Learn from the Best
Effective Public Forum instructors need to stay up to date with its constantly changing styles. This summer, VBI PF's staff will feature some of the most innovative minds in the event: some who have been responsible for setting the event's stylistic tone and others who have coached against the trend-setters. To select our faculty, we pruned the debate family tree for instructors who could communicate their creative, fresh, and humble outlooks on debate. We recognize Public Forum's dynamism, so in selecting our staff, we have placed great importance on competitive and coaching success on a wide variety of circuits throughout the past four years.
Abraham Fraifeld is returning to VBI for his third year as Director of Public Forum Debate. Over the past four years, he has coached Trinity Prep and Walt Whitman’s Public Forum teams. Abraham’s students won Yale, the New York City Round Robin, the New York City Invitational, Glenbrooks, the Florida Novice State tournament, and closed out the Tournament of Champions. In 2016, Abraham’s students were in semi-finals of the NDCA National Tournament, finished 7th at the NSDA National Tournament, and reached quarterfinals or later at Grapevine, Yale, Blue Key, and Minneapple. In high school, Abraham reached six final rounds and accumulated twelve bids to the Tournament of Champions. Abraham is a student of International Politics and Computer Science at Georgetown University. He will graduate this spring.
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.
Jami Tanner is returning to VBI for her third year and is a PF curriculum director. Jami debated for Klein High School in Houston, TX, where she was the team president. She is a four-time TFA State qualifier, a three-time NSDA Nationals qualifier, and was the first TOC qualifier in her school’s history. Jami was ranked #1 in the nation by the NSDA’s Points Record in 2014, accumulated the most state points in Texas two years in a row, and was in the top 15 teams in the nation at the 2013 NSDA National Tournament in Public Forum debate. While her focus is PF, Jami was also the UIL 5A Undefeated State Champion in Lincoln Douglas debate. She currently works as a private coach, while attending New York University.
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.
Zubin Aysola is a graduate of The Nueva Upper School (CA), where he co-founded the debate team. Along with his peers, he was instrumental in the development of Nueva’s debate team. Throughout his career, he acquired 7 bids to the TOC, qualifying in both his Junior and Senior years. Zubin started his senior year ranked 8th in the nation (on VBI) and has had phenomenal success in his career. His notable achievements include: Quarterfinals at Berkeley (2015), Finals at Saint Francis and UOP (2015), Closing out Harker (2015) and Berkeley (2016), and Champion at the Berkeley Round Robin (2017) and Berkeley (2017). Zubin is excited to work with engaged and interested VBI students, helping them hone their skills.
Sam has competed in public forum debate for 4 years at Carroll Senior High School, serving as captain his Sophomore year. He has reached late outrounds at Yale, Emory, Upenn, ASU, Bellaire, Grapevine, TFA State, and has semi finaled at Florida Blue Key, the Kandi King Round Robin, the Bellaire Round Robin, and The UT Longhorn Classic. He qualified to the TOC twice in public forum, receiving TOC bids at Emory (twice), Grapevine, Bellaire, and Blue Key. His junior year, he reached round 12 at NSDA nationals, placing in the top 20. This year, he has been ranked as high as 12th in the nation on VBriefly. Additionally, Sam has attended VBI as a camper, where he won the camp tournament. He is excited to return to VBI as a staffer this summer!
Alex Chin competed for The Nueva School (CA), where he co-founded the team. In junior year, he qualified to the Tournament of Champions. He also won the Cal Invitational at Berkeley (2016) and the Kandi King Round Robin (2016), and reached the final round of the Stanford Invitational (2016). This year, he has advanced to elimination rounds at every national tournament attended, highlighted with a second place finish at the Harker Invitational (2016). Alex also enjoys working to make debate more accessible by working with local organizations that teach debate at low-income schools. He is very excited to work at VBI this summer!
