CAO Leadership

Our Vision: Healthy eyes and clear vision for all Canadians. For life.

Role of CAO and Optometrists

Organizational Information


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. He is currently the BC Councillor for the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Past President 

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 - Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS)

Wynn Nguyen-Le is completing her Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Waterloo and will be graduating in April 2020. She is currently the president of the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS). She represents all Canadian students studying in North America and leads a team of 25 students to build programs that enhance the professional and clinical development of optometry students during their education and beyond. She is also passionate about global vision health, having recently participated in an optometry mission trip in Ecuador. Wynn was also an ambassador for Optometry Giving Sight, planning fundraisers to raise involvement for global prevention of blindness.

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 been the president of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists since February 2011 and has served on the board since 2008. 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. Aaron Patel has practiced primary eye care optometry for over fifteen years.  He has been located in Edmonton for twelve years and previously practiced in Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C.  He graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in 1997 and from Pacific University College of Optometry in 2002.  Prior to opening the Alberta Eye Health Clinic in 2006, Dr. Patel practiced in several different optometry clinics, including a Lasik center, a pediatric eye care clinic and a hospital setting.  Dr. Patel is very happy to see new patients with any type of eye health or vision concerns and has a special interest in helping people suffering with dry eyes.   Prior to joining the CAO Council as the member for Alberta, he was past president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists.  Dr. Patel makes annual humanitarian visits to provide eye care in less fortunate countries, including Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Belize, Jamaica and the Philippines.

Council Member - Saskatchewan

Dr. Kevin Woodard .


Council Member - Manitoba - CAO Vice President

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.

Council Member - Ontario

Dr. Thomas Noel graduated from the University of Montreal School of Optometry in 2000 and became the owner of the McLeod Optometry Clinic in downtown Ottawa in 2005.  In addition to serving on the CAO Council, Dr. Noel is the Vice-President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists.  He is also Co-Chair of the Glaucoma Quality Standard Clinical Expert Advisory Group for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and a Committee Member of the Champlain LHIN’s Vision Care Network.  Dr. Noel was a member of the Board of the Ontario College of Optometrists for ten years, serving as President from 2015-2017.  In 2010, Dr. Noel helped establish the Eye Health Council of Ontario (EHCO), a coalition of optometry, ophthalmology and academia, serving as Co-Chair from 2010-2016.

Council Member - Québec

Dr. Martin Spiro completed his doctorate of optometry at the University of Montreal. 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 also 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 has on numerous occasions represented his peers at various optometric functions across the continent and has collaborated in humanitarian efforts travelling to South-America to provide eye-exams. Dr. Spiro enjoys practicing with Optika in an environment of exceptional care and service.

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. Angela Arsenault graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 2010. Prior to this, she received her Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Prince Edward Island. Since graduating she has been practicing in both Summerside and Alberton PEI. Dr. Arsenault has been actively involved with the PEIAO as chair of the Children’s Vision Committee since 2010. She became the PEIAO representative on the Canadian Association of Optometrists council in 2015.

Council Member - Newfoundland & Labrador

Dr Patrick Kean

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.

Chief Executive Officer

Laurie Clement has spent the greater part of her thirty year career in non-governmental organiza­tions, the past ten at the Executive Director level. Her prior 15 years of experience were with the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the national professional voice of 150,000 registered nurses in Canada. For the past ten years, she served as Executive Director for two national, charitable organizations. At the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, alongside a staff of 3 and a board of 20, she had the opportunity to build an organization from the ground up. Her strengths lie in: leader­ship, collaboration, strategic planning, operational and financial management, communications and marketing. Fluent in Canada's two official languages, she is also conversant in Spanish.