CAO Leadership


Dr. Michael Nelson received his Optometry degree in Waterloo, ON and completed a family practice & low vision residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He served as the continuing education chair for the Manitoba Association of Optometrists (MAO), and was the president of the MAO from 2000-2003. Recently he was the co-chair for the Canadian Association of Optometrists Congress hosted in Winnipeg in 2011. His interests lie in low vision, contact lenses and management of ocular diseases. He loves to keep up-to-date on the latest in ocular research, diagnostic equipment and lens technology. Dr. Nelson is also the clinical director of Eye Canada, a center dedicated to eye research and helping individuals with vision impairments.

Past President 

Dr. Michael Dennis attended McMaster University where he obtained his BSc in biology. He was accepted to the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and graduated with his OD in 1981. Since then he has practiced in Prince George, BC. He enjoys general practice and the opportunity to care for the people of Northern BC.   Dr. Dennis has a keen interest in diabetes and how it affects eyes and has helped Diabetes Canada assist people living with diabetes.  He is a past president of the BC Doctors of Optometry and served on the board of the College of Optometrists. 

Council Member - Student Representative

Véronique Small will complete her Doctor of optometry degree in 2022 at the University of Montreal. In addition to her role on Council, Ms. Small is the University President of the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS). Since the start of her studies, Ms. Small has attached great importance to student involvement and to promoting the interests of the profession. She is also interested in various public health issues. A native of Montreal, Ms. Small is passionate about travelling and looks forward to participating in humanitarian missions where she can offer vision care. 

Council Member - British Columbia

Dr. Surjinder Sahota graduated from the Doctor of Optometry program at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) and was then accepted into a prestigious residency program at the Illinois Eye Institute in Ocular Disease/Primary Care. She had the unique opportunity to work with world renowned ophthalmologists from the University of Chicago. After completing her residency, Dr. Sahota went back to her hometown of Williams Lake to practice. Dr. Sahota has served on the board of the British Columbia Doctors of Optometry since 2008, including serving a term as President.  She has a passion for public education and has worked with the public relations committee in helping educate patients about the importance of eye health and preservation of vision.

Council Member - Alberta

Dr. Kim Bugera graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science in 1996, the recipient of various awards, scholarships and honours.  In addition to serving on the Board of the Alberta Association of Optometrists, Dr. Bugera was an active member of the council for the Alberta College of Optometry, including serving a term as President. Dr. Bugera spearheaded the efforts of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre Optometry Clinic to help those less fortunate in downtown Edmonton, and has shared that passion for helping others through her involvement in vision care missions in more than ten developing countries, including Kenya, Peru and the Philippines.

Council Member - Saskatchewan

Dr. Barry Thienes graduated from the School of Optometry at the University of Waterloo in 1975. He was on the Council of the Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists 1979-93 and was involved with the rewriting of the Optometry Act of 1985. He has held a range of leadership positions including President of the SAO, Registrar of the SAO, Chairman of  the SAO Discipline committee as well as Chairman of Saskatchewan Optometric Foundation and Optometric Lliaison to National Health and Welfare for Saskatchewan. In addition to these contributions to the profession and his role on CAO's governing council since 2007, Dr Thienes has run a successful private Optometry practice in Saskatchewan since 1975.

Council Member - Manitoba 

Dr. Luke Small graduated with a BSc in Environmental Science from Texas Christian University and his Doctorate of Optometry from the University of California Berkeley School of Optometry.  Upon graduation from Berkeley, he returned to Canada for two years before returning to the  United States, practicing in Santa Barbara and gaining valuable experience working in numerous different modes of optometric practices including private, corporate, refractive surgery and hospital-based optometry.  He also served as the president of the Tri-County Optometric Association (a chapter of the California Optometric Association). Dr. Small returned to Canada in 2007, continuing the nearly 100 years of optometric service that Armstrong and Small Eye Care Center has provided to the Winnipeg community.  A volunteer with the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH), Dr. Small has been involved with trips to Peru, Philippines, Ukraine, and Baja Mexico.  He was voted ‘Optometrist of the Year’ by his fellow Manitoba Optometrists for his volunteer work with Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Siloam Mission, and the Manitoba Association of Optometrists (MAO).  He currently serves on the board of the provincial chapter of the CNIB.  As a member of the Manitoba Association of Optometrists, Dr. Small sits on the Public Relations and Communications committee and serves as the provincial liaison to the CNIB.

Council Member - Ontario

Dr. Agata Majewski attended Western University where she obtained her BSc. in Biology. She then received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Indiana University in 2007. She has served on the Board of the Ontario Association of Optometrists since 2018 including a term as a Chair of the Board Development Committee. Dr. Majewski currently practices in Toronto and is passionate about helping patients with dry eye as well as improving lives through Vision Therapy.

