October 2018


Executive director shares vision for ASCRS

by Steve Speares, ASCRS Executive Director

Steve Speares

After 6 months in the role, what can you tell us about your experience at ASCRS thus far?

I can unequivocally say that there is a lot to learn about this job. After a long career in ophthalmology, I felt well-prepared for the role, but as I have settled in, I realize how much there is to learn about the society, its responsibilities, the opportunities we have in front of us, and the challenges facing not only ASCRS but other medical societies as well. ASCRS departments—Clinical Education, Meetings, Membership and Marketing, EyeWorld, and Government Relations—are doing great work. As I have learned more about their day-to-day challenges, I have gained a greater appreciation of the value each department provides to our members.
I have also learned more about ASOA. I have been so impressed by this society and the asset they are to ophthalmic administrators. This group is often on the front lines of new challenges facing our members, and the work they do to educate, develop, adapt, and overcome is impressive.

What are the near-term and long-range goals you have for ASCRS? Have they changed from when you first assumed the role?

It’s not so much that my goals for the society have changed, rather they have been refined. Some of our near-term goals are not as visible to our members. Establishing an understanding of how we are structured internally, how we work together with our membership and with our external partners was my first order of business. After 6 months of listening, observing, and questioning, I think I have a good handle on our internal workings.
It was important for me to first understand how ASCRS and ASOA priorities were established and how we identify our members’ needs. Working with the Executive Committee and Governing Board has been a highlight of my first 6 months. The talent, passion, vision, and leadership displayed in these groups is something we need to spotlight. These talented surgeons dedicate an enormous amount of their personal time to serving ASCRS, and their voluntary contributions are inspiring. The guidance document regarding the voluntary withdrawal of the CyPass (Alcon, Fort Worth, Texas) from the market (see pages 16–17) has reinforced this observation for me.
I am still learning more about how we work externally. One early goal is for ASCRS to become more coordinated and connected as an organization; a consistent approach is a must for us to increase our effectiveness. Other goals are to assess our big picture items: What is our mission? What is our vision? What are our core values? These are the strategic building blocks on which we will construct new approaches to how we educate, innovate, advocate, and donate. We also need to go through the same process for ASOA. While there is much overlap, ASOA has a specific charter itself. We need to give it the identity it deserves, while leveraging the obvious synergies with ASCRS.
Long term I would like to see us grow our U.S. membership by offering more value. We need to retain more members through annual renewal programs and make our membership a year-round value. Membership engagement will be key to this growth. If we increase engagement that value will be more evident.

What do you want people to think of when they think of ASCRS?

If they are an anterior segment surgeon, I want them to think of ASCRS as an essential part of their professional life. If you perform cataract surgery and are not an ASCRS member, I want you to feel like you are missing out on the greatest value offered to you in your professional life. ASCRS is the home of anterior segment surgery. Every day when you get up and head into work, you should know there are more than 60 people doing everything they can to support your professional growth, the growth of your practice, the growth of your subspecialty, and the well-being of your patients.
For our partners in industry, advocacy, and philanthropy, I want them to think of ASCRS as an innovative, active partner whose primary aim is to support anterior segment surgery, patients, and technology. Again, the themes of educate, advocate, innovate, and donate should echo in all of our activity.

You have spoken internally about marketing initiatives on the horizon. Can you share more detail about these ideas?

As I referenced the recent work done behind the scenes by our Clinical Committees, I think we are missing an opportunity to do more to inform our members about how we work internally. There is promotional marketing and there is informational marketing, and we have an opportunity to tell our members more about what we do and how we do it. The work of our Government Relations Committee and internal team is a good example of daily activity that doesn’t make front-page news but is vital to supporting our membership. The planning
and preparation that goes into the ASCRS•ASOA Annual Meeting would be staggering to most of our members. We need to do more to tell these stories, not for the purpose of self-promotion, but to give members greater insight as to how work is accomplished, how they might get involved in a committee or project, and what kind of commitment is made by their peers. A byproduct of this effort will also be an increase in transparency as to how things get done at ASCRS; transparency is always a positive.

Any big changes ahead for the ASCRS•ASOA Annual Meeting?

We saw some big changes in the last couple of years with the development of the “Cataract Essentials” program, which has gotten rave reviews from attendees, as well as the extremely creative and entertaining “The Voice of Ophthalmology,” featured during the Sunday Summit General Session. These highlights will return next year and hopefully will be even better as we integrate attendee feedback. Our Government Relations symposia will be integrated into the body of our main meeting, and we will have a couple of new symposia introduced in 2019.
As for meeting locations, we are gravitating back to a more consistent city rotation of San Diego, Boston, and Washington D.C., with San Francisco included a couple of times in the next 12 years. Moving the Annual Meeting back into an early April time slot is also a big priority for us, but scheduling is not always within our control. We’re also looking at consolidating some activities to become more efficient, but those details are still in the works.

Contact information

: sspeares@ascrs.org

Executive director shares vision for ASCRS Executive director shares vision for ASCRS
Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
283 110
283 110
True, 10