learn from the best
Our instructors come from all over the country and specialize in all aspects of LD. The highest levels of success in LD require knowledge of analytic philosophy, public policy, critical theory, and debate theory, in addition to mastery of fundamental and technical debate skills. No camp in the country can match our staff's expertise in any, let alone all, of those areas. From longtime coaches, experienced classroom teachers, and intercollegiate policy debaters to philosophy doctoral candidates, high school team captains, and the most successful recent debaters from all over the country, the VBI staff is best equipped to help you achieve your debate potential.
Jake Nebel is Executive Director of Victory Briefs and a PhD candidate in Philosophy at New York University. He holds an AB in Philosophy from Princeton and a BPhil in Philosophy from Oxford, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. Jake's research has been published in Ethics, The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, The Journal Jurisprudence, The Journal of Peace Education, and Teaching Philosophy.
As a debater for Trinity Prep (FL), Jake reached finals of Harvard (three times), Greenhill (twice), the Glenbrooks (twice), the New York City Invitational (twice), the Barkley Forum at Emory, Yale, the Bronx Round Robin, the MBA Round Robin, the VBT Round Robin, the Vassar Round Robin, the FFL State Championship, and NSDA Nationals—winning most of those. He was named Top Speaker at the Tournament of Champions, Greenhill, Harvard, the New York City Invitational (twice), the Bronx Round Robin (twice), Yale (twice), the Vassar Round Robin, the Crestian Classic, and the FFL State Championship. As a coach for the Greenhill School (TX), Jake's students have won the Tournament of Champions, the NDCA National Championship, the Dukes & Bailey Cup, the Glenbrooks, the Harvard Round Robin, the New York City Invitational, Emory (twice), the TFA State Tournament, and other national, regional, and local championships. This will be his twelfth summer at VBI.
SunHee Simon is a curriculum Director at Victory Briefs. SunHee has participated in debate since the 7th grade and has been a championship debater in both Lincoln Douglas and Policy Debate. In 2015, she was one of only two people to qualify to the Tournament of Champions in CX and LD. SunHee won numerous awards at national tournaments in high school, including LD champion at the Greenhill Invitational and LD co-champion of the Cal Round Robin and the Cal Invitational at Berkeley. She is also a former member of the USA National Debate Team. Her freshman year at Stanford University--where she now attends--she earned the semifinal title at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national tournament. She current coaches James Logan High School in California and is very involved with the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League. This is SunHee's third year with VBI.
Nick Smith is Director of Operations at Victory Briefs. He studied Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. He was the Director of Debate at Hopkins (MN) for four years and now coaches at St. Thomas Academy (MN) & The Visitation School (MN), in addition to privately coaching several students. His students have reached late elimination rounds at many major national tournaments, have received numerous round robin invitations, and have frequently qualified to the TOC, NSDA Nationals, NDCA Nationals, NCFLs, and the Minnesota State Tournament. This will be Nick's seventh summer at VBI.
Chris Theis is Executive Director of Victory Briefs. This is his eleventh year at VBI. He currently coaches for his alma mater, Apple Valley (MN). He has previously coached students from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (CA), Trinity Preparatory School (FL), Winston Churchill (TX). As a coach, his students have reached elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions each of the past six seasons, and have placed in the top 6 of the NSDA National Tournament. His students have won nearly every major invitational tournament (some multiple times) including: Harvard, Greenhill, Stanford, the Minneapple, Emory, CPS, Lexington, Loyola, Damus, the Greenhill Round Robin, and others.
As a competitor, he was one of only two juniors to ever win the Tournament of Champions and is the only person to win it twice. He was the champion of Blake, Emory, the Iowa Round Robin twice, the Greenhill Round Robin twice, and St. Marks twice. Chris was also a semi finalist at Greenhill and the Glenbrooks, and a finalist at Berkeley. Chris was a four year qualifier to the NSDA National Tournament in Lincoln-Douglas, U.S. Extemp Speaking, and Congressional Debate. This will be Chris's eleventh summer at VBI.
Marshall Thompson is the Director of Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Victory Briefs. Marshall debated for four years at Walt Whitman High School, graduating in 2011. Since then he has graduated from Wheaton College having majored in philosophy. He is currently pursuing a PhD in philosophy at Florida State University with the hope of teaching at a collegiate level. Marshall has been successful both as a debater and coach; in recent years he has coached debaters to win major national tournaments (such as the Bronx Invitational) and reach late out rounds at many others (including finals of the TOC). Marshall is an experienced camp instructor having both taught and developed curriculum at multiple camps for years. This will be his seventh summer at VBI.
