NOA Awards

The Nebraska Optometric Association's 2017 awards were announced on September 23 in Kearney at the association's annual convention. Each year the Nebraska Optometric Association recognizes individual members who go above and beyond for their patients, community, and the optometric profession. Congratulations to this year's recipients: 

2017 Distinguished Service Award: Jim Devine, OD, Lincoln

Dr. Jim Devine - 2017 DSA The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a NOA member who, over a span of years, have rendered outstanding and exemplary service to their community and profession, and who have distinguished themselves as exemplary citizens and optometrists of the state of Nebraska.

Dr. James Devine has been an NOA member for over 35 years. He sat on the NOA Board of Directors for 10 years, serving as President in 1998. Dr. Devine has served on countless committees for NOA. He was the first recipient of the NOA young optometrist of the year award in 1988 and has been recognized as Optometrist of the Year twice, once in 1997 and again in 2011.  

In 2010, he received the Keyperson of the Year award for his continual advocacy efforts in furthering the profession, specifically for his involvement in the drafting and ultimate passage of our glaucoma legislation and for his dedication in managing the NOA Keyperson program. 

He has been highly active in NOA advocacy throughout his career, serving regularly as a key contact for his state senator and educating other ODs on how to be effective as a grassroots advocate. He served as a campaign chair for his state senator during a recent election cycle and he served on the NOA Political Action Committee from 2010 to 2016.

Dr. Devine is a graduate of Southern College of Optometry and a co-founder of EyeCare Specialties in Lincoln. He is a past board member of Heart of America and is a former lecturer for Williams Marketing, traveling to all the OD schools to discuss practice management. Dr. Devine is a passionate supporter of Shared Vision International and has been on several trips to Haiti over the years.  He also serves on the Norris School Board, volunteers as a TeamMates mentor, and is active in his church. Dr. Devine is married and has four children.

Click here for a list of previous NOA Optometrist of the Year recipients.


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2017 Optometrist of the Year: Chad Hudnall, OD, Grand Island

Dr. Chad Hudnall - 2017 ODoY

Dr. Chad Hudnall is a 1997 graduate of Grand Island Northwest High School and a 2001 graduate of Doane College, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with honors and was a two year Academic All-American in football. In 2005, he graduated from Indiana University with a Doctorate in Optometry.

Dr. Hudnall has been a member of the Nebraska Optometric Association for 17 years. He served as the President in 2013, received the NOA Keyperson of the Year award in 2011 and the Young Optometrist of the Year Award in 2014. An active participant on many committees, Dr. Hudnall continues to enhance the profession and association with his involvement. He has been a great resource for NOA's marketing campaigns as a point of contact for the media and serves as the Vice-Chair of the EyeAssure Board of Directors.  He also continues to serve as a key contact for his state senator.

Dr. Hudnall was voted one of the "Top 35 under 35" in Grand Island in 2009.  He is a member of the Grand Island Public Schools Key Communicators group.  He has also volunteered for the Heartland United Way and does speaking engagements on vision for various organizations including the diabetic education group at St. Francis Hospital, School Nurse Association, and the Veterans Hospital in Grand Island.

Dr. Hudnall and his wife Kara attend Third City Christian Church, and are the proud parents of three beautiful kids, Jenna, Abby, Connor and the family dog Rizley. In his "spare time" Dr. Hudnall enjoys golfing, spending time with his family, reading, and, of course, Cornhusker Football.

Click here for a list of previous NOA Optometrist of the Year recipients.

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2017 Young Optometrist of the Year: Eric Gengenbach, OD, Grant

Dr. Eric Gengenbach - 2017 YODofYThe Young Optometrist of the Year Award is presented annually to a member of the NOA who has been licensed for 10 years or less, who has contributed his or her time and talent to the optometric profession, and who has shown remarkable leadership skills when serving their profession, their patients and their community.

Dr. Eric Gengenbach graduated from Grant High School in western Nebraska in 2001. He attended Oklahoma State University and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. He met his wife, Dr. Tori Gengenbach, at OSU, and together they attended Southern College of Optometry. Dr. Gengenbach graduated Cum Laude from SCO in 2009 and returned to his hometown to practice with Dr. Tim Meyer at First Insight Eyecare with locations in Grant, Imperial, and Ogallala. In 2011, Dr. Meyer sold his practice to the Gengenbachs, and they continue to practice in all 3 locations, also adding a location in North Platte in 2015.

