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.
Jake Nebel is Executive Director of Victory Briefs, a PhD candidate in Philosophy at New York University, and (starting Fall 2019) Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He holds an AB in Philosophy from Princeton and a BPhil in Philosophy from Oxford, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. 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 thirteenth summer at VBI.
Chris Theis is Executive Director of Victory Briefs. He currently coaches for his alma mater, Apple Valley High School (MN). He has previously coached students from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (CA), Trinity Preparatory School (FL), Winston Churchill (TX). He currently sits on the National Debate Coaches Association’s Executive Committee, the National Speech & Debate Association Lincoln-Douglas Topic Wording Committee, and the Tournament of Champions (TOC) Lincoln-Douglas Committee.
As a coach, his students have consistently reached elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions, 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 three juniors to ever win the Tournament of Champions and is the only person to win the tournament 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.
Jami Tanner is returning to VBI for her fourth year, as the Director of Public Forum Debate. 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 to attend the TOC 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, she was also the UIL 5A Undefeated State Champion in Lincoln Douglas debate her junior year. Jami has previously worked as a private coach for various pf teams and has coached debaters to both NSDA Nationals and the TOC. Last year, she served as the PF Curriculum Director for VBI. Jami currently studies Political Science at New York University, where she will begin her Master’s work this fall.
Devon is returning to VBI for his third year, as PF Curriculum Director. Devon recently graduated from NYU ('18), majoring in Politics with a double minor in History and Philosophy. At NYU he was a Global Debate Semifinalist and served 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, Blue Key, The Sunvitational, Florida States and The Crestian Invitational. He has coached a number of teams for four years, both freelance and as the head PF coach for Byram Hills High School. At Byram Hills, he helped qualify three teams to the TOC for their first appearance in school history. Throughout the rest of his career, the teams he’s worked with have made it to late outrounds at tournaments like NSDA Nationals, CFL Nationals, Princeton, Lexington, The Sunvitational, Penn, Harvard and Ridge.
Nathan Johnston is returning to VBI for his second year, as Instructor Development Director. Nathan is the Director of Forensics at Trinity Preparatory School where he also teaches World History and AP Human Geography. He is the former Director of Speech and Debate at Trinity Valley School and Tournament Director and Coach for the University of Tennessee. He is the Chair of the Florida Panther NSDA District and the Secretary of the North Florida Catholic Forensics League. Nathan has coached students to elimination rounds of the TOC, NSDA Nationals, Florida and Texas State Championships, and various national tournaments 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 NPDA Tennessee state championships 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.
Gaurav Asthana is a senior debater at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Massachusetts, where he has been PF captain for two years. During his time as a captain, Gaurav helped his novices in closing out Massachusetts States and doubled the size of the PF team. As a junior, Gaurav and his partner reached quarterfinals at Bronx, becoming the first team from their school to attend the Tournament of Champions. This year, Gaurav has amassed five TOC bids, reaching semifinals at UK and Columbia, quarterfinals at Yale, and octafinals at Blake and Harvard. In addition, he was 5th speaker at Bronx, 7th speaker at Blake, a semifinalist at the Blake Round Robin, and a finalist at the Harvard Round Robin. He has been ranked as high as 10th on Briefly and 3rd on DebateRankings. Gaurav can’t wait to work at VBI this summer!
James Chen is a senior at Millburn High School in New Jersey, where he serves as team president. James qualified to TOC all four years of his career, while collecting 22 career bids. James reached semifinals of the Bronx and Blake invitationals, and finals of the Glenbrooks invitational. Most notably, he championed the Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, and Berkeley invitationals. James is excited to work with students at VBI this summer!
Kyle Chong (Berkeley ’19) is an Assistant Coach at The Nueva School in California. As a debater, Kyle was the President of Bronx Science’s Debate Team, where he amassed seven bids to the Tournament of Champions, ending his career at tenth in the country. He made numerous outround appearances at tournaments like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Emory, Blake, the Glenbrooks, Penn, Lexington, and the Beltway. His students have achieved success at both the local and national level, with recent championships at SCU, ASU, Berkeley, Harker, Kandi King, and the TOC. Kyle has worked at a number of summer institutes before with experience coaching debaters at all skill levels and is very excited to be returning to VBI!
