Dr. Ed Bennett to Retire as Executive Director of the GP Lens Institute

contributed by Tom Quinn, O.D. M.S., F.A.A.O., F.S.L.S. & adapted from the publication in Contact Lens Spectrum on 6/9/24

After nearly 36 years at the helm, Ed Bennett, O.D., M.S.Ed., F.A.A.O., F.S.L.S. will be retiring from serving as both Executive Director and President of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute (GPLI). Originally formed as the RGPLI in 1984, Dr. Bennett took on the role of Executive Director four years after its inception.

Dr. Bennett has spearheaded numerous innovative programs and resources throughout his tenure. In 1996, the organization began conducting GP Lens Fitting Workshops at schools and colleges of optometry throughout the United States. In 1999, the first RGPLI (now GPLI) Cornea and Contact Lens Resident Symposium was held. This program has served as a launchpad for many of today’s contact lens leaders and continues to be offered each August. Increasing demand has prompted Dr. Bennett and his GPLI team to launch a second symposium scheduled to take place in Glendale, AZ in October of this year.

With the development of the internet, in the year 2000 Dr. Bennett began hosting an online chat, which evolved into today’s popular monthly GPLI webinar series. Under Dr. Bennett’s guidance, the RGPLI was renamed the GPLI in 2003 and in 2019 became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

In 2021 Dr. Bennett began developing several GPLI volunteer committees. These have grown to include nearly a hundred experts in specialty contact lens care in 15 committees who willingly share their knowledge and experience with the GPLI and its audience.

Dr. Bennett is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry and has earned numerous accolades, including induction to both the National Optometry Hall of Fame and AAO Hall of Fame. 

Dr. Bennett plans to step down from his current position by the end of 2024. A search for a new executive director will be forthcoming soon. He is excited about the future of the GPLI:Becoming Director of the GPLI has been – by far – the greatest professional decision I have ever made. Having a passion for GP lenses, this has been a 36-year dream come true. It has been my privilege to work with the leadership of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA), an exceptional Board of Directors, and a prolific and extremely beneficial Advisory Board. Whereas I am at a time in my life where I truly need to decrease my responsibilities, I’m very excited about the future of the GPLI. With the ongoing leadership and dedication provided by Associate Director, Dr. Tom Quinn, and the numerous talents of our Administrative Director Beth Anderzhon, I intend to work with them to help make for a seamless transition for the new Executive Director.”

Current CLMA President Derrell James best summarizes Dr. Bennett’s impact and accomplishments: “Trying to summarize the impact that Ed has had on our entire industry is like trying to count every grain of sand on all the beaches – it simply cannot be done. Every person he has touched through his life as an educator is what he will be remembered for, but the real work has been behind the scenes. It is through countless hours and meetings with GPLI committees and advisory board, universities, content developers, media, and experts in industry, where Ed has truly made the impact. He has championed the work to provide the best possible partnerships with doctors for decades and does so in an impeccable manner. GPLI’s motto is ‘First in Education’, and we will sorely miss Ed’s infectious enthusiasm, drive, and relentless pursuit of excellence. However, the true testament to success is found in the love of his family, friends, and those whose lives he has touched. Like those many grains of sand on the beach, Ed’s inestimable contributions confirm his career has been extraordinarily successful.”