Governing Council

The ACO is governed by a Council, which acts as its Board of Management.
ACO Councillors are elected by ACO Members on an annual basis, with half the members being elected each year.
The current Council comprises:       


Professor Konrad Pesudovs BScOptom PhD PGDipAdvClinOptom MCOptom GAICD FACO FAAO FCCLSA



Professor Pesudovs was elected to Council in 2010 and was appointed to the position of President in June 2016. He is the Foundation Chair of Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders University and a Director on the Flinders University Council. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His past governance experience includes roles as a Councillor of the SA Division of the Optometrists Association of Australia from 1992-1996, as Vice President from 1993. Professor Pesudovs was also on the committee of the SA Chapter of the Contact Lens Society of Australia from 1993-2000, President between 1994-1996. Professor Pesudovs is a member of the editorial boards of three professional journals having previously sat on another five.


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Professor Alex Gentle FACO PhD BSc GCertUniTeach PGCertOcTher PhD FAAO FACO FCOptom
Vice President
Chair National Vision Research Institute Board of Administration

Alex Gentle was elected to Council during 2012 and, as well as holding the position of Vice President, has held the position of Chair of the College's Human Research Ethics Committee and is the current Chair of the NVRI Board of Administration.
He obtained his optometry degree at City University and completed pre-registration training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, in London. His PhD studies, at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and his post-doctoral research, at the University of Melbourne, reflected his broader interest in the mechanisms of ocular and refractive development and a specific interest in scleral biochemistry. In 2014, he was part of the research team honoured with the American Academy of Optometry's Garland W. Clay Award.

Alex underwent ocular therapeutics training at the University of Melbourne and, since then, his teaching duties have spanned the ocular biological sciences, ocular disease and therapeutics, and clinical optometry. His overarching interest in optometric education has led him to deliver continuing education to practising optometrists and other health professionals. A continuing interest in ocular therapeutics also led Alex to serve on the PPAC of the ORBV and, most recently, the SMAC of the OBA.

He was appointed to Deakin University in 2012, where he currently holds the Chair in Vision Science and is Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning in the School of Medicine. He played an integral role in conceiving, designing and delivering Deakin's new Optometry Program.

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Mitchell Anjou
Mr Mitchell Anjou AM MScOptom BScOptom FACO
Executive Committee Member 

Mitchell Anjou was elected to Council in 2015 and holds a position of the College's Executive Committee. He is also a member of the College's Finance & Risk Committee. He has been a member of the Australian College of Optometry since 1982 and a Fellow since 1985. He worked at the ACO for over 22 years as a clinician, educator and manager up to 2010. Since then he has been employed at The University of Melbourne as an Academic Specialist, Senior Research Fellow in Indigenous Eye Health in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.
After initial training as an optometrist at the University of Melbourne, Mitchell was awarded his Master’s degree for research undertaken at the National Vision Research Institute of Australia. After a period of overseas travel, he took up a position as staff optometrist in the Melbourne Optometry Clinic at the ACO. He was appointed Director of the Clinic in 1991 and was also a senior fellow and coordinator of the clinical school for the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences in the University of Melbourne.
Mitchell served for over 10 years on the Optometrist Registration Board of Victoria, including five as Deputy Chair, and was subsequently an appointed member of the Registration and Notifications Committee of the Optometry Board of Australia for six years. He is a Director of the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand and founding member of the Public Health Optometry Group (PHOG). His other professional involvements include Optometry Australia and Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal eye health committees and Optometry Victoria Optometric Sector Advisory Group.
Mitchell is co-author of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, the policy framework nationally adopted to achieve equitable vision and eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. He publishes, presents, advises and advocates in support of this work. Mitchell's many contributions to optometry and public health, particularly the eye health of Indigenous people, were recognised in the 2013 Australia Day honours when he became a Member of the Order of Australia.

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Sarah Byrne

Ms Sarah Byrne BA LLB GAICD
Chair Human Research Ethics Committee

Sarah Byrne is a practising lawyer of over 25 years' experience in public law, health law, corporate governance, and related policy development. Positions she has held include General Counsel for the Australian Medical Association and two Commonwealth Government Departments, ACT Public Advocate, Deputy CEO of the ACT Justice & Community Safety Department, and Executive Director with responsibility (inter alia) for Research Integrity and Corporate Governance for the National Health & Medical Research Council. She has served on the boards of several non-profit arts organisations and three NHMRC Partnership Centres, and is the lawyer on the Commonwealth Department of Health's Human Research Ethics Committee, having been an in-house lawyer in that Department for some years. She has particular interest and expertise in information law, health and medical research law and ethics, and governance in the public and non-profit sectors.

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Melissa Downing

Mrs Melissa Downing B.Sci. B. Optom (Hons), GradCertOcTher

Melissa Downing was elected to the ACO Council in 2016. Melissa studied her undergraduate science and optometry degrees, and attained therapeutic endorsement through the University of Melbourne. Melissa has worked in a wide range of independent and corporate optometry businesses including in regional locations.

From 2003 Melissa was involved with Education committees for both OA Victoria and the ACO, highlighting her passion for pertinent continuing education for optometrists. Melissa is also passionate about developing quality graduate optometrists and was a Clinical Instructor for University of Melbourne for several years.

