The Little Association That Could

Meet Daniel Livingston: President, Opticians Association of Colorado

"We want to cultivate a small community of dedicated professionals who can gather, trade information, get some CEs, and just have fun and talk shop."

OAA: What Sparked the idea to start a professional association in Colorado?

DL: Colorado is an unregulated state so organizing a real association is difficult. My goal as president is to cultivate a community of opticians and optical industry professionals who are interested in collaborating and socializing outside of just CE events, and to make membership in the Colorado Association both valuable to our members and a point of pride. To do so we first need to get more official, and that is why for the first time we are joining the OAA.

OAA: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DL: I've been a professional optician for 22 years. I got my start in corporate retail optical, and learned the trade in true apprenticeship style by working side-by-side with very skilled industry veterans. I love learning news skills and enjoy technical work, so I took to it like a duck to water. I got my ABO, joined the Board of our little state association, and for the last fourteen years I've been the Optical Manager at a small mom & pop optometry practice in the greater Denver area.

OAA: Why do you think it is so important to have an association in your state?

DL: In an unregulated state like Colorado, for many opticians it's just a job. But there are still many, like me, who have made careers out of opticianry or other jobs in our industry, have a passion for it, and would like to get together with other professionals like themselves. For a long time there has been little available in Colorado for such professional opticians, and I hope to change that. We don't aim to be large or far-reaching, but we do want to cultivate a small community of dedicated professionals who can gather, trade information, get some CEs, and just have fun and talk shop.

OAA: How difficult or complicated has it been to start this association?

DL: The challenges are significant. There is so much inertia holding opticianry at a dead stop in Colorado, that most opticians don't even know that there is an organization for their trade, either locally or nationally. Our biggest challenge is twofold: just getting the word out that we exist, and then convincing opticians that association membership is worth it. We look forward to OAA membership helping us address both those issues. It's slow going, but if we just successfully add (and retain) a handful of interested and dedicated opticians every year, we'll be in great shape.

OAA: What can you say to anyone thinking about doing something similar in their state that does not have an association?

DL: Just do it! I had the fortune of coming into a small association that had already been organized into a legal entity with Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, so I didn't have to do any of that work. But if there is literally no organization at all, the rules are zero. You don't have to start out as an official state registered association. Get a few interested opticians together and start a club. Find like-minded people to join the club. Eventually you'll garner enough members and interest that people are willing to devote the energy to formalizing the group. If there's just five or ten of you, that's fine, you can still make an organization and a brand that you are proud to be a part of and that helps promote your pride in being an optician.

Thank you Daniel!

Want more information about Opticians Association of Colorado? Connect here.