Meet the Doctors & Staff

Doctors & Staff

Meet the experienced and friendly doctors and staff who make Tullahoma Vision Associates the leading provider of eye and vision care services in Tullahoma.

J. Shawn McBride, O.D.

J. SHAWN MCBRIDE, O.D.

Dr. Shawn McBride is the owner of Tullahoma Vision Associates. He joined the practice after graduating summa cum laude from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, where he was salutatorian of the Class of 1992. He became the owner of the practice in 1996. Dr. McBride is therapeutically certified in the treatment and management of ocular disease and is a member of the American Optometric Association (Contact Lens and Cornea Section member), Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control, Scleral Lens Education Society, and Ocular Surface Society of Optometry. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Tennessee Optometric Physicians and a Past-President of the South Central Tennessee Optometric Society. Dr. McBride particularly enjoys working in several specialty areas, including dry eye treatment, bifocal and other special-design contact lenses, orthokeratology/Corneal Refractive Therapy, and laser vision correction pre- and post-operative care. He has also been a clinical investigator for Bausch & Lomb and Menicon contact lens products.

A native of Tullahoma and 1983 graduate of Tullahoma High School, Dr. McBride received his Associate of Science degree from Motlow State Community College in 1986. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he majored in biology. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988 after compiling a perfect 4.0 grade-point average at UT. While in optometry school, Dr. McBride was a teaching assistant in the anatomy and histology labs and a member of Beta Sigma Kappa Optometric honor fraternity. Among his accomplishments during his training was earning the highest score in the nation on the National Board exam.
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Dr. McBride is an active member and Past-President of the Tullahoma Sunrise Rotary Club. A percussionist since sixth grade, Dr. McBride was a member of the World Champion Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps of Rockford, Illinois in 1984 and 1986, and he was an instructor for the corps in 1987. He very much remains a drum corps enthusiast and regularly attends competitions in the summertime. Also known as the “Drum Doctor” in marching percussion circles, he has enjoyed working with several high school band programs over the years.

Beyond his varied music interests, Dr. McBride’s hobbies include audio recording, video production, and home theater. He is also an avid sports fan and closely follows the University of Tennessee athletics. Dr. McBride is a member of First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma where he plays percussion in the instrumental ensemble and is in charge of sound for the 11:00 am worship service.

James H. Blanks, O.D.

JAMES H. BLANKS, O.D.

Dr. James H. “Jimmy” Blanks joined Tullahoma Vision Associates in June 2017. Dr. Blanks is a native of Tullahoma and the son of Jim Blanks and the late Janice Blanks. He graduated from Tullahoma High School in 1981 and continued his education at David Lipscomb University in Nashville. Dr. Blanks received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis in 1987. While at Southern College of Optometry, he was elected vice-president of his senior class and was a member of Beta Sigma Kappa honor fraternity.


Dr. Blanks began his practice of optometry in McMinnville in 1987. He relocated back home to Tullahoma in 1991, practicing at the Eye Care Center for 26 years until joining Tullahoma Vision Associates. He is a member of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians and a Past-President of the South Central Tennessee Optometric Society.


Dr. Blanks is married to June-Ellen, a native of McMinnville. They have one son, Dean, who is a graduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee. He has been heavily involved with competitive swimming for many years and is a Past-President of the Tullahoma Swim Club. Since 2009 Dr. Blanks has served as an alderman for the City of Tullahoma. In this role, he is the liaison for the city for the Tullahoma Housing Authority and chairs the Policy Committee. In addition, he is a board member of the Duck River Utility Commission, the Tullahoma Arts Council and the Tullahoma Industrial Board. Dr. Blanks is also an active member of the Church of Christ at Cedar Lane.


While not performing civic commitments, Dr. Blanks enjoys gardening, hunting and fishing, and travel with his family.

Susan Amelang, L.D.O

SUSAN AMELANG, L.D.O.

Susan Amelang began her employment with Tullahoma Vision Associates in August 1977. She received her Tennessee Dispensing Optician’s license in May 1980 and is a member of the Tennessee Dispensing Opticians Association. She enjoys her time spent in all facets of her job which include frame styling, repairs and adjustments, patient relations, frame board management and various other office duties when needed.


Susan is married and has two children. She is an avid reader and enjoys square dancing, traveling and spending time with her four grandchildren. She and her husband are active members of the First Christian Church of Tullahoma.

Melissa Porter, L.D.O

MELISSA PORTER, L.D.O.

A native of Alabama, Melissa, and her family moved to Tennessee in 1983. She began working for Tullahoma Vision Associates in June 1988 as the contact lens assistant. After several years Melissa became a member of the Tennessee Dispensing Opticians Association and began the apprenticeship program for both contact lens fitting and dispensing opticians. In January 1999 she received her Tennessee State license and national certification.


Melissa’s main responsibility is in the contact lens room where she assists the doctors with contact lens patients. Patient instruction on insertion and removal of contacts and lens care products also make up a big part of Melissa’s day. She also assists patients with frame styling and discusses lens products that best serve visual needs and lifestyle requirements.

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Melissa enjoys motorcycle trips with her husband Don and spending time with her family.

Penny Owens

PENNY OWENS

Penny Owens has been with Tullahoma Vision Associates since 1991. Penny is the office manager and insurance coordinator. She also helps with patient check-in and check-out as well as assists the doctors in performing specialized tests.

