Meet the 2018-2019 Arkansas Optometric Association Board
President Belinda Starkey, O.D., Diplomate, American Board of Optometry
An optometric physician practicing at Parenti-Morris Eyecare, Belinda Starkey was elected as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association in April 2018. Dr. Starkey was raised in Mountain Home, AR, and was Valedictorian of Norfork High School. She serves on the Industry Relations Committee of the American Optometric Association. Outside of the office she enjoys spending time with family, painting and boating. She is involved in the Dramatic Arts Department at Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas. She and her husband, Clay, and their two dogs live in Rogers.
President-Elect Daniel Hennessey, O.D.
Dan and his wife, Beth, live in Little Rock and have three sons, Daniel and wife Victoria, Jason and Michael. They are also just a wee bit proud of their granddaughter, Lynlee Elizabeth. The family attends St. Edward Catholic Church in Little Rock where Dan serves as deacon. He was ordained to the ministry in 1998.
Vice-President Jeffrey Netzel, O.D.
A native of Northwest Arkansas, Dr. Netzel feels it is important to get involved in his community. He is a current member of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce as well as other service organizations.
Professionally, he is board certified in the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease, a member of the American Optometric Association, and a member of the Arkansas Optometric Association. He is currently serving on the board as secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas Optometric Association. He serves as the secretary/treasurer for the AOP-PAC and as chair of the membership committee.
Dr. Netzel resides in Springdale with his wife Jill and his three children, Kate, Caroline, and Will.
Secretary/Treasurer Joe Sugg, O.D., Diplomate, American Board of Optometry
Dr. Joe Sugg serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas Optometric Association. Dr. Sugg’s involvement in the association includes serving as the AOP-PAC Chair, and as a member of the nominating, membership, and state legal legislative committees. Dr. Sugg received the 2013 Young OD of the Year Award from the Arkansas Optometric Association. He participates in the Brandon Burlsworth Eyes of a Champion program and also helps provide eye exams at the Arkansas Special Olympics. In 2015, Dr. Sugg and his staff received a Practice of Excellence Award presented by the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at Southern College of Optometry. Dr. Sugg serves on the exhibits committee at SECO International.
Dr. Sugg and his wife, Ali, have two children, Spencer and Sydney.
Immediate Past President Matthew E. Jones, O.D., Diplomate, American Board of Optometry
Dr. Matthew Jones serves as the Immediate Past President of the Arkansas Optometric Association. In June 2018, he was named the American Optometric Association Young Optometrist of the Year. No surprise to Arkansas, as in March 2017, Dr. Jones was recognized as the Young Optometrist of the South by SECO International and in 2012, Dr. Jones received the Arkansas Young Optometrist of the Year Award.
Dr. Matthew Jones received his undergraduate degree from the University of Evansville in 2005 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. From there, he attended the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN graduating with honors in 2009.
In the community, Dr. Jones is a member of the Blytheville Rotary Club where he previously served as treasurer. He now serves as chairman of the Blytheville Rotary Foundation. He is the secretary/treasurer of the Great River Charitable Clinic board of directors where he provides free eye care services and materials for the under-served.
Dr. Jones practices in Blytheville and Osceola. He and his wife, Allison, and daughter, Sutton, live in Blytheville.
Melia Robertson, O.D., Director
Dr. Robertson became active in the Arkansas Optometric Association as a student at SCO and served as Arkansas Optometric Student Association President. She serves as chair of the Awards committee, on the Career Guidance Committee, the nominating committee and the convention committee.
Dr. Robertson was awarded the 2016 Young O.D. of the Year by the Arkansas Optometric Association.
Dr. Robertson provides eye exams to children through the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation and volunteers time and services at the River Valley Christian Clinic. She and her family attend Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Russellville where her husband serves as a deacon. Dr. Robertson is married to Justin, a certified public accountant, and they reside in Russellville with their two children, Emmarie and Evan.
