TORRANCE, Calif.—IOT, the digital ophthalmic lens design company, is sponsoring a contest to discover and support “Optical’s Next Top Speaker.” The contest, which runs through the end of June, is described by the company as, “an exciting opportunity for one lucky (and talented) optician to lead the next generation of ABO-approved continuing education speakers.” Aspiring optical industry speakers will compete to win sponsorship of their ABO-accredited continuing education course. Well-known optical industry speakers will mentor top contestants as they work to write, develop, and present their continuing education ideas to a panel of judges, according to IOT.

“We’re looking for opticians with a desire to share their unique perspective,” said Barry Santini, one of four judges who will determine the winning speaker. He is a nationally known optical speaker, writer, blogger and contributing editor to 20/20 Magazine. With four decades of experience, Santini, who owns Long Island Opticians, is an expert on dispensing, fabrication, optics, rimless processing, as well as optical business and practice management.

The other judges are:

  • Tina Lahti, vice president of sales and marketing for IOT North America. She has been an ABO-certified optician since 1991 and an ABO-approved speaker since 1998.

  • Marcos Garcia, vice president of technology development at IOT. He has been with the company for more than 10 years and holds a master’s degree in optics, optometry and vision from Complutense University of Madrid.

  • Carrie Wilson, MBA, MA, ABOM, owner at Optigal Consulting and adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. She brings 20 years of industry experience to ophthalmic training. Wilson has worked with thousands of opticians in a variety of settings from small, luxury boutiques to multi-facility corporations.
Optical’s Next Top Speaker is open to all ABO-certified or state-licensed opticians. IOT will support the winner by providing ABO course and speaker approval, creating a professionally designed presentation deck and sponsoring the winner’s first presentation or event as an optical industry educator.

Participants enter the contest by submitting content ideas to IOT. The top five submissions will advance to the semifinals. Semifinalists will then present their ideas to three industry mentors:

Each mentor chooses one candidate to be coach and support. Three finalists present their content to an expert panel of judges who determine the winning speaker. Eligibility is limited to current ABO certified or state licensed opticians.

Applications can be submitted to The deadline for applications is June 30.