Lawrence Zhou is a curriculum Director at Victory Briefs. Lawrence competed at Bartlesville HS in Oklahoma (2010-2014) in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. In high school, he was the 2014 NSDA LD National Champion. He was also a three-time finalist and two-time champion of the Oklahoma State Tournament and placed 6th at NFL Nationals his junior year. He now attends the University of Oklahoma where he is a member of the OU Ethics Bowl Team and debates on the OU Shannon Self Debate Program policy team. This will be his fifth year at VBI.
Varad is going into his sophomore year as a policy debater for the University of Texas. As a debater, he qualified to the National Debate Tournament. In high school, he won several nationally competitive tournaments including Emory, Berkeley, and Harvard-Westlake. As a coach, his students have reached late elimination rounds and won tournaments such as Greenhill, Bronx, Voices, NDCA, and the TOC. He's excited for his second summer at VBI!
Nirmal Balachundhar debated for Lexington High School (MA) for four years. He consistently reached elimination rounds and has won speaker awards at Greenhill Fall Classic, New York City Invitational, Scarsdale Invitational, the Barkley Forum @ Emory, and the Harvard Invitational. As a senior, he qualified to TOC. In the fall, Nirmal will attend Northwestern University. Nirmal was a student at VBI before junior year, and is excited to teach this year!
Anthony Berryhill (Stanford B.A. 2004, Yale Doctoral Program in Political Theory M.A. 2006, M.Phil. 2009) is currently a Learning and Development Manager at GLG, a primary research firm. Anthony currently leads Onboarding, Diversity and Learning Operations efforts for the company's Austin office of approximately 400 employees.
As a former academic Anthony won honors such as membership in Yale's Bouchet Graduate Honor Society and Grand Strategy Programs, the designation as a Harvard Kennedy School's Galbraith Scholar and publication by Stanford University Press for his research on antidiscrimination law. While in the doctoral program he also taught a wide range of audiences (from middle school to professors) on topics such as professional development, pedagogy and public speaking.
As a debate coach Anthony created two nationally competitive squads on the west coast (both of which yielded TOC champions post tenure) and his students have reached elimination rounds of nearly every major national tournament in LD. He has taught at the previous two VBI Institutes in Los Angeles: in 2015 as the Focus Week Director in Critiques and 2016 at VBI Session II in LA.
As a competitor Anthony competed for Isidore Newman High School (LA) where he qualified for NSDA as the District champion in LD Debate and Senate Legislative Debate and was a district finalist in Domestic Extemp. During his senior year he also qualified for NCFL Grand Nationals in all 3 events and was a quarterfinalist in LD at Greenhill.
Anthony joins VBI for his third summer in VBI Session II LA where he hopes to impart his knowledge and extensive experience teaching critical theory and fundamental skills in argumentation, case writing, in-round psychology and strategy.
Isis Davis- Marks (Yale '19) debated for four years at Bronx Science in Lincoln Douglas. She qualified to the TOC during her senior year of high school, receiving bids at the Hendrick Hudson Invitational (Bump) and Blake. In her junior year, she reached octofinals at the NDCA national tournament. In her senior year, she She was the co- champion at Bump and top speaker at the Scarsdale Invitational her senior year. Additionally, Isis competed at the Collegiate and Sunvitational Round Robins. She currently coaches for Wes Des Moines Valley high school, where her students have reached late elimination rounds of Harvard, Apple Valley and Blake.
Fred Ditzian debated 3 years at Fort Lauderdale High School. After graduating he coached his alma matter for 2 years and coached Trinity Prep for 3 years and is currently an assistant coach at Lake Highland Preparatory School. Many of his students have either bid or qualified to the TOCs and have seen great success on the national circuit in his many years of coaching. Fred will also be completing his graduate degree in Policy Analysis and Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University.
As a student at Greenhill, Bennett was a 3-time Texas Forensic Association State Tournament champion and the 2016 National Speech and Debate Association's national champion. He also won the Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, St. Mark’s, Meadows, the Greenhill Round Robin, and the Apple Valley Round Robin. Bennett is currently a freshman at Northwestern University. This will be Bennett’s second summer teaching at VBI.
