Eyes on New York - Reframed Journal

Alumnus/a of the Year Award

Dr. Denise M. Whittam, ‘91 2020 Alumna of the year

Dr. Denise Whittam is a 1991 graduate of SUNY College of Optometry. She started working at Cohen’s Fashion Optical on Lexington Avenue in New York City part time while in high school and remains there today as the lead practitioner. Cohen’s Fashion Optical recently presented her with a recognition award for 40 years of service and they have thrice awarded her Doctor of the year. She is also a J&J Professional Affairs Consultant and Ambassador Speaker and Facilitator. In her spare time, Denise has been a tireless advocate for the profession of Optometry for almost three decades. She is the only optometrist who has served as the President of New York State Optometric Association, Optometric Society of the City of New York, the Children’s Vision Coalition and SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Association Board. Among her many honors and awards is NYSOA Optometrist of the Year, 2014. She has published numerous articles and essays in professional publications. During her 26 years as a volunteer serving SUNY College of Optometry on the Alumni Association Board she was a regular presence on campus, sharing her enthusiasm for the profession and supporting all signature student, alumni and fundraising events. She has generously donated to student scholarships, patient care and supported fundraising campaigns. Denise served as the Alumni Association Board President from 2013-2018. Under her leadership she championed the historic merger of the association into the Optometric Center of New York, resulting in unprecedented participation in the alumni community. In her own words: “To be honored and recognized by one’s own colleagues and friends is by far the highest achievement one can attain. I never realized that my experience at SUNY College of Optometry and pursuing the optometric profession would lead to meeting such incredibly bright, inspirational people, who not only became my friends, but also my family. I would be lost without their support and friendship. I am eternally grateful to the faculty of SUNY for passionately sharing their knowledge and clinical skills with me, not only during my four years at SUNY, but ongoing to this day. They have become my mentors, my confidantes, and my friends, who feel like brothers and sisters to me for the rest of my life.” -Denise Whittam

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