Kyle Chong (UC Berkeley '19) is currently an Assistant Coach for The Harker School in San Jose, California. As a debater, Kyle was President of the Bronx Science Speech & Debate Team. He amassed seven bids to the Tournament of Champions while at Bronx Science, ending his career at tenth in the country. Kyle has made numerous outround appearances at tournaments like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Emory, Blake, the Glenbrooks, Penn, and Lexington. His students have achieved success at both the local and national level, including back-to-back championships at Arizona State and Stanford, elimination round appearances at the Glenbrooks, Bronx, Berkeley, and Blake, as well as numerous bids to the TOC. Kyle is very excited to be working with the Victory Briefs Institute this summer!
Cara Day has debated for three years at St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas, competing in PF for two, and LD for one. She has been the captain of the team for two years and is a three-time qualifier to TFA state. Cara was invited to the University of Pennsylvania and the Kandi King Round Robins. She earned a bid to the Tournament of Champions in PF at Bellaire her junior year and received an at-large bid to the International TOC, where, she placed in the top 15. Cara was one of two girls invited to compete in the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series in Simi Valley, California. Cara will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall as an English major. She attended VBI as a camper last year and is so thrilled to be teaching this year.
Dhruv Dhuper graduated from Klein High School in Texas, where he served as an officer on the team for two years. During his career, Dhruv has reached late out-rounds at the NSDA Nationals Tournament, qualified for the Tournament of Champions, co-championed the Bellaire Forensics Tournament and Hockaday invitational, and championed the University of Texas Longhorn Classic. Moreover, he has also qualified for the TFA State tournament 3 times, reaching semi-finals there his junior year. Dhruv is very excited to be working as an instructor this summer!
Alex competed for four years in Public Forum at Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, TX, where he served as Public Forum captain his junior year and Extemp captain his senior year. Alex is a 3-time Texas State Tournament qualifier, 2-time TOC qualifier, and competed at the NSDA National Tournament in Domestic Extemp. As of January of his senior year, he has amassed 7 career bids to the Tournament of Champions and was ranked as high as 4th in the nation, with numerous outround appearances at national tournaments, including: championing the University of Houston, finals at Emory, Millard North, and Bellaire, semifinals at Blue Key and UPenn, and late outrounds at Yale, the University of Texas, Grapevine and the Glenbrooks. Alex also received speaker awards at Blue Key, Emory, the University of Texas, and the Ivy Street Round Robin. Outside of his personal success, he has also coached teams for Southlake’s NJFL Middle School Nationals tournament. Alex attended VBI for two summers, and he is incredibly excited to be returning on staff!
Karina Franke (Yale ’20) is a graduate of Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY. She co-founded her high school debate team, served as a co-captain her junior and senior years, and helped develop Hackley’s middle school debate program. In 2015-16, she competed in outrounds at ten tournaments, earned four TOC bids, and semi-finaled at both the TOC and CFL Nationals. In high school, Karina was a Scholastic Art & Writing triple gold medalist and American Voices winner in persuasive writing. During her senior year, she interned at the English Speaking Union in NYC, where she worked on projects aimed at integrating debate into the classroom and increasing female participation in debate. In college, Karina works with high school debaters through Round Ready Coaching and competes in parliamentary debate for the Yale Debate Association. She is very excited to return to VBI this summer!
Julia debated for the Walt Whitman Public Forum team for four years and served as co-captain of the team her senior year. During her time as a debater, she quartered at the GMU Patriot Games, Columbia Invitational and Blake Invitational in addition to reaching varying levels of outrounds at multiple other national tournaments. She attended the Tournament of Champions and NCFLs. She graduated in 2016 and now attends Brown University.
Caroline Hao debated for Plano West Senior High School where she served as Public Forum Debate Captain her senior year. As a competitor in PF Debate, Caroline has placed top-six at the NSDA National Tournament, second at the Harvard Round Robin, first at the Hockaday School Tournament, third at the University of Texas Longhorn Classic, and second at the Grapevine Classic. She has also qualified for the Tournament of Champions in both Public Forum Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. Caroline is currently a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin in the Business Honors and Plan II Honors Programs. As an alumnus of the Victory Briefs Institute, Caroline is excited to return to teach at camp this summer!
