June 19, 2021
(listed in order of appearance)
(listed in order of appearance)
Dr. Twelker received his Doctor of Optometry from the University of California, Berkeley College of Optometry in 1992. He worked in private practice for several years before returning to obtain his Ph.D. in Vision Science from The University of California, Berkeley. Since 2002, he has been on the faculty of the University of Arizona Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science where he is an Associate Clinical Professor. He was the Site Principal Investigator for the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error from 2002 through 2012, which looked at the effect of ethnicity on eye growth and the need for spectacle correction. He was elected President of the Arizona branch of VOSH in 2015 and continues to serve in that position. In the fall of 2015, Dr. Twelker took leave of his position in Arizona to teach optometry at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Western Kenya. In 2016, Dr. Twelker was elected to the Board of Directors for VOSH International, with his main emphasis being to support and sustain optometry education efforts in developing countries such as Malawi, Kenya, and Mexico.
L.O. Beatriz Gómez Serna
Optometrist Beatriz Gomez has over 22 years of experience. She has worked independently, on specialized corneal and anterior segment clinics, and planning and designing the curriculum of the school of optometry at the Universidad Autónoma de La Laguna (UAL) where she is the current Coordinator of the optometry program. She is a graduate of the UAL. She is a member of the education committee of ALDOO.
Optometrista mexicana con 22 años de experiencia dentro del campo profesional, egresada de la Universidad Autónoma de la Laguna con el grado de Licenciado en Optometría. Ha trabajado de manera independiente y dentro de la optometría clínica ha trabajado en clínicas de especialidad en cornea y segmento anterior. Ha trabajado en el desarrollo curricular, organización y planeación para el grado de Licenciatura en Optometría en la Universidad Autónoma de la Laguna, donde actualmente es la coordinadora del programa de optometría. Es miembro del comité de educación de ALDOO.
Following a 28 year career in an independent optometric practice, I retired in 2015. I then opened my own practice, Simply Spectacles. Simply Spectacles serves two purposes. First and foremost to dispense Ohio Medicaid and Buckeye eyeglasses, a much needed service in our area. Secondly, it helps me keep in touch with the optical community.
I became a proud VOSH member in 2002 and took my first mission trip in 2003. Since then I have been a part of 15 missions. I received my membership in the Franklin Harms Society in 2020. I had the privilege of being the coordinator for our VOSH OHIO mission to Patzcuaro, Mexico in 2018 and co-coordinator on our mission to Chiriqui, Panama in 2019. Being a member of the VOSH community has opened many opportunities I otherwise would never have experienced. Being able to travel the world meeting beautiful people of all nationalities and bring sight to them has been an honor.
My greatest joy still comes from being a wife of 51 years to my husband, Tim, mother to my two children, Melissa and Micah, and of course, my two grandchildren, Ian and Chloe.
Dr. Caitlin Miller is an associate professor at the Arizona College of Optometry where she teaches in the pediatrics and vision therapy clinics and serves as the Assistant Director of Clinical Rotations. She earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Illinois College of Optometry, and completed a residency in pediatrics and vision therapy at Salus University. She has been an active member of VOSH since her time as a student and currently serves as the president of VOSH-Arizona.
Founder and President of Consejo Optometria Mexico
Dr Bromberg is an internationally recognized leader of Mexican optometry. He was the
dean of the school of optometry at the renowned Instituto Politécnico Nacional, lectured
there and at other institutions, continues to practice with focus on low vision. One of his
key leadership roles was as President of AMFECCO (Mexican Association of Faculties,
Schools, Colleges and Councils of Optometry) at a critical point for Mexican optometry.
He received the 2020 AAO-Essilor Award for Outstanding International Contributions to
Dr. Castellanos graduated with honors from Xochicalco University School of Optometry in 2003. He started Centro de Desarrollo Visual in Mexicali, Mexico. An optometry practice focused on specialty services including Pediatrics, Vision Therapy, Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation, Low Vision, and Specialty contact lens fitting.
