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Tom Evnen, Executive Director

Swarthmore College, BA

University of Chicago, MA

Tom debated for four years for Lincoln Southeast High School in Nebraska. Tom twice cleared to elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions. His senior year, he was a state champion and finalist at the TOC. Tom has coached debate at the Hockaday School (TX), University School (FL), Oxbridge Academy (FL), and La Jolla (CA). Tom’s students have cleared to elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions thirteen times, including four quarterfinalists and two semifinalists. Tom has also coached two students to championships and one to finals at NFL/NSDA Nationals. In addition, Tom’s students have reached finals or won championships at Apple Valley, Blake, Bronx, the Bronx round robin, Emory, Greenhill, the Greenhill round robin, Harvard, Stanford, Valley, and Yale.

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Becca Traber, Associate Director

Reed College, BA

Yale University Ph.D. Candidate

Becca is a coach for Lake Highland Prep as well for several independent students. As a debater for the Kinkaid School, she earned eleven career TOC bids, won Berkeley and was a finalist at TFA state tournament and the TOC. As a coach, she has coached 14 students to the TOC and 4 students to TOC outrounds. Her students have also excelled at local and regional competitions, winning two Florida State Championships and qualifying every year to both CFL Nationals and NSDA Nationals. She has taught a total of 10 top labs at TDC, NDF, and NSD.  She has served as a board member and Director of Faculty Development at the Texas Debate Collective, a nonprofit debate institute committed to rectifying inequities in access to debate. Outside of debate, Becca is a PhD candidate at Yale University in political science, specializing in political theory. This will be her third summer with NSD.

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Benjamin Koh

New York University, BA'17

Columbia University, MA'19

Benjamin Koh debated at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and qualified to the TOC and NSDA Nationals. He was the Head LD Coach at Byram Hills High School for three years, coaching finalists at Scarsdale, Yale, the Penn Round Robin, and TOC as well as championships at Walt Whitman, the Ohio State Tournament, and NCFL Nationals. He has coached 5 TOC outround appearances and 13 TOC qualifications. Now a MA candidate in American Studies in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, Ben is doing his academic work in the intersection of Asian-American Studies and Disability Studies. He is also on the planning committee for the Texas Debate Collective and is Director of NSD Philadelphia. 

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Chris Castillo

University of Houston, BA

Chris has been the Head LD Coach at Strake Jesuit in Houston, TX for 9 years. He has coached champions at Grapevine, UT Austin, Greenhill, Victory Briefs (now Harvard-Westlake), Bronx Science, and Berkeley. He has coached students to finals at every TOC bid tournament in Texas along with at least semifinalists at 8 different TOC Octafinal bids. Chris has worked for 16 years as a coach, judge, tournament director, and institute director. Chris was awarded the Bronx Achievement Award for his contributions to the debate community, and has recently coached the champions of St. Mark's in Dallas, TX, and the UT Austin Tournament. 

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Grant Brown

Millard North High School, NE, '17

Swarthmore College, PA, '21

Grant Brown debated for Millard North High School in Omaha, Nebraska. He accumulated twelve career bids, reaching elimination rounds at Dowling, Iowa Caucus, Valley, Harvard, The Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, and Blake. He qualified thrice to the Tournament of Champions, clearing twice and reaching semifinals his senior year. He also cleared twice to elimination rounds at the NSDA National Tournament. Grant is currently an Assistant Coach at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida and coaches a variety of individual debaters. His students have closed out Valley, championed Bronx and Dowling, and have reached late elimination rounds of Yale, the Valley RR, Apple Valley, the Glenbrooks, Lexington, the University of Texas, the University of Houston, Blue Key, and Strake Jesuit, acquiring a total of 22 bids this year. He is currently studying Religion and Philosophy at Swarthmore College.

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Dino De La O

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, TX, '16

UT Austin, TX, '20

Dino De La O debated for four years at Law Magnet in Dallas and graduated in 2016. As a competitor, he qualified to the TOC his junior and senior years. During his senior year, he received 7 bids and advanced to the elimination rounds of every tournament he attended. As a coach, his students have championed Columbia, Lexington, the LHP RR, the Sunvitational, the Valley RR, Yale, and have cleared at the TOC. His students have also received 28 bids to the TOC this season.


