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Winter 2021



Elizabeth Grantner

ICO is proud to honor and recognize our 2021 ICO Alumni Association Award recipients. The criteria for each award involves one or more of the following attributes:


  • Service and leadership on the ICO Alumni Council

  • Extensive leadership, support, and service to the College and the optometric profession

  • Excellence as a faculty member and scholarly contributions to the profession

  • Humanitarian efforts in the recipient's home state, country and abroad

  • Accomplished career and outstanding commitment and dedication to the College and to the profession

We appreciate the many ways our alumni and friends have represented and supported the College, the community, and the profession. Congratulations to our 2021 awardees!


Lifetime Service Award


Sandra S. Block, OD ’81, MEd, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD, FNAP is a Professor Emeritus at Illinois College of Optometry, Global Clinical Advisor and consultant to the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program, and co-chair of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. Dr. Block received her OD degree (1981) and Pediatric Residency (1982) at the Illinois College of Optometry where she is a faculty member. She completed her Master of Education at National Louis University and her Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois, School of Public Health. She is a Diplomate in Public Health and Environmental Vision at the American Academy of Optometry and a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Practice. She sits on the Prevent Blindness Board of Trustees and has recently joined the VISION 2020 USA Board of Directors. 

She has been a consultant to the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program since 1995 and has been instrumental in developing the vision program globally.  Her interests lie in primary care for children and persons with disabilities, as well as diagnosis and treatment of visually related learning problems as well as public health issues facing the equity and quality of eye care delivery.

Dr. Block has authored numerous publications and conducted presentations worldwide. She is currently President-Elect of the World Council of Optometry and is past co-chair of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. 


Alumnus of the Year Award

Nicholas Colatrella, OD ’96 is the medical director and owner of PineCone Vision Center in Sartell and St Cloud, MN.  Dr. Colatrella received his Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, and his Doctor of Optometry with honors from the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.  He completed his residency in ocular disease at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and a mini fellowship in Cornea at Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons.  

Dr. Colatrella is a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, past Chair of its disease section, and a founding chair of the Anterior Segment Section.  He was the first of two Diplomates in Anterior Segment Disease of the American Academy of Optometry.  He is a member of the American Optometric Association, Past President of the Minnesota Optometric Association, and currently serves on the AOA Third Party Committee.  He has been published several times and lectures nationally on various topics including OSD, dry eye, cataract surgery, pharmacology, corneal diseases, and LASIK.  He is an adjunct professor for several Colleges of Optometry, and routinely mentors optometry student externs, and currently serves on the AOA Third Party Committee. He has also served on the Alumni Council and is a former Alumni Council president.  

Other Award Winners

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Young Alumnus of the Year Award
Tommy Elton, OD '11
Edina, MN


Humanitarian Award
Michael Ciszek, OD '93
Chicago, IL

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Distinguished Friend Award
Seenu Hariprasad, MD
Chicago, IL

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Excellence in Education Award
Joseph McCray, OD '75
Chicago, IL

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Professional Achievement Award
Muriel Schornack, OD '98
Rochester, MN

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Golden Gavel Award
Jeanette Varanelli, OD '97
Grosse Pointe Shores, MI

How to Nominate Someone


Award Nomination Process
January – March (annually)


Submit your award nomination as follows:

  • Send an email to the ICO Alumni Office at

  • Include the name of the person you are nominating, the name of the award, and documentation supporting your nomination.


All nominations are compiled by the Alumni Office staff and are presented to the ICO Alumni Council for deliberation during their annual spring meeting.  Successful candidates are contacted by the President of the Alumni Council, and award presentations are made during ICO's homecoming in the fall of each year.

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