2024 Focus on Eye Health Summit – Presenter and Moderator Bios

Prevent Blindness will host the 13th annual Focus on Eye Health Summit on July 10-11, 2024, as a FREE virtual interactive event. This year’s theme – “Being Seen and Heard” – emphasizes the importance of a person-centered approach to vision health interventions, research, communications, and care. Being seen and heard by providers, policy makers, researchers, public health experts and other stakeholders allows an individual’s complex health issues to be addressed while taking into consideration their preferences, cultural background, and social context. And ultimately, it leads to the most ideal outcomes for all involved in the interaction.

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Speaker and Moderator Bios

Michael D. Abramoff, MD, PhD Founder and Executive Chairman, Digital Diagnostics

Michael D. Abramoff, MD, PhD
Founder and Executive Chairman, Digital Diagnostics, Watzke Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa

Michael D. Abramoff, MD, PhD, is a fellowship-trained retina specialist, computer scientist and entrepreneur. Dr. Michael Abramoff, MD, PhD, (Gold Fellow ARVO and Fellow IEEE) is the Robert C. Watzke, MD Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa, with a joint appointment in the College of Engineering. Dr. Abramoff is also Founder and Executive Chairman of Digital Diagnostics, the Autonomous AI diagnostics company that was the first in any field of medicine to get FDA clearance for an autonomous AI. Dr. Abramoff developed an ethical foundation for autonomous AI that was used during the design, validation, of AI and regulatory and payment pathways for autonomous AI. Finally, he is founder of the Healthcare AI coalition, representing many healthcare AI companies, and a founding member of FDA’s Collaborative Community on Ophthalmic Imaging. As the author of over 400 peer-reviewed publications in this field, he has been cited over 47,000 times (h-index 80), and is the inventor on 20 issued patents and many patent applications. His passion is to use AI to improve the productivity and accessibility of healthcare.

Karen Allison MD, FACS, MBA Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Glaucoma Specialist Glaucoma Service Chief Flaum Eye Institute, University of Rochester

Karen Allison MD, FACS, MBA
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Glaucoma Specialist, Glaucoma Service Chief, Flaum Eye Institute, University of Rochester

Karen Allison MD, FACS, MBA, is a board-certified ophthalmologist at the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester. Prior to that, she was in private practice in New York City. She graduated from Rutgers Medical School, completed her residency in ophthalmology at SUNY- Health Science Center in Brooklyn, New York, followed by a fellowship in Glaucoma at the Oschner Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been actively teaching residents for over 20 years and is currently the Glaucoma fellowship director and head of the population medicine glaucoma division. She is actively involved in population medicine research (member of the population medicine research committee) and diversity and equity research at University of Rochester, Flaum Eye Institute.

Brian Anderson, MD Chief Executive Officer, Coalition for Health AI (CHAI)

Brian Anderson, MD
Chief Executive Officer, Coalition for Health AI (CHAI)

Dr. Brian Anderson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for HealthAI (CHAI), a non-profit coalition he co-founded in 2021. CHAI is focused on developing a set of consensus-driven guidelines and best practices for Responsible AI in Health, as well as supporting the ability to independently test and validate AI for safety and effectiveness. Prior to leading CHAI, Dr. Anderson was the Chief Digital Health Physician at MITRE, where he led research and development efforts across major strategic initiatives in digital health alongside industry partners and the U. S. Government. He was responsible for leading much of MITRE’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, working closely with the White House COVID Task Force, as well as Operation Warp Speed. He also led MITRE’s largest R&D effort in Oncology, focusing on the initial development of mCODE and the use of AI in more efficient and inclusive clinical trial design. Dr. Anderson is an internationally recognized author and expert in digital health, and is regularly engaged as a speaker on digital health innovation, health standards development, clinical decision support systems, and interoperability. Prior to MITRE, Anderson led the Informatics and Network Medicine Division at athenahealth. He has also served on several national, and international, health information technology committees in partnership with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Sally L. Baxter, MD, MSc Chief of Ophthalmology Informatics and Data Science, University of California San Diego

Sally L. Baxter, MD, MSc
Chief of Ophthalmology Informatics and Data Science, University of California San Diego

