2021-2022 Board of Directors

President Joe Sugg, O.D.

Dr. Joe Sugg was installed as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association on May 7, 2021.  Dr. Sugg’s involvement in the state association includes serving as the previous AOP-PAC Chair, and as a member of the nominating, membership, and state legal legislative committees.  He participates in the Brandon Burlsworth Eyes of a Champion program and helps provide eye exams at the Arkansas Special Olympics. Dr. Sugg also serves on the exhibits committee at SECO International, and he is a diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.  Dr. Sugg received the 2013 Young OD of the Year Award from the Arkansas Optometric Association.  In 2015, Dr. Sugg and his staff received a Practice of Excellence Award presented by the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at Southern College of Optometry. In 2020 he received a Special Service award from the Arkansas Optometric Association for his involvement in the successful passage of legislation expanding scope of practice for optometry in Arkansas.  Within his community, Dr. Sugg is an active member of Heber Springs United Methodist Church having served on various committees, in various ministries, as well as singing with the praise team.  He is a past president of the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Heber Springs Future Fund.  Dr. Sugg and his wife, Ali, own KSUG 101.9 The Lake radio station in Heber Springs.  They have two children, Spencer and Sydney, and they currently spend most nights and weekends at the ballpark or gym watching and coaching their children’s sports teams.  

 

 

  

President-Elect Melia Robertson, O.D.

Dr. Melia Robertson serves as President-Elect of the ArOA board.  She was elected to the ArOA Board of Directors on April 24, 2015.  Dr. Robertson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR in 2006 where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  She graduated from SCO in 2010 Magna Cum Laude with Beta Sigma Kappa Honors. She opened a private practice the following year in Russellville.  Dr. Robertson became active in the Arkansas Optometric Association as a student at SCO and served as Arkansas Optometric Student Association President.   She served as chair of the Awards committee, and serves on the Career Guidance Committee, the nominating committee and the convention committee.   Dr. Robertson was awarded the 2016 Young O.D. of the Year by the Arkansas Optometric Association. Dr. Robertson provides eye exams to children through the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and volunteers time and services at the River Valley Christian Clinic. She and her family attend Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Russellville where her husband serves as a deacon.  Dr. Robertson is married to Justin, a certified public accountant, and they reside in Russellville with their two children, Emmarie and Evan.

 

 

 

Vice-President James Hertzog, O.D.

The Vice-President of the ArOA is Dr. James Hertzog.  Dr. Hertzog is the owner and optometric physician of Hertzog Family Eye Care in Cabot and Jacksonville.  He graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, and the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. He is a Past President of the Cabot Lions Club and a past Board Member of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce.  He currently serves on the Board for the Cabot Panther Foundation and the School Board for the Cabot Public Schools.  He is the ArOA Vision Consultant to Medicaid. Dr. Hertzog gives his time to Optometry by promoting public awareness through health fairs, social media and eye screenings with the Lions Club. Other accomplishments and awards include: Arkansas Democrat –Gazette’s “20 to Watch in 2013”; the Arkansas Optometric Association Young Optometrist of the Year in 2011; the 2013 Cabot Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year; the 2014 ArOA Special Service award; and 2014 Cabot Panther Foundation's Hall of Fame; the Hayes Center Practice of Excellence Award through Southern College of Optometry in 2015. Of all of his accomplishments he is most proud to be the loving husband to Dr. Charity Hertzog and father to his three sons, Jacob, Jonah, and Isaac.

 

 

 

Secretary/Treasurer Alex Bell, O.D.

Dr. Alex Bell was elected as secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas Optometric Association on May 7, 2021. A native of Rogers, Arkansas, Dr. Alex Bell received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Arkansas.  Dr. Bell went on to graduate Cum Laude from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee.  He completed extensive training in ocular surgery co-management, glaucoma diagnosis/management, and contact lens and joined Parenti-Morris Eye Care in 2009.  He serves as the Convention chairman for the ArOA. He was voted Arkansas Young Optometrist of the Year in 2019 by the Arkansas Optometric Association.  Dr. Bell and his wife, Lauren, enjoy spending time with their four young children. They are active members of Fellowship Bible Church. They also enjoy attending Razorback sporting events, community, and church events

 

 

 

 

 

Immediate Past President Jeff Netzel, O.D.

