowly leave the market.

Our new combined vision and dental plan is a start. Hopefully it will flourish over the coming years. Most of our current vision plans are just a pass thru taking money away from our patients and us. I believe we must convince one of the big boys to do it and in a few years they will all do it. It’s just math.!!! As Dr. Lake says, “ we are the pickle on the plate,” meaning vision means nothing to both the employers and the insurance brokers who are selling it.

The employers have no clue about which one is a better plan for their employees, it’s all about the cost.

Like I said earlier all three of these things are not going to get done in the next 12 months, but we have to start sometime. There is no “I “ in team and I need all of you to help this great association continue to move forward for the betterment of Optometry .

If you need to contact me, please do not hesitate. Thank You for allowing me to serve as your president 2017-2018.

Tom Cullinane OD
office – 314-579-0909
mobile – 314-402-6600
[email protected]



Jason Lake
MOA President

I can hardly believe my term as President is coming to a close. In some ways, it has seemed like a very long journey and in others, I’ve run out of time and didn’t get to everything I had hoped to accomplish!

I started my year with a speech expressing gratitude and I feel like I should probably finish the same way.

I have such great respect and gratitude for your MOA board and feel like the future of optometry is in the best of hands. There is no doubt in my mind that the present board will leave the profession in a better place than they found it.

I also hope you have the opportunity to thank Sue Brown and Dr. Lee Ann Barrett at the central office. The high quality and amount of work these two staff members accomplish each year is truly impressive, and we as a profession owe them sincere thanks.

We also owe our legislative team of Jay Hahn and Scott Marrs big thanks for their work. The MOA may not have passed any legislation this year, but we feel stronger than ever that we are very well positioned to move our legislative agenda forward. We have the right team for optometry in our state.

A final thanks to my partners and staff at work. There was never a complaint as they covered for me many times as MOA business simply required my time and efforts. I am humbled to have been so supported and our patients are blessed to have you all take care of them.

Most important of all, I want to thank my wife Suzy and my daughters Avery, Delaney and Edy for taking such good care of me. They were always willing to sit through another discussion about optometry at dinner and gave up valuable time together to make sure I could do my best for the profession. They allowed me to serve and for that I am forever grateful and blessed by their presence in my life.

Thank you, for allowing me to serve this past year. As I look back, I think we have left our profession a little better than when we started. It has been a wonderful year and I am honored to have been able to serve as your President.