The Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund (COETF) was established by the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) in 1977. A registered charitable organization, the COETF supports optometric research, education and professional development through unrestricted cash awards to individuals and institutions. Since 1977, the COETF has awarded over two million dollars in grants and financial support. In 2014, the COETF moved to an independent management structure and is currently managed by the Board of Trustees and various Provincial Fundraising Chairs. The Board of Trustees consists of five members of the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) and the term for each Trustee is three years.
Please click here to review the COETF Bylaws revised in 2020.
Board Of Trustees:
Joan Hansen was born and raised with three sisters on a small beef farm in Lundar Manitoba. Joan graduated from the School of Optometry in Waterloo, Ontario in 1979. Upon graduation, she worked in Winnipeg with Bruce Rosner and Steve Mintz until 1982. She moved to Tsawwassen in 1982 and opened her practice in January 1983.
Joan was president of the BC Association of Optometrists from 1995-1997and served as President of the Canadian Association of Optometrists 2004- 2005. Joan also chaired the Optometry Giving Sight in its early years and currently chairs The Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund (COETF).
Joan was also an elected member of the BC Board of Examiners in Optometry (2000 – 2003) and is currently an elected member and serves as Vice President of the BC College of Optometrists. Since 2009 she has organized and run a small Continuing Education program for Optometrists. Joan is also community-oriented with past involvement as the director of the Tsawwassen Business association, Director of the Business Improvement Association, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Retirement Centre Foundation. She has been a member of the Rotary Club of Tswassen since it chartered in 1992 – serving as president 1999 – 2000.
She has been a TV Colour commentator for the local Summer Sun Festival Parade and hosted a weekly hour long open line radio show 1997 – 1999.
Joan loves to putter in her garden in her spare time.
Dr. Itzkow perfers to be called Dr. Benji. He is a fun loving eye doctor from Winnipeg, MB and he thrives on helping people see the world clearer. Benji is a fan of kale, fishing and riding vintage bicycles. He couldn’t be prouder to have his own independent optometric practice in the heart of Winnipeg.
Dr. Lam began his career as an X-ray Technologist where his passion for patient care led him to pursue Optometry. He received his Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2017 and returned to Kingston where he was born and raised to serve his local community with eye care. In addition to clinical duties, Dr. Lam enjoys training and working with future optometry students. Dr. Lam strongly believes in helping future clinicians develop clinical knowledge to better serve the public.
Dr Michael York received his Optometry degree from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 1992. He is currently in private practice with FYI doctors – Atrium Optometric Group in Saskatoon, SK where he has been since 1994 with his wife Diane and their three children. Throughout his time in Saskatchewan, Dr York has been actively involved in his provincial optometry Association. He was elected to Council in 2002 and held every available portfolio including SAO president from 2009 to 2011, and continues to serve on a number of Association committees and advisory boards. Dr York was awarded Saskatchewan’s Optometrist of the Year in 2007.
Dr. Harry Bohnsack practices Optometry in Fredericton, NB along with his wife and partner Dr. Paula Steffler. A University of Waterloo graduate, Dr. Bohnsack started his practice in Oakville, ON. He relocated to Fredericton NB where he has practiced for over two decades in a full-scope setting. Dr. Bohnsack has served the NBAO as Media and Public Relations Chair for many years, as NBAO President from 2003-2005, and recently serves on the board as Government Relations Chair and CAO (Canadian Association of Optometrists) Delegate. He has served on the CAO board for eight years and is currently serving as Vice President, having served as chair of both Finance and Research committees and a founding member of the Insurance Industry Working Group. He has been a member of Rotary for 31 years and has served in various capacities including club president. His other interests include tennis, craft beer, music and trivia. He has served on the COETF Board for about one year.
Dr. Joshua Smith has been in private practice in eastern Ontario since 2013, primarily in the rural township of Alexandria. Dr. Smith completed his Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Waterloo in 2013 after completing a M.Sc. at the University of Calgary and a B.Sc.(Hon.) at Mount Allison University. He has a special interest in visual neurorehabilitation, particularly in cases of stroke, working with the stroke rehabilitation unit at the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria. Dr. Smith served on the board of the Ontario Association of Optometrists from 2014-2021, including as President from 2018-2020. He also served for three years as Ontario’s representative on the Council of the Canadian Association from Optometrists and is currently a Trustee of the Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund. Dr. Smith takes a pause each year from practice to serve on medical mission trips abroad, with his seventh mission having been to Ghana in November 2019.
Anne Stacey has been supporting non-profit associations for almost 20 years. Her career started at Chambers of Commerce in both Lindsay, ON and Mission, BC and extended to multiple National non-profit associations over the past several years. Anne built a knowledge around business affairs, supporting members and donors, and developing both communication and marketing strategies. She looks forward to working with COETF Trustees to maximize the positive impact of COETF initiatives.