Zoë has debated at Scarsdale High School for four years and currently serves as team captain. She qualified to the TOC twice and has 8 career bids. So far, she has bid and made it to at least quarters of every tournament she's attended senior year. She was in finals of the New York City Invitational, Princeton (twice), Columbia, the Valley Round Robin, and the Hockaday Round Robin. This year, she earned speaker awards at Blake, Valley, Bronx, and Princeton. She is attending Columbia University in the fall.
Sean Fahey debated for Benjamin Franklin (LA) for four years and lone wolfed on the TOC circuit his junior and senior years. He qualified to the TOC twice and reached finals of the CFL National Tournament. He coaches individuals, as well as the Brentwood school, and works with the Public Debate Initiative. He now studies philosophy and political science at Tulane University. A past student of VBI, this will be his second year as an instructor.
Adegoke Fakorede debated for Newark Science (NJ) and is currently a Clement Price Scholar at Rutgers University-Newark. He was the first debater in history, along with his teammate SunHee Simon, to qualify to the TOC in both LD and Policy debate. As a senior he closed out Berkeley and reached octofinals of the TOC. This will be Adegoke's second time teaching at VBI.
Kyle debated LD for four years at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory on the TOC and TFA circuits. He qualified to TFA State his sophomore, junior, and senior years, clearing to doubles his senior year. Kyle qualified to the TOC and NSDA Nationals his senior year, clearing to Round 8 at Nats. This past year, he coached two debaters to qualify for the TOC in LD. He also currently debates college policy on the NDT/CEDA circuit.
Trent competed in LD for five years at West Des Moines Valley High School. As a debater, he qualified to attend the Tournament of Champions three times (receiving 12 career bids) 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) Dowling (two times), IHSSA State (twice) and IFL State (twice). Additionally, he has received top speaker at Blake and Iowa Caucus and speaker awards at Apple Valley, Lexington, Emory, Dowling, and both Iowa State Debate Tournaments. Outside of debate, Trent founded a computer programming club at a local elementary, is part of the Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council, and participated in many other activities. He is excited to attend Princeton University and study either Neuroscience or Computer Science this coming fall.
Morgan Grosch debated for Cedar Park High School in Austin, Texas for 3 years, qualifying to the TOC twice and TFA State three times. This year, she has cleared at every national circuit tournament she has attended, won top speaker at the University of Texas and the University of Houston tournaments, and reached quarterfinals of the St. Marks tournament. Outside of debate Morgan enjoys playing with her four dogs, economics, and politics. She attended VBI twice as a student and this will be her first year as an instructor.
Kim Hsun has debated for Winston Churchill High School for four years. On the national circuit, she has cleared at tournaments such as Grapevine, UT, the Glenbrooks, and Berkeley. She also attended the Hockaday Women’s Round Robin her junior year. Additionally, she has qualified for NSDA Nationals, UIL State and TFA state in multiple events. This year, her students have cleared at many national tournaments, with many receiving bids and qualifying to the TOC. She attended VBI as a student for three years, and this is her second year back as an instructor.
Kathryn Kenny debated for Harrison High School (Class of 2016) for four years, where her accomplishments included qualifying for TOC twice, winning the Newark Invitational, and reaching quarterfinals of Yale and Harvard and elimination rounds of Valley, Apple Valley, Lexington (top seed/top speaker), Princeton, and Bronx. She competed at the Newark, Byram, Valley, Bronx, Harvard, Penn, Hockaday, Harrison, Kandi King and Derby round robins, winning the latter, breaking at the latter three, and placing second in her pod at the first two. She looks forward to teaching critical and framework debate this summer.
Rebecca Kuang studies International Economics and East Asian studies at Georgetown University. She coaches for her alma mater, the Greenhill School in Texas, and her students have reached deep elims at/ won multiple bid tournaments. She won the 2013 Tournament of Champions, the Glenbrooks, Emory, Bronx, the Harvard Round Robin, TFA State, and some other tournaments. She has taught debate at camps across the country, including UNT, Apex, and VBI, and is currently working with the National High School Debate League of China to promote debate globally. She has spent five summers at VBI (two summers as a student, three summers as an instructor) and is looking forward to returning for a sixth!
Amit was a four-year member at Science Park High School, competing both locally and nationally. He also was a member for the 2015-2016 National USA Debate team. Amit won the Harrison, Newark, Byram Hills, Bronx, and California round robins. During his senior year, he was a semifinalist at Emory and NDCA, a finalist at the Berkeley Invitational, and won top speaker at Greenhill, Emory, and NDCA. While having a primary focus in LD, he also received a policy bid to the TOC, and won the New Jersey State Championship in policy.