Sally L. Baxter, MD, MSc is a clinician-scientist working at the intersection of ophthalmology and biomedical informatics. She has expertise in artificial intelligence, biomedical and clinical informatics, big-data analytics, and data standards, with a particular interest in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical practice, research, and training. She is the first ophthalmologist to receive the NIH Office of the Director’s Early Independence Award and has been recognized in Ophthalmology Management’s “40 Under 40” list, The Ophthalmologist Power List of “Rising Stars,” and the 2024 ARVO Ludwig von Sallmann Clinician-Scientist Award. Dr. Baxter is the Chief of Ophthalmology Informatics and Data Science at the University of California San Diego, chair of a data standards workgroup at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), member of the AAO Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and co-lead of the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics Workgroup in Eye Care and Vision Research. She is the PI of multiple grant-funded research studies and training programs and has over 100 scientific publications.

Sandra S. Block, OD, MEd, MPH President, World Council of Optometry Professor Emeritus, Illinois College of Optometry

Sandra S. Block, OD, MEd, MPH
President, World Council of Optometry
Professor Emeritus, Illinois College of Optometry

Dr. Sandra S. Block is a Professor Emeritus at Illinois College of Optometry. She received her O.D. degree (1981) followed by a Pediatric Residency (1982) at the Illinois College of Optometry, where she was a faculty member until her retirement in 2020. She completed her Master of Education at National Louis University and her Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois, School of Public Health. She is a Diplomate in Public Health and Environmental Vision at the American Academy of Optometry, a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Practice and a Fellow of ARVO. She is an Emeritus Board member for Prevent Blindness, was co-chair of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health and currently is the treasurer of VISION 2020 USA Board of Directors.

She served as a consultant to the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program from 1995-2022 and was instrumental in developing the vision program used globally.  Her interests lie in primary care for children and persons with disabilities, as well as diagnosis and treatment of visually related learning problems as well as public health issues facing the equity and quality of eye care delivery.

Dr. Block has authored numerous publications and conducted presentations worldwide. In September 2023, she was installed as WCO President for the 2023-2025 term, having previously been elected as the WCO President-Elect in November 2021 and serving in this role for just under two years. Prior to this, Dr. Block served on WCO’s Board of Directors as the Public Health Committee Chair.

Sara D. Brown, MPA Director of Government Affairs, Prevent Blindness

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Sara D. Brown, MPA
Director of Government Affairs, Prevent Blindness

Sara D. Brown has served as the Director of Government Affairs for Prevent Blindness since April 2017. Prior to her current role, Ms. Brown managed communications projects at a public affairs firm for the Defense Health Agency to promote their work on combat-related psychological health and traumatic brain injury.  She has also represented the legislative and regulatory interests of medical group practice managers to Congress and the Administration as an Associate Director, Government Affairs with the Medical Group Management Association and, working with NRC Health, advised hospital executives on best practices to improve patient experience. She began her career in government and public policy working with two Members of the U.S. Senate for six years in both their state and Washington, DC offices. A Nebraska native, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and a master’s degree in public administration, focusing on the role of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector in defense and foreign aid policy, from Walden University. In her spare time, Ms. Brown is an avid paddleboarder and a self-trained distance runner, having completed over 15 marathons.

Mabel Crescioni, DrPH, JD Senior Engagement Officer, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Mabel Crescioni, DrPH, JD
Senior Engagement Officer, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Mabel Crescioni is a Senior Engagement Officer at the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) where she provides technical assistance on engagement to PCORI funded study teams and leads the translation of engagement knowledge practices into tools and resources to facilitate engagement. Prior to joining PCORI, Mabel had roles at Hemophilia Federation of America, Critical Path Institute (C-Path) and the University of Arizona College of Medicine all focused on patient engagement and capacity building for engagement of individuals and organizations. She also holds appointments as a Professor Practice at the Colleges of Law and Public Health at the University of Arizona.

