2023 Humanitarian of the Year Awards


In 2014, SEE launched the annual Humanitarian of the Year Award to honor the outstanding dedication and achievement of volunteer ophthalmologists, local optometrists, and partner organizations that are committed to making eyecare more accessible worldwide. Below are the 2023 recipients of this award.   

Dr. Karl Holzinger – Traveling U.S. Ophthalmologist  

Dr. Karl Holzinger began his journey as a humanitarian ophthalmologist with Aloha Medical Mission in 1995, his first two missions being in the Philippines and Bangladesh. After this experience, he learned of similar outreach programs run by the military, which eventually led him to SEE. Between 1996 and 2007, he worked in the Solomon Islands, Maldives, Tonga, Western Samoa, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.  

After he retired from the military, he opened a private practice in 2007, and has since continued his humanitarian work, having now added Namibia, Ghana, India, and Ecuador to the list of countries he’s served.  

Dr. Helena Ndume – International Host Ophthalmologist

Dr. Helena Ndume was inspired to become a humanitarian ophthalmologist after traveling to receive her education and seeing the global need for accessible eyecare. She began volunteering with SEE international over 25 years ago, and has since restored sight to over 50,000 people.

She has dedicated her life to eradicating the epidemic of preventable blindness in Namibia, and has been recognized with many prestigious awards for her overwhelming impact on those in need. These awards include the UN’s Nelson Rolihlahala Mandela Award, the Forbes Woman Africa Social Impact Award, and the Lions Clubs International Humanitarian Award, among others.  

Dr. Jacquelyn O’Banion – Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery Faculty     

Dr. O’Banion is a comprehensive ophthalmologist focusing on resident education and public health approaches to the prevention of blindness. She is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Emory University where she works with the residents at Grady Hospital’s Eye Clinic. She also serves as the Director of Global Ophthalmology Emory (GO-Emory), where she oversees educational research and clinical outreach across Georgia as well as internationally.  

She has worked with numerous international institutions on resident education, national eye care plans, and research initiatives. She is passionate about addressing the social, racial and economic barriers to eye care delivery and is dedicated to the delivery of high-quality eye care to all. 

Dr. Robin Chang – Local Optometrist   

Dr. Robin Chang graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Environmental Biology. She continued on to complete her doctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry in 2016 and has been practicing in the Santa Barbara area since completing her studies.  

Her training has spanned across specialties including contact lens fittings, low vision, pediatrics, binocular vision and primary care treating ocular disease and a large range of eye conditions. 

Dr. Chang provides family eye care for all ages and continues to stay current with the latest evidence-based treatments through regular continuing education courses and training.  

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) – Community Partner  

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has been serving the greater Santa Barbara area for over 52 years, now providing care to one in ten people in the community. Over 18,100 patients are cared for annually at SBNC’s four neighborhood medical clinics, two dental clinics, a bridge clinic for substance use disorders, and health promotion services with Wellness Navigators. Their new mobile medical and dental clinics are taking their services directly out into the community.  

The mission of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC) is to provide high-quality, comprehensive, affordable healthcare to all people, regardless of their ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion and dignity. They’ve been recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home because they meet the highest standards of care. 

We are so grateful to these individuals and partners who share our mission of making eyecare more accessible to those in need! 


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