Dr. Castellanos has a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Ph.D. in education, from which he graduated with honors. He is a Fellow of the College of Optometrist in Vision Development (COVD) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
Dr. Castellanos has served many leadership role positions, including a member of the board of Directors of WCO, current president of the Latin American Association of Optometry and Optics (ALDOO), Past President of the College of Optometry in his Alma mater, Past President of the Baja California Optometric Association, Past President of the Mexican Council of Behavioral Optometry, Chair of Community Affairs for the Inland Empire Optometric Association, Chair Interinstitutional, and International affairs for the Mexican Association of Faculties School, Colleges and Councils of Optometry (AMFECCO) and member of the International Education Committee of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).
He has been an optometric educator for 18 years in different disciplines, emphasizing Pediatrics, Binocular Vision, Vision Therapy, Low Vision, and Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation.
He is currently full-time faculty at Western University College of Optometry and has received the following awards in his career:
1. Leader in Optometric Education – Clerkship Clinical Education
Western University College of Optometry
2. Distinguished Optometrist of the year Mexican Association of Schools, councils and colleges of Optometry
3. Summer health professions Education Program For his contribution to student education
Western University of Health Sciences
4. Excellence in Third year clinical education
Western University College of Optometry
5. Excellence in Second year clinical education
Western University College of Optometry
6. For his dedication as Chair community service for the Inland Empire Optometric Society California Optometric Association
7. Excellence in Third year clinical education
Western University College of Optometry
8. Special Award for dedicated service
International Examination and Certification Board
College Of Optometrist in Vision Development
9. Awarded with the Arthur Martin Skeffington
Mexican Council of Behavioral Optometry (COMOF/OEP Mexico)
Jairo Mercado graduated from the first class of the optometry program at the Universidad
Autónoma de Nicaragua where he is currently a lecturer. Jairo is multifaceted and uses his communication, TV and radio skills to raise awareness on health issues at the medical sciences faculty at the university. In 2020 the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) recognised his leadership by awarding him the Eye Health Hero award in the category of future leaders.
Dr. Pearl received his doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry in 1983 and has two practices in suburban Los Angeles. Since 1993, he volunteers two half days per month at the Saban Free Clinic since and another 8-10 days each year with RAM and Care Harbor mobile clinics near Los Angeles. He also serves on the Board of Healing California. Dr. Pearl took his first VOSH mission to Venezuela in 1989 and was so inspired by the experience that he chartered the VOSH/California chapter later that year with several colleagues. Since then, he has led or participated on 54 weeklong VOSH/CA missions to Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador and mainland Mexico. He also flew forty weekends with the Flying Samaritans to provide optometric service to their eight rural clinics in the Mexican state of Baja Norte and started a non-profit optometric clinic in San Quintin, Baja in 1998-2000. Dr. Pearl continues to enjoy introducing optometry students to the challenges of humanitarian service on a couple of VOSH missions each year to Mexico and El Salvador. However, his greatest interest now is fundraising for Optometry Giving Sight to establish optometry schools and sustainable eye clinics in the world’s poorest countries. He helped to establish the first optometry school in Nicaragua in 2011 and currently leads efforts to develop several sustainable clinics there. He chairs the VOSH Corps program, which recruits volunteer optometrists from the US to serve as optometry professors in fledgling optometry schools in the developing world.