Lauren P. Daskivich, MD, MSHS Director, Ophthalmic Services and Eye Health Programs Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Lauren P. Daskivich, MD, MSHS
Director, Ophthalmic Services and Eye Health Programs, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Lauren Patty Daskivich, MD, MSHS is an ophthalmologist who completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University with a degree in Comparative Literature and Human Biology and an honors focus in Medical Anthropology. She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency training at the LAC+USC/Doheny Eye Institute, followed by a fellowship in health services research as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and completion of a master’s degree in health services at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Her research and policy interests include developing and evaluating interventions to improve eye care delivery to at-risk populations.

She currently serves as the Director of Ophthalmic Services and Eye Health Programs for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LAC DHS), in accordance with her career goal of working on policy and technological interventions to increase timely access to high-quality ophthalmic care for underserved/safety net populations. Her work includes a multi-faceted approach to improving safety net healthcare, providing direct clinical and surgical care at several LAC DHS facilities as well as developing and evaluating interventions to improve public health systems and care delivery to vulnerable populations.  In addition to her patient care and operational responsibilities, Dr. Daskivich leads a DHS-wide Eye Health Program that seeks to coordinate and expand eye care and ocular telehealth services for LA County patients, with multiple NIH-funded grants focused on utilizing artificial intelligence algorithms to enhance safety net eye care.  She is the Executive Director of LAC DHS Virtual Eye Care, including the Teleretinal Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program, and Co-Chair of the American Telemedicine Association Ocular SIG, as well as a Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology & Surgery at University of Southern California/Roski Eye Institute and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Philip Goglas II, MPAP Managing Partner, Health and Medicine Council LLC

Philip Goglas II, MPAP
Managing Partner, Health and Medicine Council LLC

Philip Goglas II has worked with patient organizations, professional societies as well as the historically black medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary schools for close to a decade. Phil focuses on expanding research and educating policymakers on the challenges of the patient community. He has extensive expertise in the appropriations process and advancing critical legislative priorities through Congress. Phil previously worked for two New York House of Representatives members giving him direct exposure to the legislative process. Philip graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Government and Politics and from American University with a Master of Public Administration and Policy.

Tanner Gers, Managing Director, AccessAbility Officer

Tanner Gers
Managing Director, AccessAbility Officer

Tanner Gers is Managing Director of AccessAbility Officer, whose vision is the US disabled unemployment rate is the same as the US unemployment rate. With over 75% of staff having severe disabilities, Tanner walks the talk. From helping people with disabilities gain employment, to ensuring websites and mobile apps are accessible to everyone, AccessAbility Officer provides businesses and government agencies the suite of services designed to empower abilities and enhance accessibility. Tanner holds a MBA from Louisiana State University at Shreveport, BA in Communications from University of Arizona, and has accomplished this and much more after unexpectedly losing all sight as a young adult after a tragic auto accident at age 21.

Patricia Grant, PhD Senior Vice President of Research The Chicago Lighthouse

Patricia Grant, PhD
Senior Vice President of Research
The Chicago Lighthouse

Dr. Tricia Grant is the Senior Vice President of Research at The Chicago Lighthouse and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She leads in the development and evaluation of new methods and innovations aimed at preserving sight and enhancing daily life for people who have vision loss. A current key focus is to improve rehabilitation strategies that support intracortical visual prosthesis recipients to regain important functional abilities. She is also interested in the intersectionality of mental health and vision loss and is directing a project that addresses behavioral health inequities in low vision and blind communities. In addition, Dr. Grant leads a program that involves collaborating with underserved groups to promote healthy behaviors that can prevent chronic diseases and their accompanying vision complications. Her goal is empowering communities to enact positive lifestyle changes to maintain well-being and independence.

Julie Grutzmacher, MSW, MPH Director of Patient Advocacy & Population Health Initiatives, Prevent Blindness

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Julie Grutzmacher, MSW, MPH
Director of Patient Advocacy & Population Health Initiatives, Prevent Blindness

Julie Grutzmacher, MSW, MPH grew up in Wisconsin and completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work in Minnesota. After college she joined the Peace Corps. Julie spent two years in Swaziland, Africa, where she lived and worked in a rural village providing HIV/AIDS education, mitigation, and community development services. It was during that experience that her interest in public health and health disparities was forged. After returning to the U.S., Julie completed her Masters in Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and later was employed as a social worker in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rush Hospital. This experience cemented professional goals relating to the elimination of health disparities and improvement of outcomes for marginalized populations.

