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. Before coming to NYU, he was an undergraduate at Princeton and a graduate student at Oxford. As a coach, his students have won the TOC, NDCA, the Dukes & Bailey Cup, the Glenbrooks, the Harvard RR, Bronx, Emory, TFA State, and other national, regional, and local championships. As a debater, he won the Glenbrooks (twice), Greenhill (twice), Harvard, Emory, Bronx, the Bronx Round Robin, the MBA Round Robin, the VBT Round Robin, and the FFL State Championship, was in finals of NSDA Nationals, and was top speaker at the TOC, Greenhill, Harvard, Bronx (twice), the Bronx Round Robin (twice), Yale (twice), the Vassar Round Robin, the Crestian Classic, and the FFL State Championship. He attended VBI three times as a student and has worked at 31 sessions.
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 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.
Matthew Salah is the Director of Public Forum Debate at Victory Briefs. 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). Now, Matt coaches debate for Horace Mann High School, and studies political science and economics at Swarthmore college. He is returning to VBI for his third year.
Danny is a senior at Lincoln Sudbury High School where he’s debated for two years. In his junior year, he collected seven bids to the tournament of champions. He won the University of Kentucky tournament and the Manchester Invitational, reached finals at the New York City Invitational, semifinals at the Crestian Tradition, quarterfinals at the Harvard Invitational, and placed sixth at the NSDA National Tournament. He has been ranked as high as first on Vbriefly.
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!
Amala is a senior at Hunter College High School where she is a president of the debate team. She has amassed 8 bids and one auto-qualification (from NCFLs 2018) to the Tournament of Champions and reached semifinals or further at Harvard, Princeton, and UPenn. She has also received top 5 speaker awards at Lexington, Harvard, Princeton, Ridge, and UK. Amala is excited to work with students at VBI this summer!
Ethan is a senior at Horace Mann high school in the Bronx, where he serves as a team president. He has reached octofinals at Columbia and Princeton, and quarterfinals at Bronx and Blake. He is also a three-time qualifier to NSDA Nationals, where he placed 14th his junior year, earning an auto-qualification to the 2019 Tournament of Champions and NSDA National Tournament. He looks forward to teaching at VBI this summer!
Russell debated Public Forum for 4 years at Strath Haven High School in Pennsylvania, and currently studies Economics and Math at the University of Chicago. He was his debate team's captain, as well as the first on his team ever to break at a national circuit tournament. Over his career, he amassed 9 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, as well as numerous speaker awards. He finished his career ranked 3rd in the country.
Sajan Mehrotra is a senior at Horace Mann School in New York. He has qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice and reached late elimination rounds at a variety of national tournaments, including quarterfinals at Bronx and Blake. In addition, he was 6th speaker at Bronx, 8th speaker at Blake, and 10th speaker at Harvard. During his junior year, he placed 14th and received an autoqual at NSDA nationals and was ranked as high as 18th in the nation by VBriefly.
Jake Mengarelli 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, Jake played a large role in founding and establishing the debate team at Nueva. Over his career, he amassed 9 bids to the ToC and won the Tournament of Champions (2017), the ASU Invitational (2017), and the Bronx Science Tournament (2015). Jake now studies politics, philosophy and economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kate Selig debated for The Bromfield School in Massachusetts, serving as team co-captain during her junior and senior years, where she tripled the size of her team. She has broken at every tournament she has attended since junior year, including Yale, Princeton, Big Lexington, and the University of Kentucky Season Opener. Most notably, she reached quarterfinals at Columbia and Harvard in her junior year, making her the first debater from her school to qualify to the TOC. She was named the top speaker at Yale in her senior year and semifinaled at Massachusetts States. Outside of Public Forum, Kate finished in the top 32 in World Schools Debate at NSDA Nationals in 2018. Kate attended VBI as a student three times and is very excited to return as an instructor this summer!
Ahana Sen attended Quarry Lane School, where she has served as her team’s vice-captain for 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 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!
Gigi competed in Public Forum for four years at Evanston Township High School. Throughout her career, she semifinaled at Blake, championed Middleton, the Millard North Round Robin, and the Glenbrooks Round Robin, and qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice, reaching outrounds her senior year. Her individual accomplishments include top speaker at the Tournament of Champions, Mid-America Cup, Millard North, and the Glenbrooks Round Robin. Gigi will be a sophomore at Columbia University next year and she is very excited to work at VBI this summer!