Dr. Matthew Blondin has been a practicing optometrist in Torrington, CT for over 40 years. He currently practices along with his son-in-law, Dr. Michael Shea at Blondin Shea Eye Care LLC. He currently serves as Chairman of the Connecticut State Board of Optometry and also holds a Masters in Public Health Degree from the University of Connecticut. In 2001 he and his wife Attorney Audrey Blondin founded VOSH-CT and have helped provide eye care to over 50,000 residents of the San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua area over the past 20 years. As the clinic director, he has helped supervise all aspects of the missions, including local area volunteers, optometrists, opticians, optometry students, translators and other mission helpers. He and his wife also organized a mission to Emporia, VA in conjunction with RAM/USA in 2019. Dr. Blondin is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry – Salus University and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry as well as a Diplomate in the American Board of Optometry
Audrey Blondin has been a practicing Attorney in Torrington, CT for over 40 years. She and her daughter Attorney Rose Blondin Shea have Litchfield County’s only mother-daughter law firm, practicing in the areas of real estate, probate, wills and estate planning, bankruptcy and business law including the buying and selling of optometry practices. She currently serves as Secretary of the Connecticut Democratic Party and is a former member of the Connecticut Judicial Selecting Commission. For the past 20 years, since founding VOSH-CT with her husband. Dr. Matthew Blondin in 2001, she has organized and supervised all aspects of 19 eyecare missions to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua as well as a mission to Emporia, VA with RAM/USA in 2019. For her service Attorney Blondin was recently honored with the Citizen of the Law Award by the Connecticut Bar Association in 2020. She is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Temple University School of Law and holds a Masters in Public Health degree from the University of Connecticut where she received the Susan S. Addiss Award for demonstrated leadership, public health advocacy and commitment to the health of the community. Dr. & Attorney Blondin have 3 children, Dr. Nicholas Blondin, a neuro-oncologist at Yale Smilow Cancer Center, Dr. Joseph Blondin, an endodontist in Poughkeepsie, NY and Attorney Rose Blondin Shea, along with 6 grandchildren and a foster child from Nicaragua, Orlando Sevilla and 3 foster grandchildren.
Dr. Matchinski graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry in 1995 and completed her residency at the William Feinbloom Low Vision Rehabilitation Center of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1996. She splits her time between The Chicago Lighthouse for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired and is on the faculty at the Illinois College of Optometry working in Low Vision Rehabilitation. She has been practicing Low Vision Care for 18 years and has a special interest in pediatric Low Vision Rehabilitation. Dr. Matchinski is a Low Vision Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry and has lectured both nationally and internationally on Low Vision Rehabilitation. Dr. Matchinski is currently the Coordinator the Rosenbloom Low Vision Rehabilitation Service at the Illinois Eye Institute and the Low Vision class coordinator for third year optometry students. She is the president of VOSH- Illinois, active in the CURE Network locally and faculty advisor to SVOSH at ICO.
Dr Mayorga is a Colombian optometrist specialised on contact lenses who is a distinguished professor and carries out research at the optometry program of the Universidad de La Salle. She holds a master’s degree on Vision Sciences. Dr Mayorga is a Fellow of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (FIACLE) and a member of the College Federation of Colombian Optometrists. She is regular speaker at national and international events.
(listed in order of appearance)
Dr. Moore has devoted his career to studying the vision problems and therapeutic options for young children. His career began at the Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Ophthalmology and the Harvard Medical School, where he practiced, taught, and carried out research for 22 years. In 1997 he became Marcus Professor of Pediatric Studies at the New England College of Optometry and served as a Department Chair for over a dozen years. His involvement in an array of clinical, research, and public policy efforts include being Co-Chair of the Children’s Vision Massachusetts Coalition and a member of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. He has been working on a number of international vision care projects in Vietnam, Mongolia, Israel, Nicaragua, El Salvador, China, South Africa, Ghana and throughout Europe and leads VOSH/International Children’s Vision working group. He received the Jenny Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Vision and Public Health from Prevent Blindness in 2016.
El Dr. Moore ha dedicado su carrera al estudio de los problemas visuales y las opciones terapéuticas para niños. El comenzó su carrera en el departamento de oftalmología del hospital pediátrico de Boston y la escuela de medicina de Harvard donde ejerció, enseño e hizo investigación por 22 años. En 1997 se convirtió en profesor Marcus de estudios pediátricos del New England College of Optometry donde sirvió como director de departamento por más de doce años. El Dr. Moore ha estado involucrado en una serie de iniciativas clínicas, de investigación y de políticas públicas incluyendo haber sido el co-director de la Coalición sobre Visión Infantil de Massachusetts y como miembro del Centro Nacional para la Salud Ocular y Visión Infantil. Ha trabajado en varios proyectos sobre el cuidado de la visión en Vietnam, Mongolia, Israel, Nicaragua, El Salvador, China, Sud África, Ghana y a través de Europa. Actualmente lidera el grupo de trabajo de visión infantil de VOSH/International. El Dr. Moore recibió el premio de la excelencia en visión y salud publica Jenny Pomeroy de Prevent Blindness en el 2016.