Dr. Jeff Netzel serves as the immediate past president of ArOA.  He served as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association for 2020-2021.    A native of Northwest Arkansas, Dr. Netzel feels it is important to get involved in his community. He is a current member of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce as well as other service organizations. He is board certified in the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease. Dr. Netzel resides in Springdale with his wife Jill and his three children, Kate, Caroline, and Will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rusty Simmons, O.D. Director

Dr. Rusty Simmons is in private practice in his hometown in Benton. He joined the Arkansas Optometric Association board in 2017 again after serving in the past. He has chaired the Nominating and Awards Committees and is presently serving on the Legal Legislative Committee and is a Keyperson Chairman. Dr. Simmons received the Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and was instrumental in creating the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an avid supporter of Optometry Giving Sight and the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation. Rusty and Karol have three children, Bradley, Will, and Brynne. They attend FirstBaptistChurch in Benton and in his free time he enjoys fishing and finding new restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katie Brown, O.D. Director

Dr. Katie Brown was elected as director of the Arkansas Optometric Association in 2018.  She graduated from Southern College of Optometry in 2012 and found her home in academics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, as Assistant Professor of the College of Medicine in the Department of Ophthalmology.   Dr. Brown was named the 2018 ArOA Young Optometrist of the Year and has been awarded the 5 Star Medical Student Teaching Award from the UAMS College of Medicine in 2016.  Dr. Brown enjoys community service and is the Little Rock Shepherd’s Hope Free Eye Clinic Coordinator as well as a regular clinic volunteer.  She is a founding board member of ROOTS (Rural Ophthalmology Optometry Treatment and Screening), a non-profit organization, formed by a first year UAMS medical student under her mentorship.  ROOTS has been heavily involved in community events such as the MLK Day Pediatric Free Clinic for the past 3 years.  Dr. Brown serves as the Membership Committee Chair and serves on the convention committee, awards committee, and helps coordinate the LEAD program. 

 

 

 

 

Julie M. Dolven, O.D. Director

Dr. Julie M. Dolven was elected to the Arkansas Optometric Association board of directors in 2018.  Dr. Dolven is originally from Gosnell, a small town in Northeastern Arkansas. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and graduated Cum Laude from Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dr. Dolven is the owner and Optometric Physician at James Eyecare & Optics Gallery in West Little Rock.  Dr. Dolven is on the convention and membership committees, serves as the chair of the JC Beane golf tournament and chair of the mentor program, and completed the LEAD Leadership program that graduated an inaugural class in 2019. Dr. Dolven was selected as the Young Optometrist of the Year for the Arkansas Optometric Association in 2020.  Outside of the office, Dr. Dolven enjoys keeping active with her two daughters, Abigail and Elizabeth, hiking, hot yoga, and is a self-proclaimed "foodie".  She is an active member of New Life Church, and spends her time volunteering for NLC Little Life, volunteering as a wish granter for Make-a-Wish, providing eye examinations for the women of the Dorcas house and the children of the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation through the Eyes of the Champion program.

 

 

 

 

Allison Hall, O.D. Director

 Dr. Ali Hall was elected as a director in 2020. Dr. Allison Hall is a 1997 graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Missouri--St. Louis College of Optometry in 2003 with Beta Sigma Kappa honors. An active member of the American Optometric Association and the Arkansas Optometric Association, she serves as chair of the Awards Committee, and as a member of the ArOA Membership Committee and is a graduate of the inaugural LEAD class. Dr. Hall serves on board of directors of Vision Arkansas, the charitable foundation of the Arkansas Optometric Association. She serves on the Arkansas State Board of Dispensing Opticians, is an associate member of College of Optometrist in Vision Development, an InfantSEE provider, and a life-member of the Junior Auxiliary of Clarksville. Dr. Hall started Hall Eye Care Center, L.L.C. (Clarksville) in April of 2004. She and her husband, Mel, and their daughter, Hannah are members of Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Russellville.

 

 

 

 

Justin Beavers, O.D. Director

Dr. Justin Beavers was elected to the Arkansas Optometric Association board of directors in 2020.  Dr. Beavers lives in Fayetteville with his wife Kristen and their two children Ryan Anna and Hendrix.  He is originally from Blytheville, Arkansas. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Arkansas in 2003. After graduating from the University of Arkansas. He attended Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee where he earned his Doctor of Optometry degree in 2007. Dr. Beavers is the owner of Beavers Eye Care in Rogers and Ozark Eyes in Springdale. He currently serves on the Membership and Convention Committees. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Lunsford, O.D. Director

Dr. Sarah Lunsford was elected to the Arkansas Optometric Association board of directors on May 7, 2021.  Dr. Sarah Denman Lunsford is a fourth-generation optometrist currently practicing in Bryant, Arkansas.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Central Arkansas in 2004 and then went on to graduate from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN with her Doctorate of Optometry in 2008. Dr. Lunsford is past president of the Little Rock South Lions Club and the current District GLT (Global Leadership Training) Coordinator for District 7N Arkansas Lions Clubs.  She currently serves as a continuing education chair and on the legislative committee for the Arkansas Optometric Association.  Dr. Lunsford also serves on the medical response team for East Union Missionary Baptist Church and was the first optometric physician to staff a school-based health clinic in Arkansas.