Penny lives in Moore County with her husband, Joe. She enjoys motorcycling with her husband and spending time with her family.

Allison Arnold

ALLISON ARNOLD

Allison Arnold re-joined our staff in December 2002 as an optician. However, she worked in the practice in the early ’80s before leaving to raise her children. In addition to operating our lens finishing lab, her duties include frame styling and helping patients with various lens options, repairs, and adjustments. She also assists with contact lens fittings and instructs patients on insertion, removal, and care of lenses.


Allison resides in Estill Springs. In her time away from the office she enjoys traveling, reading, arts and crafts, and spending time with her sons Derek and Matthew.

Tia Francfort

TIA FRANCFORT

Tia has been with Tullahoma Vision Associates since February 2011. Tia is an apprentice optician where she helps patients with frame styling and lens selection. She also helps coordinate eyewear orders as well as dispensing, adjustment and repair of eyewear. Her previous position was patient check-out, which gives Tia a thorough knowledge of insurance and vision plan benefits.

Tia married her long-time boyfriend Garrett Francfort on June 30, 2018. They are expecting their first child in May.

Joseph Niblett

JOSEPH NIBLETT

Joe joined our staff in February 2017 and serves as the director of patient experience. He helps patients with the check-in process and makes them feel right at home in our patient lounge. He also assists patients on the phone and coordinates appointments.

Joe is originally from southern California and moved to Tennessee in 2016 to be closer to his fiancé’s family. He graduated from Cal State Northridge in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in art. He has spent many years as a high school librarian and teacher’s aide.

Being part Hawaiian, family is important to Joe. He and his wife Eileen were married in August 2017 and enjoy living in middle Tennessee. He also enjoys movies, television, art, and music, and is a long-time Batman aficionado. Joe closely follows the USC Trojans, the Oakland Raiders, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”

Jillian Dickens, CPO

JILLIAN DICKENS, CPO

Jillian joined our staff in May 2017 as an optometric assistant. She became a certified paraoptometric in 2018 and is currently studying as an apprentice optician. Her primary role now is in the contact lens department where she assists the doctors in the lens fitting process; trains patients in insertion, removal and lens care; places and keeps track of lens orders; and assists patients with vision plan benefits and product rebates. She also performs specialized diagnostic testing with patients.

Jillian was born and raised in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. She moved to Tullahoma in 2014 where she lives with her husband Alex and two dogs, Maggie and Penny. In her free time, she enjoys watching Alex race dirt bikes, reading, and playing with her dogs. She recently gave birth to their first child, Ellie.

Amber Thomas, CPO

AMBER THOMAS, CPOA

In June 2017, Amber joined our team as an optometric assistant where she assists our patients in the exam process. In addition to performing preliminary testing and documenting case history, Amber helps our patients feel at ease and comfortable. She also performs advanced diagnostic testing with several high-tech instruments within our office. She received her paraoptometric certification in 2018 and earned the certified paraoptometric assistant designation in 2019.

Amber was born and raised in Lynchburg and now lives on a farm in Wartrace with her husband (Jake) and daughter (Kennedy). She enjoys caring for the farm animals and spending time with her family and friends. Amber gets her greatest fulfillment in raising her daughter around so much love and happiness.

Christina Wilhoite, CMA

CHRISTINA WILHOITE, CMA

Christina joined our staff In June 2018. She assists patients with the check-out process and helps coordinate their future care. Christina has a medical background, having studied at the Medical Response Institute and is a Certified Medical Assistant. Prior to joining our team, she worked with Dr. Marcus Lee at Universal Family Care.

Christina was born and raised in Franklin County. She enjoys music, art, and spending time outdoors - especially with family and six-year-old son Cayden.

Ashley Sanders

ASHLEY SANDERS

Ashley joined our team in January 2019. An assistant in the optical department, she helps patients find the perfect frame, manages orders and verifies their accuracy, and keeps our inventory organized. In addition, Ashley is a certified billing and coding specialist and often helps patients with the check-out process.

A native of Tullahoma, Ashley, and her family recently moved back to Tennessee following her husband’s nine years of service in the U.S. Navy. She worked as a certified pharmacy technician for seven years before taking a break to raise her daughter Sophie. Ashley is also the daughter of Ann Whittington, who was an optometric technician in our practice for nineteen years. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with family.

Dionne Simmons

DIONNE SIMMONS

Dionne joined our team in April 2019 as an optometric technician. She begins the exam process with our patients and performs special testing that gives the doctors important information about their eyes and overall health. One aspect of her role that she especially enjoys is getting to meet and know many different people.

Dionne has a daughter and loves spending time with her family. She relishes a good Philly cheesesteak and enjoys reading, writing and laughing!

“The only limitations you have are those you impose on yourself.” - Yusef Hakeem

Amanda Keele

AMANDA HEMPHILL

Bio coming soon.

Haley Sons

HALEY SONS

Bio coming soon.

Leigh Ann Garner

LEIGH ANN GARNER

Leigh Ann joined our work family in September 2019. She has a business degree from Middle Tennessee State University and was an optometric technician in Winchester for seven years prior to joining us. Leigh Ann enjoys growing with new challenges and now helps our patients with their optical needs in our eyewear gallery. She intends to complete the requirements to become a licensed optician in the near future.

​​​​​​​Leigh Ann loves spending time with her husband and two sons and listening to them play and sing. She is an active member of her church and enjoys cooking and crafting.

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