Florida Grand Opera (FGO) has elected Linda Balent, MD, as chair of its board of directors. Dr. Balent is serving a two-year term effective June 1.
“As a physician, I know that opera is medicine that goes to parts of the body that nothing else can reach,” Dr. Balent said. “I am so honored to be part of Florida Grand Opera.”
Susan T. Danis, FGO general director and CEO, added, “We are honored to have Dr. Linda Balent as our new chair; she’s been a huge supporter of FGO for decades.”
Dr. Balent, a distinguished eye surgeon, now retired, has been involved with Florida Grand Opera since 1983. In addition, Dr. Balent supports and appreciates many other organizations that make the South Florida community so exciting and diverse.
A graduate of Vassar College, Dr. Balent received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biochemistry in four years. She received her MD from Albany Medical College where she was elected to the medical honor society (Alpha Omega Alpha). After her internship at Harvard and an ophthalmology residency at Boston University, Dr. Balent relocated to Fort Lauderdale in 1982, becoming the first woman surgeon on many local hospital staffs.
Dr. Balent built the first Medicare-licensed in-office surgery center in Broward County, the Eye Care and Surgery Center of Fort Lauderdale. In 1990, she embarked on the first of 11 trips to India to perform and teach eye surgery. She was invited repeatedly to teach modern sutureless cataract surgery at Aravind Eye Care Systems, which has become the largest eye hospital in the world. The 2003 trip included surgery in Cambodia, and in 2006, surgery and teaching in Tibet.
Dr. Balent has received the Humanitarian Award from the Albany Medical College Alumni Association, and the Chairman’s Recognition Award from the Florida Board of Medicine to “exemplary Florida licensed medical physicians, for outstanding contributions to the medical profession and a decade of providing medical care and medical training to the underserved.”
Dr. Balent is a past president of FGO’s Opera Society (2005-07) and previously served as board secretary of FGO. She represented the Opera Society at the 1000+ Club of the American Cancer Society Women of the Year 2005 and was named a Woman of Style and Substance by the Florida Philharmonic Society. She served as president of the Friends of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale (2012-14). She also served on the advisory board of the Friends of the Uffizi.
Dr. Balent resides in Fort Lauderdale with her husband, Dr. Alvan Balent. They have two sons — Alvan Jr., a graduate of Vassar College and FSU College of Law, serves as assistant general counsel for the Eleventh Circuit in Miami, and Zack, a graduate of West Point, currently studying at MIT for a master’s degree in civil engineering and business.