2021 Award Winners and Finalists

MOA 2021 James Brownlee OD of the Year

Minh Duong, OD

Dr. Minh Duong is the owner of Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian. He was born in Vietnam and came to America in 1980 to Athens, Alabama. He went to the University of Alabama in Birmingham to get his B.S. in biology and chemistry. He stayed in Birmingham to receive his Doctorate of Optometry at the UAB School of Optometry in 2003. That is where he met his future wife, Dr. Thi Bui, who grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi.

After graduating, Dr. Duong and Dr. Bui moved to Jackson, Mississippi to practice for a couple of years. They realized that they wanted to build their own practice. Fate brought them to Meridian, MS. In 2008, they opened Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian. They added on to the building in 2015 and again in 2017.

Dr. Duong prides himself on delivering the best primary eye care possible. He uses the latest in ophthalmic technology to drive maximum efficiency so that the patient can get the most accurate and comprehensive eye exam without being here for hours.

Spending time with his three children is his favorite pastime.

2021 OD of the Year Finalists

Steve Edwards, OD
Mandi Smith, OD

Dr. Steve Edwards is an optometrist in Water Valley providing complete eye care services for the surrounding communities.

As a licensed optometrist, Dr. Edwards provides exams, diagnoses, and treatments of all disorders that affect the eye or vision. In addition to training in eye diseases and disorders, Dr. Edwards is also trained in anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. With this background, Dr. Edwards is trained to recognize a range of health issues; such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes and hypertension. Dr. Edwards works hard to stay current on the latest advances in eye health and vision care and regularly attends continuing education seminars and advanced training courses.

A native of Water Valley, Dr. Edwards, did his undergraduate studies at Mississippi College and received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in 1987. Dr. Edwards is board certified by the National Board of Examiners of Optometry and has served as a proctor for the examination. Professionally he has served as a clinical instructor at the Southern College of Optometry and was appointed by Governor Phil Bryant to serve on the Mississippi State Board of Optometry where he presently serves as chairman. Dr. Edwards is also a member of the American Optometric Association and the Mississippi Optometric Association.

Dr. Mandi Smith was born and raised in Wesson, MS, and has resided on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 2010. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Mississippi State University. She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN, where she was a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society and graduated magna cum laude. While in Memphis, she participated in a mission trip providing eye care to a remote area in Honduras.

Dr. Smith remains active in her local community as well, by delivering lectures to the diabetic support group at Garden Park Hospital and volunteering at the Special Olympics. She has been featured in the local newspaper with her “All About Eyes” column and quoted in South Mississippi Living magazine regarding children’s vision.

Dr. Smith is an active member of the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA) and the American Optometric Association and is a graduate of the MOA’s 2018-2019 Leadership class. She is married to Dr. Benjamin Smith and they have a five-year-old daughter, Addison and a two-year-old son, Paxton. Dr. Smith likes to travel, and when she’s not spending time with her family, she enjoys running and has always had a love for reading.

MOA 2021 Helen St. Clair Young OD of the Year

Tiffany McElroy, OD

Dr. Tiffany McElroy is originally from Clarksdale, MS.

She received her bachelor’s from Mississippi State University and doctorate from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. She is a member of the AOA and MOA where she is serving as chairman of the Grassroots Committee. In 2020, she was voted Jones County’s Best Optometrist and was also the recipient of the 2020 Helen St. Clair Young Optometrist of the Year Award.

In her spare time, Dr. McElroy enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Justin, and their two children, Henry and Claire. She is also a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Laurel Main Street, and Laurel Arts League.

2021 Young OD of the Year Finalists

Mallory Morris Collins, OD
Mary Kathryn Wilson, OD

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Mississippi State University, Dr. Collins graduated Summa Cum Laude from Southern College of Optometry in 2019. She is passionate about serving people living in rural and economically disadvantaged communities and decided to return to her hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, to practice.

As an optometrist at Clarksdale Vision Center, Dr. Collins strives to provide patients with optimal eye care by introducing new technology and methods, such as the fitting of scleral contact lenses and performing YAG laser posterior capsulotomies. She is an active member of the Mississippi Optometric Association and served as the captain of the Grassroots Committee for the Delta region during the previous legislative session.

In addition to stepping up as the chairman of the Grassroots Committee this year, Dr. Collins enjoys volunteering countless hours in her community as a member of Junior Auxiliary, Kiwanis Club, and Rotary Club of Clarksdale.

Dr. Mary Kathryn Wilson was born and raised in Greenwood, MS and now practices in Greenwood, Leland and Ruleville. Married to Cristopher Wilson and mom to Corban (7) and Dean (4), she enjoys spending time with her family and being a “boy mom”.

Dr. Wilson received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Mississippi in 2008 and Doctorate of Optometry from Southern College of Optometry in 2012, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Dr. Wilson has served on the MOA Board of Directors since 2014 and has chaired and served on several committees since graduating in 2012. She is the current chair of the AGU committee and contributor to Optometry for Progress and the Mississippi Vision Foundation.

MOA 2021 Beverly Roberts Paraoptometric of the Year

Tabitha H. Stewart, CPO

My name is Tabitha Stewart, and my current role with MS Eye Care, PA is an Office Manager in 3 of our 8 clinics. Just last week, I accepted a new role as Director of Retail Operations. I have been a part of this company since January of 2009, however my passion for Optometry began 22 years ago where I worked as an optometric technician at Ford Vision Clinic.

As an ethusiast of Optometry, my desire to serve others began to flourish over the past 12 years while at Crigler Family Vision. I have been able to influence other staff members to become certified paraoptometrics and take control of their own careers as a CPO, CPOA and CPOT. In 2019, I was honored to help host and facilitate the CPO jump start training at two of our locations. Although 2020 was not feasable to offer this same in-person training, several of our staff at MS Eye Care were able to spend time studying this material and have recently tested and gained some honorable initials behind their names. Almost all of the staff at Crigler Family Vision are now certified and some are working on being dual certified with ABO. Half of the staff at Meriidan Eye Care are now certified, with one dual-certification, and two of the staff members in Louisville are set to test in the Fall.