Isabel Coleman competed in public forum for four years at The Altamont School, serving as captain for three of those years. She received six gold bids to the TOC senior year and placed second at ASU and the Ivy Street Round Robin. Isabel has championed several tournaments throughout her career, including Holy Cross and Carrollton. She has also been ranked as high as fifth on debaterankings.com. She has enjoyed teaching those on her team and local circuit for the least three years and is looking forward to doing the same at VBI this summer!
Chris Conrad debated for the Nueva School, where he amassed 5 bids to the Tournament of Champions in his senior year, won the Kandi King Round Robin, and reached finals of the James Logan Martin Luther King Invitational. Since graduating, he has primarily worked as an assistant coach for The Hill School in Pennsylvania. Chris is super excited to keep coaching at VBI this summer!
Malcolm was co-captain of the debate team at Newton South High School in Massachusetts. As a debater, he championed the Bronx Round Robin, finished second the Harvard Round Robin, finished second at Columbia, reached semifinals of the Yale Invitational, and reached quarterfinals of the Tournament of Champions. Since graduating, Malcolm has worked as an assistant coach at Strath Haven High School in Pennsylvania. This year, Malcolm's students have championed the Bronx Round Robin, the Villiger invitational at St. Joseph's University, a The Lexington Winter Invitational, and reached elimination rounds at Bronx and Yale. Malcolm is very excited to work at VBI this summer!
Dhruv debated for Klein High School in Texas. Over the course of his career, he reached late outrounds at NSDA Nationals and the Tournament of Champions, co-championed the Bellaire and Hockaday invitationals, and championed the University of Texas Longhorn Classic. Additionally, he semifinalled at the TFA state tournament his junior year. Currently, Dhruv attends UT Austin and coaches Westlake High School, where his teams have received bids at the Grapevine and Churchill tournaments. Dhruv is excited to be returning to VBI this summer!
Marybeth is a senior at Newsome High School where she served as president of the debate team for two years. She was the first student from her school to reach elimination rounds at a national circuit tournament and the first to attend the TOC. Marybeth made outround appearances at numerous tournaments such as Yale, Glenbrooks, Harvard, and Emory. Additionally, she earned multiple speaker awards at tournaments including Blue Key, Crestian, and Isidore Newman. Marybeth also qualified to both NCFL and NSDA nationals. She will be attending Emory University in the fall and is looking forward to working at VBI this summer!
Catie Ford competed for Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida, serving as team captain in her junior and senior year. She amassed a career total of 4 bids to the Tournament of Champions. She also reached quarterfinals at both NDCA and the Florida state tournament, semifinals at the International Tournament of Champions and silver TOC, and finals at the womxn’s round robin. Catie will be attending New York University in the fall, and looks forward to working with students this summer at VBI!
Abraham Fraifeld is returning to VBI for his fourth year. For the last five 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, the TOC Silver Division, and closed out the Tournament of Champions Gold Division. In high school, Abraham reached six final rounds and accumulated twelve bids to the Tournament of Champions. Abraham is a graduate of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a MS in Computer Science candidate also at Georgetown University. He previously served as director of Public Forum Debate at VBI.
Cornelia Fraser debated for four years in Public Forum Debate at Nova High School in Florida. During her senior year, she served as co-captain of the team. Cornelia competed in out rounds at a variety of tournaments including Crestian, Sunvitational, and finals at the Florida Blue Key. She was also 6th speaker at the 2017 Barkley Forum. In addition, Cornelia won her national district qualifier, varsity state tournament, and ended her career winning the 2017 NSDA National tournament.
