IOT Announces Winner Of Its Optical’s Next Top Speaker Contest

Optical’s Next Top Speaker Minerva Maldonado
Minerva Maldonado

IOT announces the 2022 winner of its Optical’s Next Top Speaker contest. Minerva Maldonado edged out her competitors with a warm and passionate presentation entitled Bright Eyes on the Future of Fashion, Optics, and Vision. The three finalists presented on November 16 via Zoom. Each had 30 minutes to cover their topics and field questions from a panel of four judges.

The contest, sponsored by IOT, encouraged opticians to develop their speaking skills and share knowledge with industry peers. As the winning speaker, Minerva earned mentorship to help her prepare and deliver an ABO-approved course, professional design services for her final presentation, and IOT sponsorship to present the topic at an optician event, which will be announced shortly.

Minerva worked with her mentor, Laurie Pierce, to deliver a fun and informative continuing education course that blended fashion, optical content, and an eye toward helping patients achieve great looks and great vision while juggling today’s visually demanding lifestyle.

Minerva’s tips incorporated references to social media, pop culture, and how to (visually) navigate a world increasingly focused on electronic devices and high fashion.

Runners-up included Kai Rands and Wesley Scott.

Kai’s topic, Beyond Gray: Tints, Truths, and Myths, was thorough and well-researched. Guided by mentor Candace O’Keefe, Kai delivered a perspective that promises to become increasingly relevant: the use of filters to address specific optical conditions while also accommodating individual occupational and recreational preferences.

Wesley’s topic, How Does The Lab Make Customized Eyewear? It Depends, introduced different types of labs and their capabilities. It was a practical guide to help ECPs make informed decisions about how and when to choose specific labs to best meet patient lens requirements. Wes was mentored by Michael Karlsrud.

Determining the contest winner proved a challenging task for the judges, including Barry E. Santini, Certified Master Optician and nationally known optical speaker, writer, blogger, and contributing editor to 20/20 Magazine; Carrie Wilson, MBA, MA, ABOM, owner at Optigal Consulting and adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University; Tina Lahti, vice president of sales and marketing for IOT North America, nationally recognized speaker and contributing editor to Jobson’s Pro to Pro; and Jorae DuPont, MS, journalism and public relations and senior manager of marketing communications at IOT. In the end, however, Minerva captured the judges’ hearts and heads with her charming personality and engaging presentation style.

IOT would like to offer appreciation and congratulations to all the contestants who participated in the inaugural event, as well as the mentors and judges who supplied their time and expertise in support of the contest. A special thank you to IOT’s Barb Malobabich, who managed the details and coordinated the efforts of everyone involved.


Established in Madrid, IOT began offering lens designs in 2005. It has grown to serve more than 400 partners in 69 countries, supporting the production of 35 million lenses annually. With headquarters in Madrid and Los Angeles and a marketing office in Minneapolis, IOT is a world leader in lens technology and innovation.

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