In the years to come, my goals include but are not limited to continue training staff and getting even more staff educated and certified. I also plan to write courses with intentions of teaching them on a State or Regional level to paras in different phases of their careers. These courses will cover areas of leadership, management and team building. I hope to empower and encourage others to take control of their own careers while impacting and growing the world of optometry from a paraoptometric point of view.

2021 Para of the Year Finalists

Tiffaney DeCoito
Katelyn Goss

My name is Tiffaney DeCoito. I am the mother of two girls and the Nonnie to a precious 3-year-old grandson. I have been working with Optometrists and Ophthalmologists for 22 years. It is definitely a field in which I am very passionate about. I am currently working as the Practice Manager of Dr. Gregory Loose’s offices. When I am not working, I am most likely spending time with my family.

My name is Katelyn Goss, I’m 20 years old and I work for Family Vision Clinic in Magee, Ms. I graduated from New Life Christian Academy in 2019. I continued my education with The National Laser Institute in Arizona as a Certified Laser Esthetician. I am currently pursuing my certification as a Paraoptometric. I live at home with my parents with the hopes of one day soon moving out on my own. I spend my free time usually helping around my home church or spending time with my family.

 

MOA 2021 OD Community Service Award

David Parker, OD

Dr. David L. Parker is a life-time resident of Desoto County. He graduated with honors from Southaven High School in 1987 and completed his undergraduate studies at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. He graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from the Southern College of Optometry of Memphis in 1995. While at the Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Parker served as a teaching assistant and was a member of the Contact Lens Society.

He was named to the Who’s Who of American Colleges and Universities and was a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society. He received the first year Outstanding Clinician Award from the faculty of the College.

Upon graduation, Dr. Parker founded Olive Branch Eyecare. He is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Mississippi Optometric Association, and the Northwest Mississippi Society of Optometrists. Dr. Parker is a Past President of the Mississippi Optometric Association.

He is a current member and past-chairman of the Southern Eye Associates Advisory Board. He has served as an adjunct faculty instructor for the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Optometry and continues to serve as an adjunct faculty instructor for the Southern College of Optometry. Dr. David Parker represented Mississippi on the National Optometric 20/20 Summit and has served as a delegate to the AOA House of Delegates.

David and his wife Ashleigh married in 1993 and have 3 children; Allie, Jack and Luke. In his spare time, Dr. Parker coaches baseball and basketball and is an avid golfer. He and his family are members of Getwell Road United Methodist Church.

 

2021 OD Community Service Finalists

Minh Duong, OD
Sarah Fratesi, OD

Dr. Minh Duong is the owner of Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian. He was born in Vietnam and came to America in 1980 to Athens, Alabama. He went to the University of Alabama in Birmingham to get his B.S. in biology and chemistry. He stayed in Birmingham to receive his Doctorate of Optometry at the UAB School of Optometry in 2003. That is where he met his future wife, Dr. Thi Bui, who grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi.

After graduating, Dr. Duong and Dr. Bui moved to Jackson, Mississippi to practice for a couple of years. They realized that they wanted to build their own practice. Fate brought them to Meridian, MS. In 2008, they opened Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian. They added on to the building in 2015 and again in 2017.

Dr. Duong prides himself on delivering the best primary eye care possible. He uses the latest in ophthalmic technology to drive maximum efficiency so that the patient can get the most accurate and comprehensive eye exam without being here for hours.

Spending time with his three children is his favorite pastime.

A 1999 Cum Laude graduate of Mississippi State University, Dr. Sarah B Fratesi received her Doctor of Optometry degree in 2003 from the Southern College of Optometry. She returned to Starkville upon graduation and has been diligently serving her local and optometric community for the last 18 years.

Dr. Fratesi is an active member of the Mississippi Optometric Association and the 2021 recipient of the national Dr. W. David Sullins Jr Award. An involved alumna of the Delta Lambda chapter of Delta Gamma, she is an advisor and was selected as the MSU Greek Advisor of the year in 2012.

Dr. Fratesi and her husband Joe have 3 children, Nate (13), Caleb (11), and Leah (7) and the whole family thoroughly enjoys all things Mississippi State University, HAIL STATE!

MOA 2021 Para Community Service Award

Alex Gillespie

My name is Alex Gillespie and I am from Greenwood, MS where I am currently working at The Eye Station and fill the role of Group Practice Coordinator. I am actively involved in the community from volunteering at The Greenwood – Leflore Chamber of Commerce, serving in local missions opportunities, assist in leading worship at church on Sunday and serving on the local volunteer fire department. On the weekends I enjoy traveling and finding local restaurants that I have never been to before.

2021 Para Community Service Finalists

Katelyn Goss
Brandi Hitt, CPO

My name is Katelyn Goss, I’m 20 years old and I work for Family Vision Clinic in Magee, Ms. I graduated from New Life Christian Academy in 2019. I continued my education with The National Laser Institute in Arizona as a Certified Laser Esthetician. I am currently pursuing my certification as a Paraoptometric. I live at home with my parents with the hopes of one day soon moving out on my own. I spend my free time usually helping around my home church or spending time with my family.

 

Brandy Hitt started her career as a paraoptometric 19 years ago. She is currently serving her role as Office Manager/Optician In two of the MS Eye Care clinics: Philadelphia Eye Care and Union Eye Care. Brandy is married to Kiah Hitt and lives in Philadelphia, MS. They have one child, Owen he Is In the 8th grade at Leake Academy.