After the NICU, Julie pursued a second Masters Degree, this time in Public Health, while simultaneously working in population health management, providing care coordination and health education for high risk pregnant women in Chicago’s South Side. It was in this role that her passion for accessible and quality primary care was elucidated. She went on to co-create and manage a primary care leadership training program for multidisciplinary medical residents at the University of Chicago. Julie joined the Prevent Blindness team in May of 2020 as the Director of Patient Advocacy and Population Health Initiatives where she oversees the Center for Vision and Population Health (CVPH) and the ASPECT patient-engagement program. She is passionate about reducing all barriers to eye care.

Christopher Hord the manhattan project

Christopher Hord
the manhattan project

Stories matter. Whether they’re about people, products or processes, stories have the power to inform, inspire, and persuade. That’s why Christopher has dedicated more than 25 years as a journalist, editor and technical writer to creating compelling content across multiple media platforms.

As a writer and editor, Christopher has covered topics ranging from business, finance, and technology to art, entertainment, and public policy. Christopher has also done design, layout and production work online, for audio, and in print. With a computer science degree and a passion for translating complex ideas into effective communication, Christopher has also done technical writing for various clients and light coding to expand his personal knowledge and experience. No matter the medium or the message, Christopher strives to deliver quality, accuracy, and creativity.

Larry Johnson Prevent Blindness ASPECT Patient Engagement Program Graduate

Larry Johnson
Prevent Blindness ASPECT Patient Engagement Program Graduate

Larry Johnson is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Speech, in Evanston, Illinois, and has a Master’s Degree in Economics & Latin American Studies from La Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City. His professional background includes:

  • 21 years as Human Resources manager with AT&T/Southwestern Bell Telephone.
  • 23 years as a radio and television broadcaster in the U.S. and Mexico.
  • 42 years as an international motivational speaker, trainer and workshop presenter, having presented to a wide range of audiences in Mexico, Japan and the U.S.

He is the author of seven books. Larry has been an advocate and champion for persons with disabilities all of his life, serving in leadership roles with countless organizations and committees at the local, state and national level. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss, a national affiliate of the American Council of the Blind and a member of Bexar County’s Area Agency on Aging Senior Advisory Committee.

Elizabeth Kurian Chief Executive Officer, Mission for Vision (MFV)

Elizabeth Kurian
Chief Executive Officer, Mission for Vision (MFV)

Elizabeth has 29+ years of illustrious leadership experience in the corporate and development sectors, primarily in the eye health and disability rights domain. Leading highly skilled multi-function teams in Asia and Africa, she has pioneered and fostered significant growth and transformation through social policy change and innovations. Prior to MFV, Elizabeth worked at MS University of Baroda, Nielsen India and Sightsavers. Elizabeth is a recipient of several awards, has written for several publications and holds various board and advisory roles.

Cecilia S. Lee, MD, MS, Professor of Ophthalmology and the Klorfine Family Endowed Chair Department of Ophthalmology University of Washington

Cecilia S. Lee, MD, MS
Professor of Ophthalmology and the Klorfine Family Endowed Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington

Dr. Lee is a Professor of Ophthalmology and the Klorfine Family Endowed Chair in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Washington. She is a clinical epidemiologist and medical retina/uveitis specialist and serves as the Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Ophthalmology. Her research interests include “Big Data” research involving electronic medical records and non-invasive imaging datasets in retina.  She co-leads Computational Ophthalmology lab at the University of Washington which focuses on state-of-the art machine learning and data science methods in healthcare research. She is passionate about investigating the relationship between the aging eyes and the aging brains to better understand the neurodegenerative pathologies such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Stacy B. Lee, JD Professor of Law and Ethics at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School (with a joint appointment at the Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Stacey B. Lee, JD
Professor of Law and Ethics at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School (with a joint appointment at the Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Stacey Lee is a Professor of Law and Ethics at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School (with a joint appointment at the Bloomberg School of Public Health). She teaches courses in business law, health law, and negotiations. Her research and writing focus on pharmaceutical manufacturers’ international and domestic influence on access to medicines, transformative healthcare negotiations, and the impact of COVID-19 on the employer-employee relationship.