Harrison Hurt is an assistant public forum coach for the Walt Whitman Speech and Debate team in Bethesda, Maryland. This year, Harrison’s students have collected a total of five bids to the Tournament of Champions, championed Blake, quarterfinaled at Harvard, and won top speaker at Columbia, among other achievements. Before coaching for Whitman, Harrison debated in public forum for four years at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York. As a debater, he accumulated twelve bids to the Tournament of Champions and championed several national circuit tournaments, including Blake, NCFL Nationals, and Harvard. He also won the round robins hosted by Blake, Laird Lewis, and Bronx. He made it to semis or further at the main tournaments of Wake Forest, Bronx, Lexington, Emory, and Laird Lewis. In both his junior and senior years, he finished in the top ten at NSDA Nationals and broke at the Tournament of Champions. He earned numerous speaker awards, including top speaker at Bronx, second speaker at Yale, and second speaker at the Tournament of Champions, among others. Harrison is a freshman at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he plans to major in International Political Economy.
Humza Jilani is a senior at Klein High School in Klein, Texas, where he serves as Vice President of Debate. During his career, Humza has qualified to the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament three times, reaching semifinals and being named the 2nd Place Speaker during his junior year. He has reached late out-rounds at the NSDA National Tournament (2016) and was named the Top Speaker at the Winston Churchill Classic (2016) with perfect speaker points. He co-championed the Bellaire Forensics Tournament (2016) and the Hockaday Debate Invitational (2016) and championed the University of Texas Longhorn Classic (2016). Although his main focus is in Public Forum, Humza also reached semifinals of the University Interscholastic League 6A State Lincoln-Douglas Tournament (2016). Humza attended the Victory Briefs Institute (2015) as a student and this will be his first year as an instructor.
Nathan Johnston is the Director of Forensics at Trinity Preparatory School, and formerly was the Director of Speech and Debate and Trinity Valley School and the Tournament Director and Coach for the University of Tennessee. He has coached students to the TOC, NSDA Nationals, and Florida and Texas State Championships in Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, Public Forum, Congress, and individual events. As a competitor in high school, he was a congress state champion and received second place in Lincoln-Douglas at the Tennessee state championship along with earning bids in congressional debate to the TOC. As a collegiate debater for the University of Tennessee, he won two Tennessee state championship in NPDA parli debate and finished second in the nation twice at IPDA nationals. He holds a B.S. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Tennessee, and an M.A. in History from the University of Texas.
Naba Khan started on the parliamentary debate team at Singapore American School and then moved to Walt Whitman High School, where she competed on the PF team for three years, and as a co-captain for the 2015-2016 season. She quartered at the Columbia Invitational, won multiple speaker awards, qualified to the TOC, and debated to varying levels of elimination rounds at the Laird Lewis Invitational, Blake Tournament, GMU Tournament, Lexington Invitational, Minneapple Tournament and Yale Invitational. She will be a Junior at Boston University in the Fall.
Talla Khelghati competed in Public Forum Debate at Presentation High School for 4 years where she served as captain her junior and senior years. During her career, Talla amassed a total of 7 bids to the TOC. She reached the final round at Alta, semi-finals at Stanford both (twice) and UOP, quarters at the MLK Invitational, and outrounds at The Glenbrooks, Berkeley and The Arizona State University Invitational. Notably, she won speaker awards at Alta, ASU, The Glenbrooks, Berkeley, and UOP.
Austin Kim spent 4 years debating on the national circuit for Fairmont Preparatory Academy, was vice-president of the team his junior year, and president as a senior. As of the Cal Berkeley Invitational 2017, he has amassed 14 career bids. His significant achievements include semi-finals at the Cal Berkeley Invitational his junior year, being ranked #9 in the nation on both VBriefly and Debate Rankings his junior year, and peaking at #8 on VBriefly his senior year. He also reached Octo-Finals at the Tournament of Champions his sophomore year, Quarter-Finals at the Tournament of Champions his junior year, while also finaling at the Blake Round Robin his senior year.
Keshav Kundassery competed in Public Forum for 4 years at Mission San Jose High School in California where he captained the PF team. He reached the final round of the TOC, won the University of the Pacific tournament, co-championed the Presentation Invitational and Presentation Round Robin, reached quarterfinals at the NCFL National tournament, the California State Tournament, the Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, Stanford, Harker, and the Kandi King Round Robin. He received speaker awards at the TOC, Stanford, Berkeley, and Presentation.