Priya competed in LD for four years at Millard North High School in Omaha, Nebraska. She qualified to the TOC three times (receiving 7 career bids) and NSDA Nationals three times, becoming the National Runner-Up her junior year. Priya reached elimination rounds of Valley, Glenbrooks, Dowling, Iowa Caucus, Middleton, and Westside, receiving speaker awards at them all. She attended the Valley and Apple Valley round robins and was the Nebraska State Champion and top speaker.
Daiya Massac debated for The Bronx High School of Science from 2012-2014. He was the State champion of New York during his senior year and ended his career with 3 bids to TOC. Daiya also was an assistant coach for Scarsdale High School for 2014-2016 and now coaches numerous independent debaters. Daiya is very excited to be working at Victory Briefs again for the 3rd time!
Louisa Melcher debated for Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles, and was captain of her team for two years. Throughout her career, she received TOC bids at Alta, Greenhill, Valley, and Berkeley, and competed in the Valley, Cal, and Battle for LA round robins. She now attends Columbia University.
Aram Moghaddassi debated for Syosset High School (NY) for four years and currently serves as his team captain. He has qualified for NSDA Nationals twice, NDCA Nationals three times, and the TOC. This year, he has reached semifinals at Princeton and quarterfinals at Apple Valley. Aram attended VBI once as a student, and is excited to return as an instructor this summer.
Devane debates for Rutgers-Newark and has been debating for about 10 years. This year Devane qualified to the NDT with a first round bid for the second year in a row. They have experience running and teaching a variety of debate styles, from stock issues to performance debate. Devane has coached on the high school level for the past 5 years in the city of Newark and is currently coaching for University High school in policy, LD and PF. In policy, Devane has coached the winner of the Scranton Round Robin two out of the last five years.
Sienna debated for four years at Barrington High School (IL), where she was a co-captain her junior and senior year. She earned two career bids to the TOC, both at Iowa Caucus her junior and senior year. Sienna was also successful on the local circuit; she was an octofinalist at IL State her freshman year, quarterfinalist at IL State her junior year, semifinalist at IL State her senior year, and placed in the top 60 at the NSDA National Debate Tournament her junior year. Sienna has also worked extensively with United Nations Women, first as a 2015 Global Community Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment, and now as a 2017 Mentor to current Champions. She was recently honored with a faculty position at the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Youth Initiative (SDSN-Youth) as a Campus Coordinator at Emory University. Sienna will start her sophomore year at Emory University this fall, continuing her double major in International Studies and Economics and academic pursuits with the Robert W. Woodruff Scholarship.
Raffi Piliero debated for Harrison High School for four years. As a junior, he reached octofinals of the Tournament of Champions, finals of the Newark Invitational, quarterfinals of the Glenbrooks, and quarterfinals of Apple Valley. Thus far this season, he has won the Greenhill Round Robin, the Greenhill Invitational, Scarsdale, and Princeton; he has also reached semifinals of Valley and Bronx, and was top speaker at Bronx and Apple Valley. Raffi attended VBI as a student twice, and is excited to return this year as an instructor.
Nina Potischman debated for Hunter College High School, earning 10 TOC bids throughout her career. She won the Yale Invitational, the Mid-America Cup Round Robin, the Harrison Round Robin, the Lexington Invitational, and was a two-time champion of the Mid-America Cup. She was a finalist of the Big Apple Round Robin, a semifinalist of the Princeton invitational, and the top speaker of the Lexington Invitational and Harrison Round Robin. She is currently the president of her school’s debate team.
Margaret debated for Northland Christian School (Houston, TX) for four years. She competed locally and nationally, having success on both circuits. She qualified for the TFA State Tournament for three years and qualified for NSDA Nationals, where she was the champion of her district. She competed in outrounds of numerous tournaments including St. Mark's, Greenhill, Grapevine, Isidore Newman, University of Houston, and Apple Valley. She also competed in the Greenhill, Apple Valley, TDC, and Kandi King Round Robins.
Christian debated in LD and Policy for Newark Science (NJ) for four years. In LD, he qualified to the TOC his junior and senior year (was top speaker his senior year), won the Ridge tournament, was the co-champion of Scarsdale and Berkeley, and made it to late elimination rounds at Glenbrooks, Lexington, Emory, Harvard, NDCA, and TOC. In Policy, he broke at Scranton and Lakeland his junior and senior year. Christian debates College Policy at Rutgers-Newark. This will be his third year teaching at VBI.
