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 FACO FAAO FCCLSA FARVO FAICD


Professor Pesudovs was elected to Council in 2010 and was appointed to the position of President in June 2016. His career has been spent in Outcomes Research in Ophthalmology and in Optometric Education.  He completed Optometry at The University of Melbourne, a PhD in Ophthalmology at Flinders University and held appointments in the US and UK before returning to Australia to the NHMRC funded Centre for Clinical Eye Research at Flinders University.  In 2009 he became the Foundation Chair of Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders University where he designed and operationalised the optometry program until resigning at the end of 2017.  He now works as a research and education consultant.  He is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His past governance experience includes roles as a Councillor of the Flinders University Council (2017), Councillor of the SA Division of the Optometrists Association of Australia from 1992-1996.  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 two professional journals having previously sat on another six.

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, chairs the Commonwealth Department of Health's Human Research Ethics Committee, and is the lawyer member of the Defence and DVA HREC. She is a Principal Advisor for Proximity Legal, and a Consultant for AHRECS Pty Ltd. 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.


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.

 Rodney Hodge photo 2018 06 01

Mr Rodney A. Hodge. B.Sc.Optom.

Rodney has worked in private practice, corporate practice and public health. He has had 23 years working part time for North Metropolitan Health Services – WA, whilst running his own private practice. He has had a variety of experience in management and governance roles across many areas of life in Australia, including 9 years on the Council of Optometry Australia WA Div. when it was Optometrists Association of Australia WA Division and six years on the National Council of the same organization, in the Optometry sphere of his life. Rodney has always had an active interest in continuing professional development for optometrists. Some of the other areas of public life within which Rodney has been involved are local government (Councilor, City of Subiaco, 13 years) and land use planning through Perth Regional Planning Committee (Board Member), Subiaco Redevelopment Authority (Board Member) and Western Suburbs District Planning Committee (Deputy Chairman and Chairman).
Rodney is now semi-retired working casually in optometry locum positions, mostly in rural and remote locations to develop a better understanding the challenges of working in those regions.

 Sophie lo res

Ms Sophie Koh BOptom (UniMelb), GradCertOcTher, LmusTCL

Sophie is an experienced optometrist of 14 years and started her optometry career working in the Northern Territory. Sophie has had broad experience working in both public health and corporate settings across metropolitan, rural and outback Australia. She has also had extensive experience working in ophthalmology teams and training nurses in East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. In her 13 years as a sessional optometrist at ACO, she has supervised many final year students, as well as been an OCANZ examiner for overseas optometrists. Sophie studied her undergraduate optometry degree at University of Melbourne and was amongst the first cohort of graduates to achieve the ACO-Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics. She is now the National Professional Services Advisor at Optometry Australia. Sophie's other hats includes motherhood and being a professional musician. Sophie sits on several arts-related committees, including Music Victoria's Womens Advisory Panel and the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards Advisory Council. She is passionate about eye care, especially in the areas of public health and indigenous eye health. She is passionate about empowering students and colleagues to improve their knowledge and skills so they can play a wider role in improving the health and wellbeing of our underprivileged communities and those overseas.


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 (Queensland Electricity Tranmission Corporation Limited) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.  He is a Consultant to National law firm Holding Redlich

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.


Professor Linda Denehy BAppSc(Physio), PhD

Professor Linda Denehy is Head of the Melbourne School of Health Sciences and Professor of Physiotherapy at The University of Melbourne, Australia. She also has a joint appointment as head of Allied Health Research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Linda has extensive teaching and learning experience, at both under and post graduate level and has supervised over 30 research higher degree students to completion. Her research interests are in rehabilitation in critically ill patients, those with cancer, COPD and in perioperative medicine. She has over 150 research publications in peer reviewed journals, including 25 invited publications or book chapters and has been invited to 50 national and international meetings as a key note speaker. Linda has been successful in obtaining funding of over AUD $7million for research into physiotherapy and rehabilitation, including as a chief investigator on five nationally competitive grants in rehabilitation after critical illness, lung cancer and in COPD. Linda is a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine where she is currently on a guidelines panel examining rehabiltation in ICU. She reviews for national and international competitive granting bodies and for several international scientific journals including, Lung Cancer, Intensive Care Medicine, Critical Care Medicine and Thorax.

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Mr Tim Powell

Tim joined the council in 2018. Tim completed his undergraduate degree at QUT in Brisbane, and moved to Tasmania on graduation to take up a position on the North West Coast. He is therapeutically endorsed optometrist and has a strong history of working with local GP, Ophthalmologists, aged care providers and the rehabilitation ward at the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie.
Tim has worked across independent, corporate and franchise optometry practices, being a partner in a large independent practice before becoming partner in a multi-site franchise optometry business which he sold at the end of 2017.
Tim is involved in optometry profession advocacy, and has extensive experience on state and national based boards. He has held positions on state and national Optometry Australia boards (President and Deputy Chair respectively), was part of the inaugural allied health advisory committee to the Tasmanian Primary Health Network (formerly Medicare Local) and the Optometry Australia Rural Optometry Group.
Tim has a passion for rural and remote eye care, and is currently undertaking a Graduate Certificate Course in Clinical Redesign through UTAS, which looks at how we can improve the patient experience and outcomes in our health system.

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 accountant with significant experience working at a senior level in both the professional practice and banking sectors.


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.

Clare Escott

Ms Clare EscottBSc (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. 


Other ACO Committees are:

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

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