James Hertzog, O.D., Director
Dr. Hertzog is the owner and optometric physician of Hertzog Family Eye Care in Cabot and Jacksonville. He graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, and the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. He is a Past President of the Cabot Lions Club and a past Board Member of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce. He is the ArOA Vision Consultant to Medicaid. Dr. Hertzog gives his time to Optometry by promoting public awareness through health fairs, social media and eye screenings with the Lions Club.
Other accomplishments and awards include: Arkansas Democrat –Gazette’s “20 to Watch in 2013”; the Arkansas Optometric Association Young Optometrist of the Year in 2011; voted Best Practice/Optometrist by the Lonoke County Reader’s Choice several years running; the 2013 Cabot Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year; the 2014 ArOA Special Service award; and 2014 Cabot Panther Foundation's Hall of Fame.
Of all of his accomplishments he is most proud to be the loving husband to Dr. Charity Hertzog and father to his three sons, Jacob, Jonah, and Isaac.
Alex Bell, O.D., Director
A native of Rogers, Arkansas, Dr. Bell received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Bell went on to graduate Cum Laude from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. He completed extensive training in ocular surgery co-management, glaucoma diagnosis/management, and contact lens and joined Parenti-Morris Eye Care in 2009. Dr. Bell joined the board in 2017. He serves as the convention committee chair
In the community, he is past-chair of the Wheelchair committee for local Rotary Club, and leads community group and serve for children’s classes at Fellowship Bible Church.
“I believe in the mission and vision of optometry in this state, and I believe our Doctors do remarkable things for the people of Arkansas. I want to serve in any capacity that is asked of me to move our profession forward,” said Dr. Bell.He is married to Lauren and has three children: Rooney, Grey, and Marshall.
Russell Simmons, O.D. Director
Dr. Simmons is in private practice in his hometown of Benton. He joined the Arkansas Optometric Association Board in 2017. He has chaired the Nominating and Awards Committees and served on the board in the past. He currently chairs the Career Guidance Committee. He received the Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and assisted in creating the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an avid supporter of Optometry Giving Sight.
Rusty and his wife, Karol, have three children, Bradley, Will and Brynne. They attend First Baptist Church in Benton and in his free time he enjoys fishing and finding new restaurants.
Katie Brown, O.D. Director
Dr. Katie Brown was elected as director of the Arkansas Optometric Association in 2018. She graduated from Southern College of Optometry in 2012 and found her home in academics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, as Assistant Professor of the College of Medicine in the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Brown was named the 2018 ArOA Young Optometrist of the Year and has been awarded the 5 Star Medical Student Teaching Award from the UAMS College of Medicine in 2016.
Dr. Brown enjoys community service and is the Little Rock Shepherd’s Hope Free Eye Clinic Coordinator and assisted in scheduling and volunteering on MLK Day 2018 in the first event for ROOTS (Rural Ophthalmology Optometry Treatment and Screening), a non-profit organization formed by a first year UAMS medical students under her mentorship.
She serves as the Young Advocate Committee Chair on the Membership committee, the convention committee, and awards committee.
Julie Dolven, O.D. Director
Dr. Julie M. Dolven was elected to the Arkansas Optometric Association board of directors in 2018. Dr. Dolven is originally from Gosnell, a small town in Northeastern Arkansas. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and graduated Cum Laude from Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dr. Dolven is the owner and Optometric Physician at James Eyecare & Optics Gallery in West Little Rock. Dr. Dolven is on the convention and membership committees and acts as the chair of the JC Beane golf tournament and co-chair of the mentor program.
Outside of the office Dr Dolven enjoys spending time with her husband, Mark, and two daughters, Abby and Elizabeth. She is also an active member of New Life Church, and spends her time volunteering for Make-a Wish as a wish granter and providing eye exams for the women of the Dorcas house.
Chevron Ergle, O.D.
Dr. Chevron Ergle serves as the past president advisor to the Arkansas Optometric Association Board of Directors.
Click here for a list of past ArOA Presidents
At the Arkansas Optometric Association, our staff is dedicated to our members. We take pride in our personalized service and strive to provide every member with positive experiences.
Executive Director: Vicki Farmer, IOM, CAE
Executive Assistant: Debbie Henley
1401 W. Capitol, Ste 247
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201