Council Member - Québec

Dr. Martin Spiro completed his doctorate of optometry at the University of Montreal in 2014. He was the recipient of the Optometric Association’s prestigious student of the year award. Dr. Spiro holds a bachelor of science in human physiology from McGill University, where he also completed an internship in cancer research. In the optometric field, Dr. Spiro’s clinical research was honored by the Allergan Society’s prize of excellence. With strong passion for eye care and an emphasis on inter-personal skills, Dr. Spiro is an active participant in the optometric community. He is the current representative for the province of Quebec at the Canadian Association of Optometrists and was recently named by Johnson & Johnson as one of Canada’s top 40 optometrists under 40. Dr. Spiro enjoys providing vision care to the west island community of Montreal at Optika Eye-Care Center. He also shares his time with the Montreal Association of the Blind (MAB-Mackay) working with patients suffering from visual impairment and has collaborated in humanitarian efforts travelling to South-America to provide eye-exams.

Council Member - New Brunswick

Dr. Harry Bohnsack practices in Fredericton, NB along with his wife and partner Dr. Paula Steffler. A UWSO graduate, Dr. Bohnsack started his practice in Oakville, ON. He relocated to Fredericton NB where he has practiced for close to two decades in a full-scope setting. Dr. Bohnsack has served the NBAO as Media and Public Relations Chair for many years, as President from 2003-2005, and currently serves as Government Relations Chair and CAO Delegate. His other interests include music, travel, languages, books and gardening. He has been a member of Rotary for 25 years and has served in various capacities including club president. 

Council Member - Nova Scotia

Dr. Allison Scott graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2006. She has been practicing in the Halifax area since graduation and enjoys working in a family practice, sometimes seeing multiple family generations. She has also recently started a specialty contact lens practice. Dr. Scott has been on the NSAO council since 2011 and has served many roles, including president. Dr Scott has served on their public education and continuing education committees. She is also an official with Skate Canada and enjoys volunteering at local events in the capacity of figure skating judge.

Council Member - Prince Edward Island

Dr. Alanna Stetson graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Prince Edward Island in 2008, completing her Doctorate of Optometry at the University of Waterloo and Vision Science in 2012. She has been practicing in Summerside, PEI since her graduation. Dr. Stetson has been a member of the Council for the PEI Association of Optometrists (PEIAO) since 2013. She served as the PEIAO secretary for six years before becoming the PEI representative to CAO Council.

Council Member - Newfoundland & Labrador

Dr. Patrick Kean graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1997 and returned to Newfoundland, currently practicing in Gander, Newfoundland. Dr. Kean joined the Board of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists Board in 1998, serving more than 12 years serving in all positions, including President. He returned to the Board in 2017 to serve as the CAO Council representative. Currently past President of the Gander Rotary Club, Dr. Kean enjoys many outdoor and sporting activities.

List of Past Presidents

Chief Executive Officer

François Couillard was born and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Early in his professional career he worked for Johnson & Johnson in various progressively responsible Sales and Corporate Marketing management roles before moving to MDS Nordion in senior roles in Canada and Europe, including as General Manager for the MDS European Operations in Belgium. After various executive roles at the Canadian Red Cross and VON Canada, along with running a successful management consulting practise largely focused on business innovation and organizational mentoring, he moved to become the CEO of the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists, a role he held since 2013. François is pleased to continue to work in the area of health care, where his deep advocacy, stakeholder engagement and marketing/communications expertise can continue to be leveraged on behalf of eye health and vision care in Canada. He also serves as the Co-Chair of HEAL (Organizations for Health Action). François graduated from the University of Sherbrooke with a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering), and from McGill University in Montreal with an MBA in Marketing and International Business. He is also a Certified Management Consultant (CMC).


Past Executive Directors
  • Laurie Clement: Chief Executive Officer July 2013 - Aug 2019
  • Glenn Campbell: Executive Director June 1998 – July 2013
  • Michael J. DiCola:  Administrative Officer/Executive Director July 1992 – June 1998
  • Gérard A. Lambert:  Executive Director September 1983 – June 1992
  • Donald (Don) N. Schaefer:  Executive Director October 1974 – September 1983
  • Gregory (Greg) J. Walsh: Executive Director June 1971 – October 1974
  • H.G. (Mel) Mellow:  Executive Director February 1968 – May 1971
  • James (Jim) Gilmore:   Executive Director January 1964 – January 1968
  • Edward B. Higgins:  Manager