Melissa’s 6 years on the OA Victoria Board including 4 years as President and range of sub-committees, gives her the governance skills and experience to contribute to the ACO council in shaping the next generations of optometrists and providing accessible eye care for the community.

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Benjamin Hamlyn

Mr Ben Hamlyn B. Optom (Hons), GradCertOcTher

Ben Hamlyn was elected to Council in 2016. Mr Hamlyn studied his undergraduate optometry degree in Queensland and attained therapeutic endorsement through the University of New South Wales. Ben has spent much of his professional life working in regional and remote locations across the Northern Territory and South Australia. In this time he has worked with the Fred Hollows Foundation, Brien Holden Vision Institute and the outreach ophthalmology service in Central Australia. He is passionate about ensuring quality eye care is available to all. Ben was first appointed to the board of Optometry South Australia (then Optometrists Association Australia, SA) in 2011 and continues in this role. He has been a member of a number of committees and working groups both regionally and nationally for the OA. In 2014 he became a lecturer at Flinders University, Discipline of Optometry where he has a key role in developing students’ skills in the course. Ben recognises the importance of quality graduate optometrists in ensuring a vibrant profession into the future.

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The Honorable Paul Lucas BEcon LLB MBA MURP CMILT FAICD

Paul Lucas was appointed to Council in July 2014, and reappointed in June 2015. After 10 years’ experience in private legal practice, he served over 15 years in Queensland Parliament including ministerial responsibilities in health service delivery and policy. He was responsible for a number of initiatives in broadening scope of practice for Optometrists and other Allied Health Professionals – an issue he continues to be passionate about.

Mr Lucas served in numerous Ministerial capacities including Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Attorney General and Minister for Local Government, and Minister for Innovation and Information Economy.

He holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and in Laws and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration and in Urban and Regional Planning.

He is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at Bond University and in Law & Business at Australian Catholic University. He lectures to undergraduate, postgraduate, and into international programs at The University of Queensland.

He is a Non-Executive Director of Powerlink (Queenslad Electricity Tranmission Corporation Limited) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

He is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He holds postgraduate qualifications in Arbitration and Mediation.

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Professor Linda Denehy

Professor Denehy is a PhD-qualified physiotherapist who is Head of the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne. She has been a teaching and research academic since 1993 and obtained her PhD in 2002. She has extensive teaching and learning experience, has developed curricula in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy both at under and post graduate level and lead the implementation of the new Doctor of Physiotherapy course at The University of Melbourne.

Linda has supervised over 25 research higher degree students to completion and has extensive research expertise in the area of cardiorespiratory physiotherapy, particularly in patient populations who are acutely unwell, including in critically ill patients in the intensive care unit.

She has over 100 research publications in peer reviewed journals, invited papers and book chapters. Prof Denehy has been successful in obtaining funding from over 30 applications of over $6million for research into physiotherapy related topics, including as a chief investigator on five nationally competitive grants in rehabilitation after critical illness, lung cancer and breathlessness in COPD. She has been invited to speak at over 20 national and international conferences. Prof Denehy reviews for national and international competitive granting bodies and for several international scientific journals.

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denise gronow

Ms Denise Gronow CA
Chair Finance & Risk Committee

Denise Gronow was appointed as Honorary Treasurer and as Chair of the College's Finance & Risk Committee in February 2017. Denise has been an independent member of the ACO's Finance & Risk Committee since March 2014. Denise previously acted as an alternate director on ACO Council between August 2015 and January 2016. Denise is a qualified chartered accontant with significant experience working at a senior level in both the rofessional practice and banking sectors.

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Ms Maureen O'Keefe MBA MAICD BSc Dip Ed
ACO Chief Executive Officer 

Maureen O'Keefe was appointed as CEO of the Australian College of Optometry in March 2013, having spent the previous seven years as COO at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.  Maureen holds a Masters in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours and a Diploma in Education.  In addition, Maureen is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Williamson Community Leadership Program and an Executive Education Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Maureen has spent her career in higher education, research and health organisations and has more than fifteen years experience in senior executive roles.  Maureen was previously a member of the Council of the Victorian Cancer Agency for 6 years, including two years as a member of the VCA Clinical Trials Working Group.  Maureen is currently a Board member of both the BioMelbourne Network (since 2011) and Vision2020 Australia (since 2013).  Maureen was appointed to the Victorian Department of Health's Clinical Trial Research Consultative Council from July 2014.

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Clare Escott

Ms Clare Escott BSc (Hons) ACA MAICD 
ACO EGM Finance & Corporate Services, Company Secretary

Clare Escott was appointed as General Manager Finance & Corporate Services and Company Secretary in December 2010.  Clare is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has a wide range of experience, having worked in both private practice and the public sector over the last 20 years.   Most recently Clare held the position of Director of Corporate Services for North Down Borough Council, a local authority in Northern Ireland.  In this role, she headed up a team of over 50 staff and was responsible for leading the delivery of Finance, Human Resources, ICT, Procurement and Member Support activities across all Council Departments.  

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Other ACO Committees are:

Finance & Risk Committee
Human Research Ethics Committee
NVRI Board of Administration
VES Advisory Committee