Ely Cruz is a business administrator with master degrees on university education and top management. Ely is involved in the financial and infrastructure management of UTESA and has been working with VOSH/International for the donation of equipment for the school of optometry. He also volunteers to make endoscopy and colonoscopy treatments available for low-income people in his country.
Enyel is the founder and director of Fundación para una Mejor Vision (Foundation for a better sight) a Dominican NGO focused on the prevention of visual impairment through the organisation of humanitarian clinics and the provision of eyeglasses for low-income communities.
Dr. Bina Patel is Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Disease and is the director of the Center for the International Advancement of Optometry at the New England College of Optometry (NECO). At the Center, she coordinates and implements international programs in countries seeking to upgrade their optometric degree programs. She has significant international teaching experience in primary care optometry with an emphasis on ocular disease, including in Brazil, China, Colombia, and Germany and providing continuing education lectures in Mexico, Italy, and South Africa. She serves on several committees within the College and is currently chair of the curriculum affairs committee and faculty.
Dr. Patel is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a member of the American Optometric Association. She currently is member of the Education Committee of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), and International Optometric Education of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. In 2010, she was the chair of the steering committee for the 6th World Conference on Optometric Education held in Durban, South Africa and has been member of the Scientific Committee of the 1st World Congress of Optometry in Medellin, Colombia, the 2nd World Congress of Optometry in Hyderabad, India and 3rd World Congress of Optometry in Orlando, USA. She represents WCO in the working group for diabetic retinopathy of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
Dr Patel is also a member of VOSH-ONE and was a Board member of VOSH/International.
Dr. Patel is a certified reader in telemedicine for the Joslin Vision Network at The Joslin Diabetes Center’s Beetham Eye Institute in Boston and is actively involved with VOSH-ONE
Dr. Patel has been awarded the Dupuis-Pellerin Award for Faculty Excellence and the Carroll Martus Award for outstanding clinical instruction. She was awarded International Optometrist of the year by WCO in 2015 and Humanitarian of the Year Award from VOSH International in 2016. Dr. Patel earned her OD degree from Indiana University and completed her residency training in higher diagnostics and therapeutics with North-eastern State University College of Optometry in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Dr. Weiss is a partner at Millard Family Eyecare in Omaha, Nebraska and has a special interest in pediatric optometry.
Dr. Ellen Weiss earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and her Optometry degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis School of Optometry. She joined Millard Family Eyecare in 1995.
Dr. Weiss is the past-president of VOSH/International and participates in VOSH mission trips yearly, traveling to developing countries and providing free eye exams and glasses. She also served for seven years as the coordinator and continues to volunteer for the Special Olympics Opening Eyes, where Special Olympics athletes are provided an eye exam and glasses if needed.
She is a member of the American Optometric Association, president of Nebraska-VOSH, past- president of the Heart of America Contact Lens Society, past-president of the Nebraska Optometric Association, and past-president of the Millard Lions Club. She and her husband, Carl, have three children and eight grandchildren
Head of Optometry, University of West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago
Dr Cadet is an ophthalmologist and a recognised leader in the prevention of avoidable blindness and for the development of eye health professionals. He has been at the core of the development of the school of optometry in this country.
Dr. Rakoczy graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1981. He was a recipient of the Alumni Award for Academic Excellence, the Faculty Award for Clinical Excellence and the Bausch & Lomb Soflens Award, 2nd Place Achievement Award. He spent the next three years in the US Army, practicing at Fort Campbell, KY at both the Division Clinic and the hospital. He came back to his home state, Pennsylvania, and had been in solo private practice until retiring at the end of 2018.
He has been a member of VOSH PA since 2010 and has been President since 2012. He has been on many missions to Haiti, mostly being a trip leader. He has been an active member of the Everett Lions Club for 28 years and has served in all board positions. He also has served on the board of the Southcentral Blind Association for over 25 years.
