Brett Bence, OD, FAAO
Owner, Northwest Eye Surgeons, PC
Bio: Brett Bence, OD, joined the clinical staff at Northwest Eye Surgeons in January 1988, becoming a partner in 2003. He provides medical ocular consultations and treatment, pre and post-operative patient care, and facilitates our continuing medical education programs.
Dr. Bence is board certified by the American Board of Optometry. He has presented nearly 150 lectures, research papers, and posters. He was president of the American Academy of Optometry for 2015-2016 and past president of the Optometric Physicians of Washington.
He enjoys exploring Pacific Northwest trails, biographies on US
presidents, and working vacations on the Nebraska family farms.
William D. Townsend, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Associate, Advanced Eye Care Canyon, TX, VA Medical Center Amarillo, TX
Bio: Lively, friendly and outgoing, with a fun sense of humor, Bill Townsend puts patients at ease immediately. He is a nationally and internationally known speaker and optometric educator on a wide range of topics, including dry eye, allergies, and ocular disease. The University of Houston, College of Optometry awarded Bill the Alumnus of the Year Award for 2015. In addition to this honor, he will be giving the commencement address for this year’s graduating class. He also writes for several optometric journals and has co-authored a textbook on retinal anatomy and disease. Bill was born and raised in Texas, and has lived and practiced in Canyon, Texas since 1979. He enjoys bicycling, sailing, and traveling. He is active in his church and is involved with the jail ministry. He and his wife, Janet, also an optometrist, have two married daughters, Erin and Jessica.
Director, Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care
Bio: Calder Lynch was appointed in March 2015 by Governor Pete Ricketts to serve as the Director of the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, he oversees the division responsible for the state unit on aging and the provision of health coverage to nearly 240,000 Nebraskans through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He is responsible for an annual budget exceeding $1.8 billion and managing a division with nearly 600 employees.
Prior to coming to Nebraska, Calder served as the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. In that role, he served as a senior advisor to the Secretary and the office of Governor Bobby Jindal on matters related to health care and the provision of health care services in Louisiana. In his 6+ years in Louisiana he held various roles at the Department, including Special Assistant to the Secretary and Policy Director, where he participated in shaping agency policy priorities and led key reform efforts such as development and implementation of Louisiana’s Medicaid managed care initiative, Bayou Health.
A Louisiana native, Calder earned his degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and his Masters in Health Administration (MSHA) from the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB).
Valerie Kattouf, OD
University of Chicago
Bio: Dr. Valerie M. Kattouf is a 1995 graduate of the Illinois College of
Optometry. Upon graduation, Dr. Kattouf completed a residency in
pediatrics and binocular vision at the State University of New York.
Dr. Kattouf is currently chief of the Pediatrics and Binocular Vision
Service and a clinical instructor at the University of Chicago. Dr.
Kattouf ’s career focus is teaching courses in the areas of strabismus and amblyopia and infant and toddler examination skills. Dr. Kattouf has authored articles in optometric literature and lectured at numerous scientific meetings on the topics of pediatric eye care and strabismus. Dr. Kattouf also is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and the College of Optometrists in Visual Development, and a volunteer member of the American Optometric Association. Dr. Kattouf was named the Illinois Optometric Association’s Young Optometrist of the Year in 2002.
John Berdahl, M.D.
Vance Thompson Vision
Bio: John Berdahl, MD specializes in Advanced Cataract Surgery,
Corneal Surgery and Glaucoma Surgery, in addition to Refractive
Surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. He earned his medical doctorate, graduating with honors from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN and finished his internship at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. He
completed ophthalmology residency at Duke University where
his published work, research, teaching and care of patients
brought him many honors including best resident and national
recognition as first place winner of the Resident Writers Award.
Dr. Berdahl pursued additional advanced surgical training at
one of the most coveted cornea and glaucoma fellowships in the
country at Minnesota Eye Consultants. As a fellow he received
the Claes Dohlman Award from Harvard University, which is
given to the top cornea fellow in the country.
Originally from Hills, MN, Dr. Berdahl graduated from Augustana College and taught and coached at Hills-Beaver Creek prior to entering medical school. Dr. Berdahl has published numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and his extensive research has been presented nationally and internationally. His commitment to those in need is demonstrated by his leadership role in EyeCare America (which provides free eye care to underserved) and the numerous surgical mission trips he continues to participate in worldwide.
Matthew Ward, OD
Consultant for Bausch and Lomb
Bio: Dr. Matthew Ward, Originally from Ankeny, Iowa, attended Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his doctorate degree from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He is part of an 8 OD/ 5 location practice. His specialties include dry eye and specialty contacts. His office is the only in the state of Iowa that has the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation system for the treatment of dry eye.
Dr. Ward is a paid consultant for Bausch and Lomb.
Bio: Ronald L. Benner, O.D., was elected to the American Optometric Association Board of Trustees at the 118th Annual AOA Congress & 45th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in June 2015 and subsequently re-elected at the 119th Annual AOA Congress & 46th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting® in July, 2016.
As a member of the AOA Board of Trustees, Dr. Benner is a liaison to the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and the Building committee.
Dr. Benner has served on the AOA-Political Action Committee (AOA-PAC) since 2006, serving as chair since 2010. He currently serves on the Advocacy Executive Committee, Federal Relations Committee, Federal Legislative Action Keyperson Committee, Third Party Center Committee and State Government Relations Committee as well as chairs the Sports & Performance Vision Committee.
Prior to his time with AOA-PAC, Dr. Benner has served on the Professional Relations, Nominating, Credentials, and Geriatrics Committees. He has been an AOA member since 1982.
A past president of the Montana Optometric Association (MOA), Dr. Benner has held numerous roles within the MOA, as well as within the Great Western Council of Optometry, serving as chair of the board of directors. Dr. Benner has been honored with the MOA Young Optometrist of the Year Award, MOA Distinguished Service Award and, twice, MOA Optometrist of the Year Award.
A graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry, Dr. Benner has been active in his community, serving in numerous civic and faith-based organizations.
Dr. Benner grew up in Forsyth, Montana, and he owns and operates a private practice clinic in Laurel, Montana. Dr. Benner is also an adjunct faculty member at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.
Ed Schneider, OD
NOA 3rd Party Consultant