Lauren Lamar has debated at Northland Christian for four years, where she serves as team captain and has competed in PF, Extemp, LD, and Impromptu. Lauren has championed and semi-finaled at several Houston-area tournaments and reached out-rounds at Bellaire, Apple Valley, Alta, and Yale. She has also been invited to the Strake and Kandi King round robins. In addition, she has qualified to TOC twice in Extemp and consistently reached finals locally, as well as at Isidore Newman. Lauren is very excited to spend her summer working at VBI!
Trevor Lystad debated for Walt Whitman High School for four years, and he was a captain his senior year. As a debater, Trevor reached late outrounds at many tournaments such as Blake, Bronx, Laird Lewis and Apple Valley including finals at Blake (’14), semis at Blake (’15) and quarters at Laird (’16). He also received speaker awards at numerous tournaments including Blake and Apple Valley. Trevor is going to be a sophomore at Northwestern studying Public Policy and Economics.
Austin has competed in public forum debate for 3 years at Carroll Senior High School, serving as captain his senior year. He has reached late outrounds at Yale, Emory, Upenn, ASU, Bellaire, Grapevine, and TFA State, and semi finaled at Florida Blue Key, the Houston Round Robin, the Bellaire Round Robin, and The UT Longhorn Classic. He qualified to TOC twice in Public Forum, receiving 4 TOC bids so far his senior year. His junior year, he reached Round 12 at NSDA nationals, placing in the top 20. This year, he has ranked as high as 12th in the nation on Vbriefly and 5th in the nation on Debate Rankings. Additionally, Austin has attended VBI as a student since it’s inception, finaling at the camp tournament his first year and championing it his second. As a former camper, he can’t wait to return to VBI as a staffer this summer!
Kaitlyn O'Gara (Cal Lutheran '19) is returning for her second year as an instructor. She competed for Oxford Academy in California until she graduated in 2016, where she debated in Congressional Debate for four years and Public Forum for two years. In her junior year, she was Senior Captain of Public Forum Debate. During those two years in Public Forum, her partner and her were invited to the CPS Round Robin in 2014, and earned a TOC bid. Kaitlyn placed in the top ranking speakers at Stanford, La Costa, Fullerton, Cal Lutheran, and Jack Howe. As for her record, she and her partner maintained a winning record throughout their career, going 10-0 (as well as earning 1st speaker) at La Costa Canyon, 7-2 at the Cal State Fullerton Invitational, 4-2 at the Santa Clara Invitational, and qualified to Nationals by taking 2nd at the Southern California District Tournament. However, she attended Nationals in Congressional Debate that year, taking the title of National Champion in Senate in 2015. She currently competes for Cal Lutheran's NPDA team. Kaitlyn is very excited to be coming back for her third summer at VBI!
Lee competed in Public Forum at Trinity Prep and served as team captain his senior year. In 2 years of national circuit competition, Lee reached late outrounds at Bluekey (twice), Yale, Grapevine, and Apple Valley. He finished his junior year 7th at NSDA nationals. In the first half of 2016, semester Lee earned 4 TOC bids. He attended VBI in 2015 and is incredibly excited to be coaching this summer.
Jackie is in her fourth year of Public Forum Debate at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas. She served as Vice President of her schools team and Co-Captain of Public Forum. Jackie is a four-time TFA state qualifier and was part of the first team in her school’s history to qualify to the TOC, earning a total of 6 career bids halfway through her senior year. She has ranked as high as fourth in the nation this year, and has finaled at Bellaire, semifinaled at the Florida Blue Key, championed the University of Houston and reached late elimination rounds at Yale, Glenbrooks and Grapevine. In her junior year, Jackie reached out rounds at several national tournaments, including semifinals at University of Pennsylvania and finals at the Milo Cup at Millard North. She also was invited and competed in several Round Robins including those at Harvard, Emory and Blue Key. She is very excited to be working at VBI this summer!
