NSDA Board: Priorities
"As a full-time state activities association administrator, as someone who coaches and has coached at the middle, high school, and collegiate levels -- in both the United States and internationally -- and as a former NSDA staff member, I bring unique perspective to serving on the NSDA Board of Directors."
"I have heavily promoted Congressional Debate, but I have coached everything from Program Oral Interpretation to Policy Debate, from Humorous Interpretation to World Schools Debate."
Starting as an urban public middle school participant in 1989 and through my 25-year career as a speech and debate educator, this activity inspires me through how it builds confidence and capacity for success. I have coached the spectrum of speech and debate events; age levels, from middle through university; and schools, both urban and rural, public and private, and in the U.S. and internationally. As a coach, my priority is to understand the needs of Generation Z students, and challenges they face in our current society.
The last few years have been incredibly challenging. Even before the pandemic, we speech and debate educators discussed how we felt isolated, where colleague teachers and administrators in our schools never quite understood what we do. Yet, over the past two years we connected with each other, we supported our activity with new technology, and we inspired our students to find different approaches to performing virtually. As we look ahead, we must focus on rebuilding momentum, recruitment, and capacity for in-person contests, while determining what ongoing role virtual contests play in fostering access.
During my first term on the Board, the most profound experience I had was learning from Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversations: Beyond Diversity workshop, where various stakeholders engaged in discussions of how to make speech and debate a place where more students – and the adults who support them – could feel they belong. I carry this lens to my analysis of every decision we approach. As a white male, I understand how important it is to seek perspectives of those whose lived experiences differ from mine. As a queer-identifying person, I understand speech and debate has been a haven for LGBTQ+ people to communicate authentically. Supporting this safe space saves lives.
My advocacy on the Board has focused on consistency and transparency, including a more deliberative rules change process; stronger positioning of speech and debate’s benefits with external audiences; and decisions rooted in pedagogical objectives underlying our events, and increased middle school outreach.
I believe the following priorities are critical for NSDA:
Centering equity, justice, accessibility, and belonging
Fostering a community of integrity and respect
Ensuring transparency in decision-making
Bringing access to more programs and geographic areas
Promoting mental health and wellness
Advocating research-based pedagogical benefits
"I am a speech and debate geek! At left, I am pictured with the granddaughter of Bruno Jacob (National Forensic League founder) and the late Lyn Luce, a coach and educator I admire deeply. To the right is a picture from my wedding day, which included a tour of the National Office in Ripon!"