SECO Award Winners

CONTACT: Elizabeth Taylor DeMayo


SECO recognizes the exceptional contributions of leaders in optometry.

Atlanta, Georgia – February 16, 2024 – SECO International, the premier annual conference for ophthalmic professionals, proudly announces the recipients of its 2024 awards, celebrating individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the profession. “We are thrilled to honor these exceptional professionals who exemplify the highest standards of excellence and dedication,” said Dr. Michelle Cooper, President of SECO International, LLC. “Their achievements reflect the vibrant community of SECO and its ongoing commitment to advancing eye care.”

Southern Council of Optometrists’ President’s Award

Ronald R. Foreman, OD, stands as a beacon of excellence and dedication within optometry, and has been honored with the SECO 2024 President’s Award. This prestigious accolade is a testament to his unwavering commitment to advancing eye care, his significant contributions to optometry, and his profound impact on the broader community. Educated at Florida State College and the Illinois College of Optometry, Dr. Foreman’s career is a narrative of leadership, marked by his tenure as past president of the Florida Optometric Association, the North Central Optometric Association, and his distinguished service as a Past President of SECO International
Beyond his professional realm, Dr. Foreman’s legacy is enriched by his service in the United States Marine Corps, where he earned the rank of Sergeant and received an honorable discharge, embodying the virtues of discipline and leadership. His civic engagement is equally commendable, with significant roles in the Chamber of Commerce, the March of Dimes, and the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, showcasing his dedication to societal advancement.
His efforts have not gone unrecognized, as evidenced by multiple awards from the Florida Optometric Association, including Optometrist of the Year, Optometrist of the Decade, and the unparalleled Golden Eagle Award, marking him as a singular figure in the field of optometry. Dr. Foreman’s board memberships in various community and financial organizations, like the Columbia Bank and Lake City Medical Center, further illustrate his multifaceted leadership and his commitment to fostering community well-being.
Dr. Foreman’s rich professional and civic life, punctuated by high honors and deep community involvement, reflects a career and life lived in the service of others, making the SECO 2024 President’s Award a fitting tribute to his enduring legacy in optometry and community service.

Southern Council of Optometrists’ Distinguished Service Award

T. Joel Byars, OD, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award, celebrating his illustrious career in optometry that began with his graduation from Southern College of Optometry in 1963. His diverse experience ranges from practicing at Georgia State Hospital to serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp. Dr. Byars has dedicated over five decades to the field, including owning and operating private practices in Georgia and serving on various boards such as the American Optometric Association and the Georgia State Board of Optometry. Recognized as Georgia Optometrist of the Year in 1978 and Optometrist of the South in 1987, his service to the profession and his community is unparalleled. His ongoing volunteer work with the Southern Council of Optometrists (SECO) for over 20 years further exemplifies his commitment to advancing optometry.

NEW! Southern Council of Optometrists’ Executive Director of the Year Award

Mr. Bryan Markowitz, nominated for the Executive Director of the Year Award, exemplifies transformative leadership and strategic vision in his role as Executive Director. His tenure is marked by a series of impactful initiatives that have significantly advanced the Georgia Optometric Association (GOA). Under his guidance, the GOA has navigated legislative victories, including the passage of numerous scope bills and measures to empower optometrists against the influence of vision plans.
Bryan’s leadership has been pivotal during challenging times, especially through the pandemic. His strategic foresight and fiscal responsibility have not only sustained but also strengthened the GOA, resulting in a more robust and financially sound organization. He has been instrumental in developing a successful industry partnership program, enhancing the GOA’s offerings without increasing dues.
His dedication to membership growth is evident through the creation of a young OD committee, a corporate OD committee, and a Leadership Academy, all contributing to the growth and strength of the GOA. Bryan’s exceptional leadership style, commitment to excellence, and strategic acumen make him a standout candidate for this prestigious award.

Southern Council of Optometrists’ Optometrist of the South Award

Selina R. McGee, OD, FAAO, esteemed founder and owner of BeSpoke Vision in Edmond, Oklahoma, has been honored with the Optometrist of the South Award. Her practice, known for its comprehensive optometric care, including a dry eye center, specialty contact lens clinic, and aesthetics suite, sets a high standard in patient care. Dr. McGee’s roles as an adjunct assistant professor at Northeastern State University College of Optometry and a faculty member at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation exemplify her commitment to educating future optometrists. Her leadership extends to serving as President of the Intrepid Eye Society, a Trustee on the SECO Board, and the Oklahoma Board of Examiners. As a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry, and a Past-President of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, Dr. McGee has made significant contributions to the field. Her extensive publication record and honors in biology and optometry from Northeastern State University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, highlight her academic excellence and dedication to optometry.

Southern Council of Optometrists’ Young Optometrist of the South Award

Christian Wyler, O.D. recognized with the 2024 Young Optometrist of the South Award by SECO, has significantly impacted his hometown of Lancaster, KY, as its first full-time optometrist since the 1980s, growing his practice to serve nearly 4,000 patients annually since graduating in 2018 from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Beyond his clinical contributions, Dr. Wyler has become a community cornerstone, engaging in various local organizations and fostering future optometry interest through mentorship and job shadowing opportunities. His leadership has earned Lancaster Eye Care accolades as the “Best Health Service” and “Best Eye Care Provider” across five counties, reflecting his commitment to patient care and community service. This, along with his compassionate care for underprivileged children and his previous KOA 2023 Young Optometrist of the Year award, highlights his exceptional dedication and service, meriting his nomination by the Kentucky Optometric Association for this award.

NEW! Southern Council of Optometrists’ Optician of the South Award

Diane F. Drake, LDO, ABOM, NCLEM, FNAO, distinguished for her over four decades of commitment to opticianry, is the esteemed recipient of the “Optician of the South” award. She boasts a comprehensive profile with licenses and certifications from the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners. Diane’s contributions to the field extend beyond practice to leadership, notably as a past President of the National Academy of Opticianry, where she has significantly impacted opticianry education and community service. Diane has also served on the Allied Healthcare Professionals Continuing Education Committee for SECO International for over 20 years. Her role as an educator and speaker, combined with her authorship in the field, underscores her dedication to enhancing optical standards and mentorship. Recognized with several accolades for her professional excellence and influence, Diane’s illustrious career exemplifies a lifelong dedication to the advancement of opticianry, highlighting her as a pivotal figure in both the educational and community spheres of the optical profession.

Southern Council of Optometrists’ Paraoptometric of the South Award

Savanna Johnson, CPOA, OSC awarded the 2024 SECO Paraoptometric of the South, exemplifies commitment to the profession. Her educational path from Smithville High School through Itawamba Community College to achieving CPO and CPOA certifications, and studying for the CPOT exam, underscores her dedication. At Total Eye Care, Johnson has played a pivotal role, from scribing to training new employees, demonstrating excellence in patient care. Her ongoing personal development in billing, coding, and leadership, coupled with active contributions to the optometric community and initiatives like Eight Days of Hope Ministry, showcase her profound impact. Recognized as MOA’s 2023 Paraoptometric and for community service, Johnson’s journey highlights her unwavering dedication to both patient care and community service, meriting her the 2024 SECO award.

SECO congratulates all 2024 award recipients for their commitment to excellence and their significant impact on the field of optometry and beyond.

About SECO International

SECO International, LLC, a subsidiary of the Southern Council of Optometrists, Inc., has been a leading provider of exceptional educational opportunities for eye care professionals around the world since 1923. With a global membership of approximately 25,000, SECO International hosts one of the largest optometric educational meetings, drawing attendees from across the globe. For more information, visit