Stacey is the Academic Program Director for Carey Business School’s flagship full-time MBA program. In 2019, she founded the Teaching Excellence Initiative to coach faculty and enhance the pedagogy provided to students. She is also an Executive Education faculty member at the Academy for Women and Leadership at Carey Business School.

Stacey is a Fulbright Specialist for her expertise in negotiations and healthcare law. She has received numerous research grants and fellowships for her teaching innovations. Her most recent research focuses on how the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying laws and policies have affected the employer-employee relationship. Stacey has received several awards for Faculty Excellence, including the Excellence in Teaching Award, year after year, at both Bloomberg School of Public Health and Carey Business School.

Stacey was a featured TEDx speaker on “Patient Voices.” Her work has also been featured in several prominent law reviews and peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Business Ethics, Yale Journal of Health Policy and Ethics, Annals of Health Law, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Journal of Legal Medicine, and Health and Human Rights International Journal. Stacey routinely provides legal analyses to news outlets regarding the Supreme Court, Congress, and current events of national importance. Her interviews, quotes, and writings have appeared in the Washington Post, CBS, CNN, CBC, Bloomberg Radio, USA Today, NPR, TODAY.com, and Voice of America, among other media outlets.

Stacey is currently a Maryland court-appointed Transformative Mediator. Before entering academia, Stacey practiced law for over ten years. She began as a securities litigator and later became in-house counsel for two of the country’s largest healthcare corporations. Stacey also served as the senior regulatory specialist for the United States’ largest national healthcare trade association. Stacey is a much sought-after keynote speaker and negotiations guru. She regularly delivers experiential workshops to diverse audiences, including hospitals, academic medical centers, and business corporations, to equip them with actionable negotiation strategies.

Stacey is the founder and chief executive officer of Praxis Pacisci, a negotiations training institute. She is also the author of “Negotiation Matters,” a monthly LinkedIn Newsletter that serves as her vehicle to share actionable negotiation tips with her audience. Stacey is currently authoring a book on healthcare negotiations, which provides a negotiation framework designed specifically for the healthcare landscape.

Priscah Mujuru, DrPH, MPH, RN National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Priscah Mujuru, DrPH, MPH, RN
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Dr. Priscah Mujuru is a Health Scientist Administrator at NIMHD, where she manages a diverse portfolio that includes community and clinical research involving populations across the lifespan. Her interests include health disparities in women and child health; cognitive function; adherence to treatments; environmental exposures; and rural health. Prior to joining the NIMHD, Dr. Mujuru was a Scientific Review Officer-SRO at the NIH Centre for Scientific Review- CSR and subsequently at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Before joining the NIH, Dr. Mujuru spent several years (1993-2010) at West Virginia University where she conducted clinical and community-based research addressing health disparities in asthma, obesity, and occupational and environmental exposures in rural populations. Dr. Mujuru’s clinical practice was in the Occupational Health Clinic that included hearing testing, vision screenings, pulmonary function testing and training, and other occupational exposure monitoring and evaluations. She also led projects in a biomedical pipeline program that introduced high school students from underserved and disadvantaged communities to health sciences careers. Additionally, Dr. Mujuru has guided projects that evaluated public health programs for health professionals and medical students in Africa and advocated for literacy and collected “Books for Africa,” a passion she continues to support. Dr. Mujuru received a DrPH in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh; MPH in Environmental Health from Boston University; a BSc in Occupational/Industrial Hygiene from South Bank University, England; RN from Amersham and Wycombe, and Midwifery from Margate and Canterbury Hospitals, England; and a BSN from West Virginia University. Dr. Mujuru has published several scientific papers in her areas of interest.

