Australian College of Optometry (ACO) announce woman-led Council

Associate Professor Lauren Ayton and Theodora Elia-Adams confirmed as ACO Vice President and Treasurer respectively, joining ACO President Sophie Koh to head the organisation’s Council


2nd June 2023 The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) and National Vision Research Institute (NVRI) held its first in-person Annual General Meeting in four years on Wednesday, 31st May. It welcomed Members and stakeholders to celebrate recent ACO achievements, share organisational updates and announce three Council seats.

Returning Council members Associate Professor Lauren Ayton and Dr Michelle Waugh were reappointed for a further two-year term. The ACO welcomes newly appointed Council member Roman Serebrianik, a former ACO optometrist of 14 years with experience in senior policy and advocacy roles at Vision 2020 Australia and the Stroke Foundation (current). The Council comprises of a dedicated team of optometrists and skill-based professionals, such as from the legal and finance fields, who volunteer their expertise to provide strategic and governance oversight.

In the first Council meeting with the confirmed Members, Associate Professor Lauren Ayton and Theodora Elia-Adams were elevated to roles of Vice President and Treasurer, respectively. The two esteemed Council members join ACO President, Sophie Koh, marking the first time in ACO history that women concurrently hold the roles President, Vice President and Treasurer. Denise Gronow, immediate past treasurer of 7 years, will remain on Council.

ACO’s first female President, Sophie Koh, said: “I am honoured to serve alongside a diverse group of individuals who are dedicated to best governance and the continued good work of the ACO. It’s a strong recipe to steer an organisation”.

(L-R) ACO Vice President, A/Prof Lauren Ayton; ACO President, Sophie Koh; ACO Treasurer, Theodora Elia-Adams

Outgoing Council member and Vice President, Tim Powell, was acknowledged for his valuable contributions to the ACO during his five-year tenure and his exemplary stewardship. ACO President, Sophie Koh, and CEO, Pete Haydon, also welcomed questions on the transition currently underway at the ACO to improve organisational stability and secure continued delivery of ACO’s public health, education and research work into the future.

ACO President, Sophie Koh, said: “The ACO’s new strategic plan offers us a once in a generation opportunity to bring about change and the Council is enthusiastic to continue working with Pete and staff to take ACO to its new heights.”


List of award winners

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: Kayla Adams
  • Flinders University: Amy Ricks
  • University of Melbourne: Mahmoud Haddara
  • UNSW Sydney: Johnson Tran
  • Queensland University of Technology: Vyasa Bliss


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 Hetal Dagar


The ACO 2022’s Annual Report was also launched during the AGM and can be viewed online at https://www.aco.org.au/aco-publications/


ACO Council members are: Prof Bruce Thompson, Darrell Baker, Denise Gronow, A/Prof Lauren Ayton, Dr Michelle Waugh, Rodney Hodge, Roman Serebrianik,  Sayuri Grady, Theodora Elia-Adams

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