Zoe Ewing

Scarsdale High School, NY, '17

Columbia University, NY, '21

Zoë is excited to be returning to NSD for her fifth summer and second year teaching! So far this season, she has coached debaters who have won and reached elimination rounds at several major bid tournaments. As a debater for Scarsdale High School, she qualified twice to the TOC, reached TOC elims her senior year, and received 9 career bids. She reached finals of the New York City Invitational, Princeton (twice), Columbia, the Valley Round Robin, and the Hockaday Round Robin. She now attends Columbia University and is interested in philosophy, sociology, and political science. I love being a part of NSD because of the tight-knit community the camp provides, the highly qualified instructors that teach students of every level, and the atmosphere of rigorous scholarship.

Katherine Fennell

Stuyvesant High School, NY, '17

UC Berkeley, CA, '21

Katherine debated for Stuyvesant High School from 2013-2017, and served as the team’s novice director and captain during her junior and senior year. She advanced to elimination rounds at virtually every tournament she attended her junior and senior year, including reaching quarters of Harvard, semis of Glenbrooks, finals at the New York State Championships and championing the Byram Hills Round Robin. Katherine taught at NSD and TDC last summer, and now works as a coach for Debate Drills.


Crayton Gerst

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, TX, '16

University of Houston, TX, '20

My name is Crayton Gerst and I am sophomore student at the University of Houston studying Media Production and African American Studies. In high school I debated for the Law Magnet a public school in The Dallas Independent School District with no real history of success in debate. Under the coaching of Kristopher Wright my partner and I became the first team in the district to ever attended the Tournament of Champions. We went on to become 3x qualifiers to TFA State, 2016 TFA State Champions, 2x qualifier to the TOC, TOC Octo-finalist, and numerous top speaker awards. The opportunity to come and teach at the National Debate Symposium is a chance to work with some of the brightest high school students across the country. I am excited to reunite with many of the leaders that guided, taught, and mentored me during my time in debate. I hope through this experience I am able to be a resource to NSD students just as my role models were to me.

Trent Gilbert

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '17

Stanford University, CA, '21

Trent competed in LD for five years and now coaches at West Des Moines Valley High School. As a debater, he qualified to attend the Tournament of Champions three times and NSDA Nationals three times (Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior Year). He also championed or got to finals of Blake, Apple Valley, Iowa Caucus (three times) and Dowling (two times). As a coach, Trent has had five students qualify to the Tournament of Champions and had students reach deep elimination rounds at major national tournaments consistently throughout the season. Trent currently attends Stanford University and is a computer science major with a focus on bio-computation. Outside of studies and coaching, he is part of the Stanford Debate Society, competing regularly on the Parliamentary Debate Circuit, and also works as a research assistant at the Stanford Neuroscience and Pain Lab. Trent is super excited to be coming back to NSD this summer because he's found working with students and observing their improvement incredibly redeeming and can't wait to get back to teaching!


Michael Landau

Scarsdale High SChool, NY, '17

University of Pennsylvania, PA, '21

Michael debated for Scarsdale High School for four years. He attended the TOC his senior year. He received a bid at Blake and reached bid rounds at Yale, Bronx, and Lexington. Some of his debate interests are theory, framework debate, and burden structures. Michael now attends the University of Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in finance and statistics. He does volunteer work for debate programs in Philadelphia high schools and serves as a sports writer for the school newspaper. "I am extremely excited to be working at NSD once again. I have witnessed for several summers how this camp can help push debaters to a completely new level."


Cameron McConway

Cypress Fair High School, TX, '16

UT Austin'20

Cameron debated for Cy-Fair High School for three years, qualifying to the TOC, reaching semifinals of TFA State, and finishing 15th at NSDA Nationals. She has taught at VBI, NSD, and TDC, and spent the last year working with McNeil High School in Austin. Cameron is a junior International Relations major at the University of Texas, specializing in international security studies in the Middle East. Outside of debate, she is a resident assistant in her dorm and spent the spring semester interning with Congressman Lloyd Doggett.