Kristen Harris Nwanyanwu, MD, MBA, MHS, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University

Kristen Harris Nwanyanwu, MD, MBA, MHS
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University

Dr. Kristen Nwanyanwu graduated with highest honors from the University of Michigan. Her degrees in African American Studies and Biochemistry became the foundation for her career as a health disparities researcher. At the University of Pennsylvania, she earned her medical degree and MBA from the Wharton School. She is a board-certified ophthalmologist and a practicing vitreoretinal surgeon. She completed residency at the University of Michigan and vitreoretinal surgery fellowship at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After joining the Yale faculty, she was selected for the YCCI Junior Faculty Scholars Program through which she completed her Master of Health Science. She is currently the PI for the NIH-funded Sight-Saving Engagement and Evaluation in New Haven (SEEN) Program, a multi-method approach to identifying and addressing health disparities in diabetic retinopathy. She has lectured nationally on health disparities, access to care, and the surgical management of diabetic retinopathy.

Louis R. Pasquale, MD, FARVO Site Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai Hospital Shelley and Steven Einhorn Professor of Ophthalmology Director, Eye and Vision Research Institute of New York Eye & Ear at Mount Sinai

Louis R. Pasquale, MD, FARVO
Site Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai Hospital
Shelley and Steven Einhorn Professor of Ophthalmology
Director, Eye and Vision Research Institute of New York Eye & Ear at Mount Sinai

Dr. Louis Pasquale is a physician-scientist who dedicates his career to advancing medical research, particularly in glaucoma, and to the mentorship of the next generation of healthcare professionals. He is the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Professor of Ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of The Eye and Vision Research Institute of New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at Mount Sinai. His scholarly contributions rank him among the top 5 open-angle glaucoma researchers in the world.

With continuous support from the National Institutes of Health since 2006, Dr. Pasquale’s research focuses on the discovery of primary prevention strategies in open-angle glaucoma.  He is currently using Artificial Intelligence to help disentangle the pathogenesis of primary open-angle glaucoma and to demonstrate that autonomous methods could supplant costly formal reading centers to evaluate ophthalmic disease endpoints in randomized trials.  Most recently his work on Large Language Models and their utility in guiding the assimilation of textual ophthalmic data into feasible management strategies has garnered considerable media attention.  His work is now focused on developing a multiomic framework for open-angle glaucoma. This multiomic construct will inform disease pathophysiology, early glaucoma detection strategies, and cost-effective precision medicine solutions to prevent blindness.

Bill Porter, Prevent Blindness ASPECT Patient Engagement Program Graduate

Bill Porter
Prevent Blindness ASPECT Patient Engagement Program Graduate

Bill Porter is a multidisciplinary visual artist, educator, and disability advocate based in Massachusetts. He holds an MFA in Visual Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, a BFA in Animation, and a Certificate in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His paintings, illustrations, and multimedia works have been exhibited and published across the United States, Europe, and South America.

Bill is a Learning Technology Designer and Adjunct Professor at Lesley University, where he teaches studio art courses in the Animation & VFX and Integrated Studies departments. He is also a member of a team of five Lesley faculty who conducted extensive research on effective peer critique. They presented their research and strategies at international teaching and learning conferences and co-authored a book titled Student-Led Peer Review: A Practical Guide to Implementation Across Disciplines and Modalities.

Bill lives with a progressive inherited retinal disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Since being formally diagnosed as legally blind in 2018, Bill has used his platform as a visual artist and educator to dispel the stereotypes about the assumed limitations of people with disabilities. He has spoken publicly in various forums about his personal experiences as a blind artist and visual art professor. Bill is the founder and co-chair of the Lesley University Disability Advocacy and Education Group, which aims to combat systemic ableism through events and initiatives that serve to educate the community while advocating for increased awareness, visibility, and representation. Bill is currently co-curating a juried art exhibition featuring work by disabled artists titled Deconstructing Disability, which will be on view at the Raizes Gallery at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA from September 3 – October 13.

Susan A. Primo, OD, MPH, FAAO, Director, Optometry and Vision Rehabilitation Services, Program Coordinator, Optometric Residency, Emory Eye Center Professor of Ophthalmology, Emory University School of Medicine

Susan A. Primo, OD, MPH, FAAO
Director, Optometry and Vision Rehabilitation Services, Program Coordinator, Optometric Residency, Emory Eye Center
Professor of Ophthalmology, Emory University School of Medicine

Susan A. Primo, OD, MPH is currently Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Optometry and Vision Rehabilitation Services at the Emory Eye Center.  She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the New England College of Optometry.  Believing that strategic public health approaches to address visual impairment and loss are desperately needed, Dr. Primo received her MPH degree from Emory Rollins School of Public Health in hopes of being in a position to help combat this problem.  Today, a continued lack of access to eye and vision care is a major public health problem in rural and low-income areas.  Dr. Primo has worked tirelessly on numerous national committees to educate consumers and to increase the presence of comprehensive eye care services in underserved communities.  Her research interests include reducing visual health disparities in at-risk populations.