He enjoys exercising, fishing trips, travel and spending time with family and an explosion of grandkids. He plans to devote more time to volunteering, especially with VOSH.
Severo Sánchez is the founder and director of the Eurohispano Institute. The Institute has educated hundreds of optometry technicians, offered thousands of free eye examinations to Peruvians in need across the country and supported several VOSH chapters visiting the country. Dr Sanchez’s humanitarian work dates back from 2001 with several Rotary Clubs in Peru. In 2019 he was recognized as a member of the Franklin Harms Society with over 100 eye clinics in his record.
Mr. Gehrig graduated from Harvard University in 1958 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1963, and then practiced law in Cincinnati for 19 years before moving to Florida. Arriving in Florida, he took a Masters in International Law at the University of Miami and then went to work for Orange County, Florida, where he became County Attorney. Mr. Gehrig’s first VOSH trip was with VOSH Ohio in 1995. Upon his return, he and fellow Floridian, Charlie Covington, started VOSH/Florida. Mr. Gehrig served as President of VOSH/Florida for nine years and is still a very active member. Over the last 14 years, Mr. Gehrig has participated in about twenty-five VOSH missions, John served the VOSH International Board as a Vice-President and since 2004, he has assumed the duties of General Counsel to the Board of VOSH International. Mr. Gehrig is also a VOSH Fellow. He is an active Rotarian and an Elder in his family (Presbyterian) church.
Adriana Garcia Aybar leads the very active SVOSH-NOVA chapter. She was awarded a student fellowship
from AAO’s 2020 meeting and a contact lens & cornea society honorable award in 2019.
She is currently a member of Gold Key International Honor Society, a member of the Florida Optometric Student Association (FOSA) and a student ambassador at NOVA, College of Optometry. Adriana has volunteered at the Orlando Special Olympics and is committed to leaving a legacy of continuous service at her school.
Dr. Wingert is a Founder Member of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics and one of only three United States optometrists to have earned Fellowship in that organization. He was named a J. William Fulbright Scholar in 2005 and again in 2020 and has been named a Fulbright Specialist to Ghana. Before coming to RSO, Dr. Timothy Wingert was a Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry, where he continues to hold the title of Professor Emeritus. While in Missouri, Dr. Wingert served as President of the Missouri Optometric Association, as well as being named Missouri Optometrist of the Year and St. Louis Optometrist of the Year. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the Missouri Children’s Vision Commission for a four-year term beginning in 2008 and was the chair of the Commission in 2010. He is the Chair of the ASCO International Education Committee. Beyond curriculum development, much of his professional work has centered on access to care issues and providing optometric care to underserved populations. He has authored or co-authored over 100 refereed publications and peer-reviewed presentations, most of which have concentrated on access to care issues and providing Optometric care to populations in need.
Carol Violet Pinzón, Director of the Optometry Program at the Pereira branch. Optometrist, Master’s degree in Health Services Management from the Technological University of Pereira, Master’s degree in Strategic Management of Health Organizations from the Iberoamerican University of Puerto Rico, Specialist in Health Auditing and Specialist in Management of Health Institutions from AREANDINA. She has 14 years of experience in AREANDINA, as a teacher, researcher and now as Program Director. She has extensive knowledge in academia contributing in the development of quality actions, self-evaluation processes and internationalization strategies to enhance mobility, cooperation, and internationalization of the curriculum of an academic program. In addition, she has led relevant projects in social intervention in health, volunteering, and development of clinical practice.
VOSH/International believes in the freedom to see. Providing the gift of vision and eye health to people worldwide. We facilitate the provision and the sustainability of vision care worldwide for people who can neither afford nor obtain such care. Our goal is to increase our global impact whenever possible by supporting sustainable eye clinics, optometry schools and optometric educators in areas lacking sufficient eye care.
Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice
VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.
Even if already vaccinated and boosted, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients. Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its variants are being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021 or 2022.
If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.
*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making. VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.
Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.
Michael Ciszek, OD, dipl ABO, FVI