ACO welcome new Board Director and embrace modern governance following Special Resolution

The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) and National Vision Research Institute (NVRI) held its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 30th May at its Carlton headquarters. It welcomed Members and stakeholders to celebrate recent ACO achievements, share organisational updates and announce three election seats.

Returning Council Members Sophie Koh (ACO President) and Darrell Baker were reappointed for a further two-year term. The ACO welcomes newly appointed Councillor Lien Trinh, a dedicated public health optometrist with experience in project roles in Indigenous Eye Health, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Rotary Australia and the Brien Holden Foundation. Lien joins a diverse team of optometrists and skill-based professionals who volunteer their expertise to provide strategic and governance oversight.

The meeting acknowledged the significant contributions made by outgoing Council Members, Rodney Hodge (elected member 2018-2024) who served a term as President during challenging times from 2020 to 2022, and Denise Gronow (skill-based member 2015-2024), who served as Treasurer between 2015 -2023.

During the evening Members voted to pass a Special Resolution proposing updates to the ACO Constitution. The changes recommended by the Constitution Review Committee reflect modern evidence based best practice governance, and include changes in terminology, replacing ‘Council’, ‘Councillor’ and ‘President’ with ‘Board’, Director’ and ‘Chair’. Other governing changes will affect Board structure and Director term length, among others.

Sophie Koh, ACO Board Chair stated, “The ACO is a large not-for-profit organisation that is growing, and it was important to ensure our Constitution supports us as we strive towards our strategic goals.  Conducting a holistic review of our governing principles and adjusting to ensure these reflect modern best practices is essential to position us for the future success.”

I would like to extend my thanks to the ACO Members Elisse Higginbotham and Ian Bluntish who joined Sayuri Grady, ACO Board Director and lawyer, and myself to form the Constitution Review Committee and worked diligently to determine a set of recommendations. ”

She continued, “It continues to be an exciting time of change and growth at the ACO. I am honoured to serve its mission of accessible public health, innovative research and optometric education and training alongside a team of diverse, passionate Board Directors.”

Several ACO Awards were presented at the AGM, including the induction of Dr Nellie Deen as an ACO Fellow. The ACO’s most prestigious award, ACO Honorary Life Membership is presented to those who have provided distinguished and meritorious service to the ACO and/or the optometry profession. This year the Honorary Life Membership was awarded to John Cronin and Jean Walters. Further awards are outlined in the list below.

The ACO 2023’s Annual Report was also launched during the AGM and can be viewed online here.

Departing ACO Councillor Denise Gronow with ACO Chair, Sophie Koh
ACO Director of Research & Education, Tim Fricke

List of 2024 Award Winners

Honorary Life Membership Awards

ACO’s Honorary Life Membership is our most prestigious award presented to those who have provided distinguished and meritorious service to the ACO and/or the profession.

Awarded to: John Cronin and Jean Walters FACO

ACO Honorary Life Membership recipient Jean Walters FACO with ACO Chair, Sophie Koh
Chelsea and Brady Cronin, family of ACO Honorary Life Membership recipient John Cronin, with ACO Chair, Sophie Koh

ACO Fellowship

ACO Fellowship is awarded to Members who have made a significant contribution to the practice and profession of Optometry and to the community.

Awarded to: Dr Nellie Deen

Dr Nellie Deen FACO with ACO Chair, Sophie Koh


ACO Outstanding University Graduate Award
Australian Universities are invited to nominate their most outstanding optometry graduate through combined evaluation of academic excellence and professional commitment.

Awarded to:

  • Deakin University: Samuel Dent
  • Flinders University: Feier Yang
  • University of Melbourne: Grace Kennedy
  • UNSW Sydney: Yusrah Kanj
  • Queensland University of Technology: Eliot Cook


Outstanding Graduate Award for ACO Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics
This award is granted in recognition of the candidate who has achieved the highest score across all assessments for their graduating year of the ACO Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics.
Awarded to Sarah Edwards


The ACO 2023’s Annual Report was also launched during the AGM and can be viewed online here.

The ACO Board consists of: Sophie Koh (Chair), A/Prof Lauren Ayton Theodora Elia-Adams (Chair of Finance and Risk committee), Prof Bruce Thompson, Darrell Baker, Lien Trinh, Dr Michelle Waugh, Roman Serebrianik, Sayuri Grady.

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