Dave McGinnis

Macalester College BA

St. Cloud State University MS

Dave graduated from Apple Valley High School in 1993, where he was a state champion in speech and a national qualifier in Lincoln-Douglas debate. He co-founded the Macalester College Mock Trial team, winning JV Nationals and placing third at the American Mock Trial Association Grand Nationals in 1996. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English literature, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction. Also in 1996, Dave founded the Highland Park (MN) speech and debate team, which he coached for nine years. In 2005, Dave moved to California and coached the Lynbrook High School debate team. Currently, Dave is the head debate coach at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Dave’s students have reached the highest levels of debate success. Dave has qualified students to the TOC every year since 2000. He has coached students to the Top 10 at NFL nationals three times in eight years. His students have reached late elimination rounds at every major national tournament, including final round appearances at: Berkeley, Yale, Valley, Emory, and the Minnesota and California state debate tournaments, and tournament championships at: Apple Valley, Stanford, Cedar Rapids Washington, Omaha Westside, the Iowa state debate tournament, St. Mark’s, and the 2007 TOC. Dave also coached a finalist at the 2010 TOC.

Evan McKinney

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '17

Iowa State University, IA, '21

Evan McKinney debated 5 years at West Des Moines Valley for 5 years and attended the TOC his junior and senior year. Evan is currently attending Iowa State University where he is majoring in Computer Engineering and Physics with a minor in Math. Outside of debate, he spends time rock climbing and playing tennis. Evan is super excited to be returning to NSD for his second time. His debate interests include technical frameworks, tricks and theory. I love being involved in the teaching of such an academic activity and I enjoy working closely with students to learn and develop their debate skills.


Stephen Scopa

Pines Charter High School, FL, '17

Florida State University, FL, '21

Stephen Scopa debated at Pines Charter High in LD for 3 years and is a first year out at FSU majoring in philosophy. He qualified to the TOC his senior year; earned 9th place at NSDA nationals; won Crestian; came second at Blue Key and FFL Varsity States; cleared at several national tournaments; and made it to several bid rounds. His students have qualified to the TOC, won a Finals Bid, qualified to FFL Varsity states, and cleared at most of the national tournaments they've attended. His debate areas of interest/ knowledge include analytic philosophy, tricks, and high theory. "I highly enjoyed working at NSD last summer and am excited to be back helping students reach their full debate potential and hopefully helping them enjoy a great learning experience!"


JP Stuckert

Strake Jesuit Preparatory, TX, '14

University of Notre Dame, IN, '18

JP will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Economics from the University of Notre Dame where he has been a leader in the philosophy club and in a local middle school Great Books program. JP debated as President of the debate team at Strake Jesuit. He has worked as a private coach for individual students who received a total of 8 bids, and coached Walt Whitman High School starting this year. Since graduation he has led 11 labs at NSD’s Flagship Session, NSD Philadelphia, TDC, and Strake Jesuit’s middle school camp. Outside of debate JP enjoys swimming, reading classic works of fiction and intellectual history, and annoying Ben Koh. His debate interests Aristotelian philosophy, quantitative and qualitative methodologies in empirical social science, and meta-ethics in general

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Alex Yoakum

Grapevine High School, TX, '15

Emory University, GA, '19

Alex Yoakum graduated from Grapevine High School in 2015. They qualified to the TOC their senior year, receiving their bids from Greenhill and Minneapple, as well as reaching several bid rounds throughout their debate career. They also participated in the Greenhill and Bronx Round Robins. Currently, Alex is a philosophy and comparative literature double major at Emory University. In addition to their academics, they have presented papers on Queer Theory in undergraduate literature and philosophy conferences. They also are now the Editor-in-Chief of a new journal on literary criticism and philosophy at Emory. Their main debate interests include postmodernism, traditional ethical philosophy, Queer theory and Critical Race Theory.


Ari Azbel

Lake Highland Preparatory, FL, '18

Ari has debated for Lake Highland Prep for 5 years on the national circuit. He qualified to the Tournament of Champions his sophomore, junior, and senior year, attaining a total of 15 career bids. Ari championed the Bronx and Florida Blue Key invitationals. Additionally, Ari reached finals at Lexington, and semifinals at Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, and Yale. Ari was top speaker at the Glenbrooks and Bronx.



Matthew Chen

Strake Jesuit High School, TX, '18

Matthew Chen debated for Strake Jesuit for 4 years serving as Team Captain his senior year. He qualified for TFA state his sophomore, junior, and senior years, reaching doubles as a sophomore and quarters as a senior. He qualified to the TOC both his junior and senior years with a career total of 8 bids so far. This year, he has won Lexington and the Lake Highland Round Robin, co-championed the Strake Round Robin, reached semifinals of both Valley and Apple Valley in addition to quarterfinals of the Glenbrooks. His debate interests include topicality/theory, burden structures, and debating plan affs. 


