Meet the ArOA Board of Directors

Meet the 2019-2020 Arkansas Optometric Association Board



Daniel Hennessey, O.D.


Dr. Hennessey was elected as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association on April  27, 2019.  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.


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.


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. 


Melia Robertson, O.D.


Dr. Robertson was elected to the ArOA Board of Directors on April 24, 2015.  Dr. Robertson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR in 2006 where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  She graduated from SCO in 2010 Magna Cum Laude with Beta Sigma Kappa Honors. She opened a private practice the following year in Russellville.  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.  

Immediate Past President  

Belinda Starkey, O.D., Diplomate, American Board of Optometry


An optometric physician practicing at Parenti-Morris Eyecare, Belinda Starkey served as President of the Arkansas Optometric Association 2018-2019.  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. 

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


In the community, Dr. Bell  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.  

Eric Robbins, O.D. Director


Dr. Eric Robbins practices at the Arkansas Eye Care Group in Conway.  Dr. Robbins was raised in Fayetteville, graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 1996 with a degree in Biology, and graduated from Southern College of Optometry in 2001.  He has been a partner with Arkansas Eye Care Group since 2005. Dr. Robbins and his wife, Holly,  have two sons, Luke and Zack. He enjoys his time off with his family by hunting, attending church at Second Baptist of Conway, and volunteers as a den leader for Cub Scouts. Dr. Robbins served as chair of continuing education for several years and has served on many association committees throughout his career.


Click here for a list of past ArOA Presidents

ArOA Staff

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 

Phone: 501-661-7675

Fax: 501-372-0233

1401 W. Capitol, Ste 247

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201



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