Arjun debated for four years at Trinity Prep (FL). As a senior, he served as captain of the Forensics team. During his four years at Trinity, Arjun qualified to TOC three times, reached finals at the Florida State Tournament as a sophomore, finals of Blue Key as a junior, semifinals at Minneapple as a junior, and won Minneapple as a senior. Arjun was ranked as high as 3rd in the nation by the NSDA his senior year. Arjun has been ranked among the top speakers at tournaments including Laird Lewis, NDCA, and Lexington. He is a rising Junior at the University of Miami
Matt Salah has debated four years at the Nueva High School in San Mateo, California. As a member of the first graduating class of his High School, Matt played a large role in founding and establishing the debate club at Nueva, which now features successful teams in not just public forum, but also in Lincoln Douglas and Parliamentary Debate. To date, Matt amassed a total of 8 bids to the tournament of champions. Some of his most notable accomplishments include championing the Bronx Science Tournament (2015) and closing-out the Harker Invitational (2015) and Houston Round Robin (2016) with his teammates. He and his partner have begun their senior year ranked 3rd in the country by vbreifly.com. Matt is very excited to work with debaters at VBI this summer!
Nehali Vishwanath debated for Klein High School in Houston, Texas for four years where she served as the team’s president. Nehali is a three time TFA State qualifier, three time NFL Nationals qualifier, and became Klein’s first ever TOC qualifier. She also ranked in the top 15 PF teams in the nation in 2013, amassed the most state points in Texas in 2014, and was ranked 14th in Texas' NSDA points record. Currently, Nehali works as a private coach while attending Johns Hopkins University.
Maya is in her fourth year of Public Forum Debate at Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas, where she serves as the president of the debate team. She is a two-time qualifier to the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament, where she cleared to octofinals and placed within the top 10 speakers. She debated in outrounds at Laird Lewis, finals of the Holy Cross Round Robin and Plano West Tournament, and was named co-champion of the Peach State Classic. Outside of PF, Maya placed 6th in World Schools Debate at 2016 NSDA Nationals and was named among the top 15 speakers. Maya and her partner rank 25th in the nation on VBriefly. She coached two middle school teams to late outrounds at 2016 NSDA Nationals and is excited to be an instructor at VBI!
Devon studies at New York University (’19) as a Politics major with a double minor in History and Philosophy. At NYU he was a Global Debate Semifinalist and currently serves as the VP of his school’s American Parliamentary Debate team. He debated for four years at Suncoast High School in Florida. During this time, he reached outrounds at a variety of state and national tournaments like Penn, Florida Blue Key, The Sunvitational, FFL States and The Crestian Invitational. He has been coaching for three years; currently he serves as the head PF coach for Byram Hills High School. He helped Byram Hills qualify to TOC in PF for the first time in school history. Throughout his career, the teams he’s coached for have made it to late outrounds at tournaments like NSDA Nationals, CFL Nationals, Princeton, Lexington, The Sunvitational, and Ridge. This will be his second year working at VBI.
Nathan Witkin debated for four years at Walt Whitman High School (MD) and now coaches their Public Forum team. As a student, Nathan reached late outrounds at a variety of national tournaments including semifinals at the Wake, Minneapple, and Yale Invitationals, and finals at the Harvard Invitational, earning a career total of 11 bids. He has also received a multitude of speaker awards including top speaker at Yale and the TOC. During his first year of coaching, Nathan’s students have broken at many tournaments and both semifinaling and winning the Blake Invitational. He can’t wait to work with students at VBI this summer!
Caroline Wohl competed for Summit High School in New Jersey, graduating in 2016. At Summit, Caroline qualified to TOC both her Junior and Senior year, the first Summit team to do so. While competing, reached elimination rounds at Yale, Bronx, Princeton, Laird, and Lexington, Harvard, TOC, and Nationals earning 5 career bids. In addition, Caroline earned numerous speaker awards including top 10 at Yale, Bronx, Princeton, and Laird. Her senior year, Caroline reached a season high of 44th on vbrefily.com and top 50 on debaterankings.com. Caroline studies Political Economics at Georgetown University.