Madi Hynson is from Atlanta, Georgia and served as co-captain and coach of her school’s PF team for three years. She co-founded the travel team, using funds from local businesses to help her team compete on the national circuit for the first time. As a competitor Madi reached outrounds at tournaments such as the Florida Blue Key, Sunvite, and Arizona State University invitationals. Additionally, she was the first from her school in PF to gain a TOC bid and NSDA qualification and to win her varsity state tournament in over a decade. Madi will be attending the Wharton School of Business at UPenn in the fall.
Humza Jilani debated for Klein High School in Klein, Texas, where he served as Vice President of Debate. Throughout his career, Humza qualified to the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament three times, the NSDA National Tournament twice, and the Tournament of Champions his senior year. His notable accomplishments include co-championing the Bellaire Forensics Tournament and the Hockaday Debate Invitational, championing the University of Texas Longhorn Classic, reaching Semifinals at the Texas Forensics Association State Tournament, and competing in Octafinals of the Tournament of Champions, and reaching late out-rounds at NSDA Nationals his junior and senior years. He received speaker awards at the Winston Churchill Classic, the TFA State Tournament, and the Harvard Invitational. Although his main focus is Public Forum, Humza also placed 3rd in the University Interscholastic League 6A State Tournament in Lincoln-Douglas debate. As a coach for Westwood High School, his students have qualified to the Tournament of Champions and championed the Grapevine Classic and the Myers Park Laird Lewis Invitational. Humza is an alumnus of VBI 2015 and currently attends Harvard University. This will be his second year teaching at VBI.
Anshul Joshi has competed in public forum debate for four years at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, serving as a captain his junior and senior years. At AB, Anshul has doubled the size of the PF team and helped his novices close out the Massachusetts State Championships. In his junior year, he reached quarterfinals at Bronx and reached bid rounds at Wake Forest, Yale, Manchester, and Lexington, becoming the first team from his school to qualify for the Tournament of Champions.As of February of his senior year, Anshul has accumulated 6 TOC bids, having reached semifinals at the NSDA Season Opener at UK, quarterfinals at Yale, semifinals at Columbia, and finals at both the Blake Round Robin and the Harvard Round Robin. Anshul has been ranked as high as 3rd on DebateRankings his senior year.
Harish Korrapati competed in Public Forum for four years for Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, NC and currently attends Duke University. Over his career he amassed six bids to the TOC in addition to top finishes at tournaments such as Yale, The New York City Invitational, Glenbrooks, Emory, Harvard, TOC, and NCFLs. As an assistant Public Forum coach for Western High School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Harish coached teams to top finishes at Emory, Florida Blue Key, and the Florida State Tournament.
Russell debated Public Forum for 4 years at Strath Haven High School in Pennsylvania. He was his team's captain, as well as the first on his team to ever break at a national circuit tournament. Over his career, he amassed 9 career bids, qualifying to the TOC both his junior and senior year. He has made appearances in late outrounds at many national tournaments, including Yale, Bronx, GMU, Harvard, and the TOC. Russell also has won UPenn, the Bronx Round Robin, Villiger, Lexington, and Pennsbury. He has previously taught debate at summer camps in the Philly area, and is very excited to share his passion for debate at VBI!
Cale McCrary is the head coach of Corona del Sol in Arizona, and formerly served as the captain of Saint Mary’s Hall in Texas. As a competitor, Cale was consistently ranked top 30 in the country for Public Forum, getting to late out-rounds at tournaments like TFA state, Harvard and Grapevine. In his first year as a coach, Cale’s teams qualified to the TOC, reached round 11 at NSDA nationals, and championed the Golden Desert Tournament and Millard North Round Robin.
Lizzie McCord debated for four years at Hunter College High School in New York. As a competitor, she was ranked as high as eighth in the country. She acquired eight career bids to the Tournament of Champions, reached quarterfinals of Big Bronx (2015, 2016), finals of the Lexington Invitational (2017), co-championed the Princeton Invitational (2015), and broke at the 2016 ToC. Lizzie now assistant coaches for St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, TX, where three of the teams she coached qualified to TFA state. She is a rising sophomore at Harvard University studying history.
