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SECO Announces 2021 Award Winners

SECO recognizes leaders in optometry and their significant contributions to the profession.




(PRESS RELEASE) ATLANTA, GA — SECO International, the world’s leading annual conference providing ophthalmic professionals with outstanding educational opportunities since 1923, announces the recipients of its 2021 awards. SECO recognizes the following leaders in optometry and their significant contributions to the profession.

“It is the continuous contributions of knowledge, leadership, advocacy, and service that is the foundation of our profession,” said Dr. Max Raynor, President of SECO International, LLC. “SECO celebrates those that are going above and beyond in their efforts to serve. SECO leadership wants to thank James Sandefur, OD, Lauren Stirling, OD, Andrew Cook, OD, and Caydie George, CPOT, for their personal and professional contributions.”

SECO Announces 2021 Award Winners

From Left: James Sandefur | Lauren Stirling | Caydie George | Andrew Cook

James Sandefur, OD
Southern Council of Optometrists’ Optometrist of the South Award

The 2021 Optometrist of the South Award will be presented to James Sandefur, OD of Oakdale, Louisiana. Dr. Sandefur is being recognized for his outstanding work in the community and profession for over 50 years. In private practice for the majority of his career, Dr. Sandefur continues to serve the optometric community as Executive Director of the Optometry Association of Louisiana, 1997-present. Dr. Sandefur is widely recognized and respected by his peers for his extraordinary career, leadership in professional associations and numerous contributions, as evidenced by receiving the SCO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, and being named Louisiana’s Optometrist of the Year in 1993 and 2014. In his honor, the OAL Board created the Dr. James D. Sandefur Distinguished Service award, which he was awarded for his many years of outstanding service and earned the moniker “The Father of Louisiana Optometry.” Because of his tireless service on local, state and national levels, it is impossible to overstate the impact that Dr. Sandefur has had on the profession of Optometry and the public. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is the immeasurable influence he’s had by selflessly mentoring students and Doctors of Optometry across the country and abroad.

Lauren Stirling, OD
Southern Council of Optometrists’ Young Optometrist of the South Award


The 2021 Young Optometrist of the South Award will be presented to Lauren Stirling, OD, of Florence, Alabama. Dr. Stirling is currently in private practice at the Campbell Vision Center in Russellville, Alabama. Before completing her residency at the VA Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June 2012, Dr. Stirling obtained her OD degree from University of Alabama School of Optometry in 2011, after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Southeastern Louisiana University in 2007. During her time in optometry school, she was a Beta Sigma Kappa member, received the Wal-Mart Scholarship, the New Orleans Contact Lens Society Scholarship, and won the Jess Boyd Eskridge Clinical Excellence Award. Dr. Stirling has reviewed three pieces of professional development literature and has been a presenter and author of numerous academic presentations and publications. Dr. Stirling is a board member for the Alabama Board of Optometric Scholarship Awards, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and became Board Certified by the American Board of Optometry in 2012. Dr. Laura Stirling was named the Alabama Optometric Association (ALOA) Young Optometrist of the Year in 2020, and currently serves as an ALOA Board Member.

Caydie George, CPOT
Southern Council of Optometrists’ Paraoptometric of the South Award

The 2021 Paraoptometric of the South Award will be presented to Mrs. Caydie George of Tupelo, Mississippi. Currently working for four optometrists and three ophthalmologists, she has been in the optometry/ophthalmology field for 21 years, completing her CPOT in 2007 and her COA in 2009. Never one to stop learning, she is currently studying for her COT. Mrs. George trains new hires, and her skills include team leadership, scheduling, MIPS reporting, and comprehensive patient workup. Outside of business hours, Mrs. George is fiercely passionate about children’s eyesight, regularly visiting classrooms to talk about the anatomy of the eyes and how to maintain healthy vision. She also enjoys volunteering with elderly and handicapped to assist with their unique vision issues. Mrs. George looks forward to the opportunity to realize her dreams and participate in a mission trip to offer eye exams in underprivileged areas.

Andrew G. Cook, OD
Southern Council of Optometrists’ President’s Award

The Southern Council of Optometrists is pleased to honor Andrew G. Cook, OD, of Garner, North Carolina, with the 2021 President’s Award in recognition of his dedicated years and outstanding advancements to the profession of optometry. Dr. Cook received his Doctor of Optometry degree with honors from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, before founding his private practice in Garner, which he owned for 33 years. Currently Dr. Cook serves as Optometrist and Clinical Affairs Liaison at MyEyeDr. He previously served as President of the Southern Council of Optometrists, the North Carolina State Board of Optometry, and the North Carolina State Optometric Society. Among many other distinguished service awards, he was recognized as the North Carolina State Optometric Society Optometrist of the Year in 2008. Dr. Cook’s involvement and service to numerous organizations within the profession as well as his local community demonstrates his commitment to the growth of optometry.

These optometry experts are recognized for their commitment to the profession and their exceptional skills. SECO congratulates the 2021 award recipients.



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