Chakra Jonnalagadda

Cypress Woods High School, TX, '18


Akum Kang

King High School, FL, '18

Akum debated LD for four years at King High School in Tampa, Florida.  At King, he was the captain of the LD team his junior and senior years.  So far this year, he has cleared at every tournament he attended and has reached the bid round at Bronx, Blue Key, Strake Jesuit, and Lexington.  Throughout his career, he also cleared at Crestian, the Sunivtational, Yale, Apple Valley, Florida States, and NCFL Nationals and qualified to NSDA nationals twice.  He received a speaker award at Blue Key and earned bids at Bronx and Lexington.  Akum attended NSD twice as a student and this will be his third summer at the camp. Akum is excited to teach at NSD because he believes debate has tremendous educational value and that NSD provides a great environment for teaching students about every aspect of debate


Muhammad Khattak

Lake Highland Preparatory, FL, '18

Muhammad debated for Lake Highland Prep for 5 years on the local on national circuit. He qualified to the Tournament of Champions his sophomore, junior, and senior year, attaining a total of 12 career bids. Some notable achievements of his include championing the Strake Jesuit Invitational/RR, Valley, and semifinals at Bronx and Yale. Areas of Expertise: Philosophy, T/Theory, and Kritiks.

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Kyle Kopf

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '18

Kyle debated for Valley High School for six years. He received one bid his junior year and qualified to TOC his senior year. He has reached elimination rounds at many national circuit tournaments, including: Voices, Apple Valley, Blake, Blue Key, and Lexington. Outside of debate, Kyle enjoys being politically involved, watching The Walking Dead, and watching Minnesota Vikings football. Kyle will be attending the University of Iowa in the Fall where he will study political science. Kyle looks forward to teaching at NSD because he is passionate about the impact debate can have on people and hopes to help the students have a good time!



Michael Kurian

Dulles High School, TX, '18

University of Texas San Antonio, TX, '22

Michael Kurian did Lincoln-Douglas debate at Dulles High School in Houston, TX for two years. So far in his senior year he has earned five career bids, reaching elimination rounds at Harvard, St. Marks and Winston Churchill and getting to late outrounds at Holy Cross, Strake Jesuit, Colleyville, the University of Houston, the University of Texas, and Valley. He qualified to the TOC twice, getting to the bubble round as a junior. His debate interests are framework and critical theory with a focus on Nietzsche, Psychoanalysis, and Orthodox Marxism. He looks forward to teaching at NSD and sees debate as an educational platform for activism and political praxis. Next semester he will be studying Philosophy, Literature, and Anthropology under the UT Capstone Program for Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, San Antonio.


Kevin Li

Stuyvesant High School, NY, '18

Kevin Li debated for Stuyvesant High School from 2014-2018 and served as a team officer for two years. So far, he has earned 7 career bids to the TOC, winning the UPenn and Columbia Invitationals. He was a top 5 speaker at Yale, Apple Valley, Newark, Columbia, and Emory his senior year. His debate interests include Theory/Topicality, Asian American Identity/Performance, and other critical positions. In his spare time, he enjoys painting, playing Volleyball, and watching The Office. He is excited to be at NSD this year, getting to share his passion for debate while working with fun and intelligent people!


Tori Qiu

Millard North High School, NE, '18

Tori debated for Millard North High School for four years on the Nebraska/national circuits and currently serves as the team president. She qualified to the TOC her senior year and received a bid her junior year, clearing at Valley, Apple Valley, Badgerland, Dowling, and Blake. She also qualified to NSDA nationals twice and closed out the Nebraska state tournament. Outside of debate, she enjoys painting, drawing, and playing clarinet.



Reed Weiler

Lexington High School, MA, '2018

Reed debated for four years at Lexington High School, qualifying to TOC his junior and senior years. He competed in elim rounds of a number of national bid tournaments, and was finalist of the Blake invitational, as well as champion of the Bronx Round Robin.  Aside from debate, he enjoys music, photography, and spending time in the great outdoors. "I'm excited to teach at NSD this summer because it will be a new camp experience for me and I can’t wait to share my love for debate with others!"


Many more staff members will be announced soon!