Austin has competed in public forum debate for 3 years at Carroll Senior Highschool, serving as captain his senior year. He has reached late outrounds at Yale, Emory, Upenn, ASU, Bellaire, Grapevine, Berkeley, 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 5 TOC bids his senior year. His junior year, he reached round 12 at NSDA Nationals, placing in the top 20. His senior year, he has ranked as high as 12th in the nation on Vbriefly and 5th in the nation on Debate Rankings. He currently attends The University of Texas and coaches for Strake Jesuit College Prep. Additionally, Austin has attended VBI as a student, 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!
Megan debated in Public Forum at Presentation High School (CA) for two years, serving as Team Vice President her senior year. She qualified to the TOC both years she debated in PF, earning 5 career gold bids and 5 career silver bids. She was ranked as high as 7th her senior year, notably reaching the final rounds of UOP 2016, Alta 2017, and Berkeley 2018 among other elimination round appearances such as quarterfinals of UOP 2017 and semifinals of ASU 2018. Individually, she also placed in the top five speakers at UOP 2016, Alta 2017, the Cal Round Robin 2018, and Berkeley 2018. Outside of Public Forum, Megan also debated in Lincoln Douglas for two years and attended NSDA Nationals 2017 in World Schools Debate. Megan is an incoming freshmen at Northwestern University majoring in journalism. She can’t wait to work at VBI this summer!
Sarah Park is a sophomore at Cornell's school of Industrial and Labor Relations. She debated Public Forum at Millburn High School in New Jersey for four years where she taught the middle school debate program. Throughout her career Sarah broke to elimination rounds at eighteen national tournaments, amassed seven career bids, and qualified for the Tournament of Champions her junior and senior years. She was a quarterfinalist at the John Edie Holiday Classic and the New York City Invitational, semifinalist at the UPenn Philadelphia Round Robin and the champion of the Ridge Debates. She also won numerous speaker awards including second speaker at the UPenn Liberty Bell Classic and fourth speaker at the Valley Mid-America Cup. She was ranked as high as eleventh in the nation and she can't wait to work with you all this summer!
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 Florida Blue Key (twice), NDCA, Yale, Grapevine, Apple Valley, Emory, and Berkeley. Lee amassed 10 total bids to the Tournament of Champions throughout his career. In postseason competition, Lee qualified to FFL States, NSDA Nationals, and the UK TOC both his junior and senior years. His junior year he had a winning record at TOC and placed 7th overall and NSDA Nationals. His senior year he reached quarterfinals at FFL States, semi finals at TOC, and outrounds of NSDA Nationals. Lee peaked on the rankings April of his senior year being ranked #1 in Public Forum. Lee is currently coaching for Trinity Prep and Miramonte MZ, where his students have broken at the Cypress Bay tournament, Florida Blue Key, the University of Pacific tournament, and won Santa Clara University’s tournament. He is now a Freshman at UC Berkeley, planning to study Business Administration and Public Policy. He is incredibly excited to be returning to VBI to coach this summer.
Jackie debated at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas for four years. During this time, she served as Vice President of her schools team and Co-Captain of Public Forum. Jackie received 8 career bids, was a four-time TFA state qualifier and was the first team in her school’s history to not only qualify to the TOC, but break into elimination rounds! Her senior year, she ranked as high as 4th in the nation on debaterankings.com. During her career she finaled at Emory, Bellaire and the Milo Cup at Millard North, semifinaled at the Florida Blue Key and University of Pennsylvannia, championed the University of Houston and reached late elimination rounds at several other tournaments including Yale, Glenbrooks and Grapevine. She also was invited and competed in several Round Robins including those at Harvard, Emory and Blue Key. She is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California and is an assistant coach for The Harker School. She is very excited to be working at VBI again this summer!