In addition to community and public health expertise, Dr. Primo also specializes in low vision/visual rehabilitation working with patients who may become visually impaired.  She has lectured and published extensively in this area and sits on numerous boards for the blind and visually impaired.  Dr. Primo has been actively involved in vision rehabilitation research including low vision outcome studies in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, age-related macular degeneration and cortical reorganization, the Implantable Miniature Telescope clinical trials and development of VR/AR head-mounted displays with Georgia Tech.

Randall L. Rutta Chief Executive Officer, National Health Council

Randall L. Rutta
Chief Executive Officer, National Health Council

Randall “Randy” Rutta is a seasoned health care executive with a passion for bridging policy and practice to enhance health care outcomes. As CEO of the National Health Council (NHC), he leads efforts to drive patient-centered health policy, fostering collaboration across diverse organizations to improve access and affordability. With over three decades of experience, Randy has held leadership roles in notable organizations such as the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) and Easterseals. He also serves on the boards of Patient Focused Medicines Development (PFMD) and the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC). Randy holds a Master of Arts in Politics and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, both informing his dedication to shaping impactful health care solutions.

Erica Shelton, OD, MS PhD Candidate, The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Erica Shelton, OD, MS
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Dr. Shelton is an optometrist and PhD candidate at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. Dr. Shelton graduated from The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2018 with her OD and MS in Vision Science. She then completed a residency in Pediatric Optometry, Vision Therapy, and Rehabilitation at Ohio State in 2019. That fall she began her PhD in vision science under Dean VanNasdale, OD, PhD, FAAO. Since then, she has been working interpreting large data sets to better inform our understanding of vision care and vision impairment and working with state and regional pediatric vision care programs to better understand how they intersect with vision-related quality of life. She was awarded the AAOF Michael G Harris Ezell Fellowship in 2021, the John N. Schoen Fellowship in 2022, the APHA Vision Care Section Distinguished Student Award in 2021, the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation Fellowship in 2022, the Prevent Blindness Ohio Young Investigator Student Fellowship Award for Female Scholarship in Vision Research in 2022, the Arene T. Wray Fellowship in 2023, the 2023 Ohio Optometric Foundation Archer Award for Humanitarian Service, and has been a NIH Loan Repayment Program Recipient since 2020. When Dr. Shelton isn’t working she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs, Karla and Olive.

Jeff Todd, president & CEO, Prevent Blindness

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Jeff Todd
President & CEO, Prevent Blindness

Jeff Todd is President and Chief Executive Officer of Prevent Blindness, the leading eye health and safety patient advocacy organization in the United States dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight across all ages and eye conditions.

In addition to his work at Prevent Blindness, Mr. Todd is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Health Council. He also serves on the Advisory Committee to the Prevent Child Injury coalition; the Executive Committee of Vision 2020 USA, for which he formerly served as Chair; and the Advisory Board to Jonas Children’s Vision Care at Columbia University Medical Center.  He is a past chair of the Vision Care Section of the American Public Health Association, has served on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Howard Brown Health Center, and is a member of the District of Columbia (D.C) Bar Association.

Mr. Todd’s past experiences have crossed over government, non-profit, and for-profit sectors.  Beginning his career in the Governor’s Office of the State of Indiana, he coordinated a statewide community development initiative supporting county-level health and safety interventions.  He then moved to an executive position with the Center for Youth as Resources, overseeing field operations for this national organization focused on positive youth development.  Prior to Prevent Blindness, Mr. Todd directed the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, a comprehensive repository of federal resources aimed at curbing violence toward and among the nation’s young people.

Originally from Indiana, Mr. Todd currently resides in Chicago.  He holds a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law–Indianapolis, a Master’s Degree in communications from Butler University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University–Bloomington.