Dr. Gengenbach is the current Vice President for the NOA. He has played an integral role as our congressional key contact coordinator during the past year, facilitating meetings with our congressional representatives, communicating AOA's legislative priorities, and attending the AOA Congressional Conference to lobby for optometry on Capitol Hill.  

Not only a significant advocate for the profession, but also the association, Dr. Gengenbach graduated from the NOA Leadership Institute in 2012 and continues to further the NOA as a member of the membership committee, creating ideas for furthering our membership offerings, and growing our membership involvement. He has served on the NOA Board of Directors for 5 years, providing insight, listening, volunteering, and continually expanding the association. 

He enjoys helping out his family's business, Gengenbach Cattle Company, football, and spending time with his wife, Dr. Tori, and their four daughters; Olivia, Bella, Abigail, and Eden. 

Click here for a list of previous NOA Young Optometrist of the Year recipients.

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2017 Keyperson of the Year: Drew Bateman, OD, Lincoln

Dr. Drew Bateman - 2017 KeypersonThe NOA Keyperson of the Year Award recognizes an NOA member who has helped advance the Association's advocacy efforts through effective involvement in political  or regulatory affairs on behalf of optometry, with special emphasis on building and maintaining effective relationships with state or federal legislators or regulators.

Successful advocacy for optometry requires personal involvement by members and the commitment and involvement by Dr. Drew Bateman has been a shining example. His connections with several legislative candidates and awareness of local politics has provided important information to the association's Political Action Committee in determining who to support in recent election cycles.

In last year's elections, he provided an effective optometric connection to both candidates for the open seat in his legislative district. He served as the official NOA keycontact for the candidate who was ultimately elected and maintains a strong relationship with his senator. He has attended multiple political fundraising events on behalf of optometry, delivered PAC and personal checks in support of campaigns, and been an active lobbyist on behalf of optometry's legislative agenda.

Dr. Bateman is a Senator's Club contributor to NOA PAC, a regular attendee at the NOA Legislative Conference, and has provided input to the NOA Legislative Committee.

Dr. Bateman is a 2007 graduate of Indiana University, School of Optometry.

Click here for a list of previous NOA Keyperson of the Year recipients.

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2017 Paraoptometric of the Year: Bridget M. Neal, CPO

Bridget M. Neal, CPO - 2017 PARAThe NOA Paraoptometric of the Year Award is presented to a paraoptometric who has made outstanding contributions to the fields of paraoptometry and optometry, been an asset to their doctor(s), advanced themselves with continuing education and a commitment to the profession with a number of years in the field. Self-discipline and professional conduct are also criteria for which the award is judged, along with the paraoptometric's accomplishments in the profession.

Bridget Neal has worked at Eye Care West P.C. for over 27 years. She is a vital member of the Eye Care West family. Bridget began when she was a patient of Dr. Gradowski's. Each year he saw her, he knew her upbeat personality would be a perfect fit for his office. He asked her to join his team in 1990 and with a leap of faith, she accepted. From there, she became his "go to" person for virtually any patient need. She is able to help in any area of the office, but is in charge of insurance and billing. She may have felt like the sky was falling during the transition to EMR, but survived. Somehow, she made the transition to ICD-10 seem easy and MIPS seem less scary.

Not only does Bridget do a wide spectrum of jobs at the office, she also keeps busy outside of work. She loves to spend time with her husband of 28 years, Tom, whether it be volunteering for Nebraska Organ Recovery events, Nebraska Kidney Association events, or participating in Women Who Wine. She also is a primary caregiver to her mother and her fur baby Vinny. Bridget has lots of nieces, nephews, and Godchildren, whom she loves to spoil. Bridget is also very involved with her church as a Eucharistic minister; she is in the Ladies Club and participates in Lenten fish fries and other social events in whatever capacity they need.

The most impressive thing about Bridget is her ability to think of other people's needs. She loves to do little things for people just to see them smile. There isn't a birthday, bosses' day, or holiday that goes by forgotten! Patients come in and ask for her all the time as her personality is one which leaves you wanting more. Bridget Neal is a very devoted person to the team of Eye Care West, her family, and to the Optometric profession in the state of Nebraska.

Click here for a list of previous NOA Paraoptometric of the Year recipients.

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