Arjun is returning for his 4th year as an instructor at Victory Briefs. He is a rising senior at the University of Miami, studying Software Engineering and Finance. As a competitor, Arjun debated at Trinity Prep in Orlando, FL, where he was team captain his junior and senior years. He was a 3 time TOC qualifier, reached finals at the Florida State Tournament as a sophomore, finals of Blue Key as a junior, and won Apple Valley as a senior. Arjun was ranked among the top speakers at tournaments such as Laird Lewis, NDCA, and Lexington. As a coach at Trinity, Arjun's students have reached late outrounds at TOC, NSDA Nationals, Yale, Blue Key, Grapevine, Emory, and Apple Valley.
Matt Salah debated for 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 team at Nueva. Some of his most notable accomplishments include championing the Tournament of Champions (2017), the ASU Invitational (2017), and the Bronx Science Tournament (2015). He began school at Swarthmore college last fall, where he plans to study political science. Matt is very excited to be returning to VBI this summer!
Ahana Sen is a senior at the Quarry Lane School, where she has served as her team’s vice-captain for the past two years. She was a founding member of her team and she and her partner were the first students at Quarry Lane to earn a bid/qualify to the Tournament of Champions. She advanced to outrounds at many tournaments including Glenbrooks, ASU, Berkeley and the NCFL GNT. Most notably, she reached octafinals at the TOC, semi-finals at the Barkley Forum and Stanford and championed Alta. She is looking forward to working at VBI this summer.
Krithika has competed in Public Forum for the past four years at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas. She is a two-time qualifier to the Texas Forensic Association State tournament in both Public Forum and Domestic Extemp. She has competed in late out-rounds of every national tournament she has attended since sophomore year including the University of Texas, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Bellaire, ASU, Dowling and the International Tournament of Champions. She has received invites to round robins such as the Bellaire Round Robin (reaching semifinals her sophomore year), Kandi King Round Robin, Harvard Round Robin and Berkeley Round Robin. Her senior year she championed the Grapevine Classic tournament (in addition to winning top speaker with perfect speaker points), Colleyville Heritage tournament and the Myers Park Invitational and has been ranked as high as #1 in the nation by Debate Rankings. After attending VBI three times as a student, she looks forward to returning as an instructor!
Ellie Singer is a graduate of the Blake School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she competed in public forum for four years. Her junior year, she was top speaker at the Glenbrooks, top speaker at NDCA, and placed in the top 14 at NSDA Nationals, auto-qualifying her for the ToC and Nationals in 2017. Her senior year, she received a bid and speaker award at every regular season tournament, championed the Glenbrooks, won and was top speaker at the Ivy Street Round Robin, placed 2nd at the Tournament of Champions, and also competed in world schools debate with Team USA, semifinaling at the World Schools Debating Championships. Ellie now attends Yale University where she competes in parliamentary debate.
Mia Stone-Molloy is a senior at Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles, where she has been team co-captain for two years. She will attend Brown University in the fall. She has qualified to NSDA Nationals and the Tournament of Champions two years in a row, breaking at TOC her senior year. She placed 10th at CHSSA state championships her junior year. Mia has reached late outrounds of Jack Howe, Fullerton, ASU, Golden Desert, Emory, and Stanford, and was runner up at La Costa Canyon her senior year. She has been ranked as high as 21st in the nation on Vbriefly. She is very excited to be working at VBI this summer!
Sanjim Uppal competed in speech and debate for 4 years at James Logan HS in Union City, California, and served as PF captain during her senior year. During her time as captain, she helped her teammates reach elimination rounds at national tournaments like the Cal Invitational, and qualify to the NCFL Grand National Tournament. She has qualified to NCFLs in two events: both Public Forum debate and Oral Interpretation of Literature (OI), as well as the California State Championship and the Silver TOC in Public Forum. Additionally, she has reached elimination rounds at the Martin Luther King and Berkeley Invitationals, and placed 2nd at the University of Denver Invitational. Sanjim is excited to work with everyone this summer!