Shanyn A. Toulouse, DNP, MEd, BSN, RN, NCSN, Northeast Regional School Nurse Consultant Haverhill Public Schools

Shanyn A. Toulouse, DNP, MEd, BSN, RN, NCSN
Northeast Regional School Nurse Consultant
Haverhill Public Schools

Dr. Toulouse has been a practicing Registered Nurse (RN) since 1995 and currently serves as the Northeast Regional School Nurse Consultant providing support, training, technical assistance, and consultation for school districts in Northeast Massachusetts. She is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) as a School Nurse and holds a National Certification in School Nursing from the National Board for the Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN).

Dr. Toulouse served on the Massachusetts Governor’s Children’s Vision Commission as a subject matter expert and consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) in the revisions of the MDPH Children’s Vision Screening Protocols released in August 2021. She also serves on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Safe and Supportive Schools Commission representing the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO). Shanyn was appointed by MSNO in 2023 to serve a 4-year term on the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) Board of Directors. Additionally, Dr. Toulouse serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH) at Prevent Blindness. She participates on several local boards and coalitions that serve children, youth, and families in the Greater Haverhill and Merrimack Valley areas of Massachusetts.

Dr. Toulouse is a national and international presenter on school health and is passionate about the unique role of professional School Nurses working in educational settings to bridge health and academic stability for all students. Shanyn was awarded the prestigious Anne Sheetz Leadership Award in 2024 by the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO). She has a special interest in children’s vision and eye health and the connection to developing early literacy skills, lifelong health, educational outcomes, and overall achievement. Other areas of professional interest include children’s mental health and health equity. Shanyn values the self-sustaining benefits of spending time in nature and enjoys gardening, hiking, meditation, and yoga.

John Wittenborn Senior Data Scientist NORC at the University of Chicago

John Wittenborn
Senior Data Scientist
NORC at the University of Chicago

John Wittenborn is the senior data scientist in the Public Health Analytics program at NORC at the University of Chicago. His work focuses on health outcomes research, including disease surveillance, simulation modeling, health economics, and program evaluation. He has over 20 years of experience working with CDC’s Vision Health Initiative, including as lead developer of the Multiple Eye Disease Simulation Model and project director for the Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS).

Karen Woodhouse Director, Eyes on Learning

Karen Woodhouse
Director, Eyes on Learning

Karen Woodhouse is the Director of Eyes on Learning, a statewide Arizona initiative and coalition of partners and organizations committed to improving children’s vision through vision screening, eye exams and follow-up care when needed. She believes that every child should experience their best vision health and learning success. Using collaborative partnerships to develop policy and programs, she is experienced in building statewide system initiatives from the ground up, as well as improving strategic policies and increasing funding to support unique approaches to allow more children to achieve their best vision health. Her prior roles include Chief Program Officer at First Things First, where she strived for continuous improvement of early childhood systems, including preventative screening for developmental delays and hearing and vision concerns. As Deputy Associate Superintendent at the Arizona Department of Education, she established the department’s Early Childhood Education Division. Karen completed a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Arizona, and throughout her career has focused her passion for young children on increasing equitable opportunities for rich early childhood experiences, healthy development and learning success. More at eyesonlearning.org.

Benjamin Xu, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Chief of the Glaucoma Service Director of the Data Science and AI Core USC Roski Eye Institute

Benjamin Xu, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Chief of the Glaucoma Service
Director of the Data Science and AI Core
USC Roski Eye Institute

Dr. Benjamin Xu, MD, PhD received his BS from Yale University and MD and PhD in neuroscience from Columbia University. He then completed his ophthalmology residency at the USC Roski Eye Institute and glaucoma fellowship at the UCSD Shiley Eye Institute.

Dr. Xu is now Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Chief of the Glaucoma Service, and Director of the Data Science and AI Core at the USC Roski Eye Institute. His NIH-funded research focuses on developing novel diagnostic tools to care for patients with glaucoma using OCT imaging and artificial intelligence (AI). He also uses epidemiological and electronic healthcare data to study the impact of glaucoma on diverse populations and devise strategies to deliver more effective glaucoma care worldwide.