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Illinois College of Optometry to Celebrate 2012 Alumni Association Award Winners

September 7, 2012 (CHICAGO) — The Illinois College of Optometry has announced the winners of the 2012 Alumni Awards. Six optometrists and one corporation will be honored for excellence and leadership in education, philanthropy, research and patient care, as well as for their outstanding contributions to ICO and the optometric profession. The award recipients will be recognized during a banquet this evening at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago.

A Lifetime Service Award will be presented to Robert L. Fait, OD, ‘68.  He has founded a private practice and several companies, including Genix Pharmaceuticals, Pentech Pharmaceuticals and Eye Care Wisconsin, which contracts vision care to HMO’s and IPA’s.  Since 1982, Dr. Fait has been supporting independent practitioners through Wisconsin Vision Associates, a fully authorized contact lens distributor and buying group that he founded to provide tools to help lower the cost of optical supplies. Dr. Fait is a member of ICO’s Board of Trustees and has served in many other leadership positions throughout his career, including nine years on ICO’s Alumni Council.

Mark K. Colip, OD, ’92, vice president for student, alumni and college development at ICO, will receive the Alumnus of the Year Award. Dr. Colip’s leadership and 20 year commitment to the college has resulted in significant improvements including a highly selective admissions process, superior retention rates, expanded student life amenities and scholarships, and the establishment of ICO’s Communications and Media Center. Most recently he has been instrumental in the achievement of increasingly successful fundraising outcomes which will benefit the program for years to come.

The Young Alumnus of the Year Award will be presented to Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, ‘04. He is the president and owner of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, in Tampa, Florida, as well as a leading voice in optometry on topics including social media and practice management. Dr. Bonilla-Warford is also a member of the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and is chair of the Florida Optometric Association’s Children’s Vision Committee.

The Excellence in Education Award will be presented to Leonard V. Messner, OD, FAAO, a 1984 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Dr. Messner is the vice president for patient care services at ICO and executive director of the Illinois Eye Institute. As a professor at ICO, Dr. Messner has been awarded Teacher of the Year by students each year for the last 18 years.  He is considered an expert in the areas of retina-vitreous and neuro-ophthalmic disorders and, as such, has authored numerous professional pieces and lectured across the world.

Millicent L. Knight, OD ’87 will receive the Professional Achievement Award.  She is the owner of North Shore Eye Center and Integrative Eye & Wellness Centers, both located in Evanston, Illinois.  Dr. Knight was selected as the Key Legislative Person of the Year award in 2006 and the Optometrist of the Year award in 2011 by the Illinois Optometric Association.  She has served on the National Advisory Eye Council of the National Eye Institutes, on the Illinois Licensing and Disciplinary Committee of the Illinois State Board, and served 12 years on ICO’s Board of Trustees.  Dr. Knight was recently recognized as one of Vision Monday’s “2012 Most Influential Women in Optical” for her mentoring work with students and practitioners.

Casey L. Hogan, OD, FAAO, ‘97 will receive the Humanitarian Award for her service and leadership to enrich the lives of those in her community. Dr. Hogan has served on the board of Special Olympics Chicago for the past six years. She is actively involved in the development and organization of fundraising activities for both Special Olympics and the Chicago Police Memorial Fund. Dr. Hogan also founded the South Michigan Avenue Merchant’s Association and served as its president from 2005-2009.

Alcon will receive the Distinguished Friend Award in recognition of its partnership with ICO, which has helped to support and enhance educational programming and patient care services at the college. As a strategic partner of the college, Alcon has demonstrated outstanding support of continuing education programs and ICO’s Practice Opportunities Symposium, which provides professional resources and networking opportunities for students, faculty and alumni.

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