Joey debated for three years at Evanston Township High School in Illinois. He competed on both the local Illinois circuit and the national circuit. As a student, Joey won the Illinois State tournament (twice), the NCFL National Tournament, and the NSDA National Tournament (in Extemporaneous Debate). Joey qualified to the Tournament of Champions his senior year with bids at Valley and Blake, and reached the bid round at St. Marks and Dowling Catholic. Joey is currently a sophomore at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. and is a coach at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria VA
Martin Sigalow is a debate coach and teacher at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Florida. Martin won the Apple Valley tournament as a debater at Lake Highland his senior year. He graduated from Emory University in 2015 and has had students in deep elimination rounds of Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, the Glenbrooks, the Bronx High School of Science, West Des Moines Valley, Lexington,The Sunvitational, and the Tournament of Champions, among others. He has also coached multiple state champions. But, and most importantly, Martin loves helping debaters see their effort translate into hard-earned victories!
John Staunton debated for four years at the Bronx High School of Science (NY) on the national circuit. He reached bid rounds or got a bid at Yale, Capitol, Bump, Glenbrooks and Apple Valley. He coaches individual debaters and Bronx Science. He will be majoring in physics at Columbia University. He was a past student at VBI and this will be his second year as an instructor at VBI.
Maddy Stevens debated for three years at Winston Churchill, where she is now an assistant coach. During her time as a student, she was a three time TFA state qualifier in both LD and DX, and qualifed twice for NSDA Nationals, both in LD and PF. She is a cofounder of the Women's Debate Support Group, and works with low income/low access debaters across the nation pro bono, and strives to make debate more accessible for debaters of all abilities. This will be her third year attending VBI, her second as an instructor.
Oliver Sussman attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts, where he debated policy for 1.5 years and LD for 2.5 years. As a junior, he earned 5 bids (becoming the first debater from his school to bid to the TOC), cleared at the TOC, and was a finalist and top speaker at Harvard. His senior year, he won Yale, Apple Valley, the Apple Valley Round Robin, Lexington, and reached finals of Glenbrooks. Oliver is excited to teach at VBI this summer!
Kathy has debated locally and nationally at Stuyvesant High School in New York, and has worked as a team officer and directed Junior Varsity members through the transition to the progressive circuit for the last two years. In her four years debating, she has cleared at several bid tournaments including Bronx, Columbia, and Harvard. She has also helped with various women in debate efforts, such as a spreadsheet that listed support contact info. She has attended VBI twice as a student in many different locations.
Jack Wareham has been debating nationally for Oakwood School (CA) for four years. He has qualified to the Tournament of Champions three times, reaching quarterfinals and being awarded top speaker his junior year. Additionally, he has won Bronx, Loyola, the Valley Round Robin, the Harvard Round Robin, the Bronx Round Robin, and the Battle for Los Angeles.
Henry Wu debated for Upper Arlington High School his junior and senior year. On the national circuit, he has reached elimination and bid rounds at major tournaments including Harvard, Stanford, Emory, and Valley. In his first year coaching, Henry’s debaters have obtained multiple bids to the TOC. He attended VBI twice as a student, and this will be his second year as a an instructor.
Jonah Wu debated for Syosset High School (NY) for four years and serves as the team’s debate captain. Jonah has debated on the local, regional, and national circuits qualifying to NSDA Nationals twice, NDCA Nationals twice, as well as the TOC. This year Jonah bid at Yale and Bronx, finishing in semifinals and octofinals respectively. Besides debating, Jonah’s passions include neuroscience research and reading the Bible. Jonah attended VBI twice as a student, and is excited to return as an instructor this summer!
Jason Yang debated for the Kinkaid School for three years and Katy Taylor High School for one year. He consistently reached at least the bid round of every tournament his senior year and won speaker awards at the Glenbrooks, University of Houston Cougar Classic, Meadows Invitational, and Barkley Forum. He also competed the Greenhill, TDC/Strake Jesuit, and Cal Round Robins. In the fall, Jason will attend the University of Chicago. Jason was a student at VBI before sophomore, junior, and senior years.
Gillian has debated for Scarsdale High School for four years. She has qualified to the TOC twice earning bids at Beltway, Blake, Harvard, Valley, Bronx, and Newark. She has reached at least the bid round of every tournament she has attended senior year and has gotten speaker awards at Yale, Bronx, Glenbrooks, Newark, and Lexington this year. She co-championed Blake and Beltway and attended the Sunvite, Hockaday, and Newark Round-Robins.