Faculty

We pledge to provide our students with exceedingly qualified faculty. Our faculty consists of successful and respected debaters, many of whom have been recognized for their achievements on the National level. They come from different backgrounds, but each has an abundance of insight and knowledge to share.

 

Our instructors are all Lexington High School alumni with 4-6 years of debate experience. In addition, current members of the debate team support the learning environment as lab assistants. We have a 4:1 student-staff ratio, which allows us to break into small groups and provide direct and targeted feedback for every student.

Every single instructor we hire has a unique skillset they have spent their own debate careers honing, and they will be eager to pass it on to your children. Our staff is committed to educating our students about debate in a fun, creative, and engaging way. They have all had extensive experience working with younger students and will go through rigorous training before instructing here to ensure your child has the best and most rewarding experience possible at our Institute.

 

2021 Faculty

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At the NCFL Grand Nationals his junior year, culminating in a fifth-place finish.

Zack Schnall | Outgoing Director

Zack is a graduate of the Harvard Debate Council and an Assistant Coach at Lexington High School, with a special focus in strategic argumentation and research. His students have gone on to win multiple tournaments, including the Yale Invitational and Harvard Policy Round Robin. He taught the high school's Novice Policy Debate class his senior year, and instructs for the Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops and TAL Education Group. He graduated in 2016 after competing in Policy for four years, ranking 2nd in the Northeast, finishing 5th at NCFL Nationals and co-championing State Championships his sophomore and senior year. In college, he finished 2nd at Northeast Regionals and represented Harvard at National Championships in 2019. Outside of debate, Zack is committed to engaged scholarship: he lobbied to get gun reform at the State House after the Parkland shooting, organized campus voter engagement efforts across the region, and helped implement an 8th grade civics curriculum in Boston schools through Harvard's Center for Ethics.

Education: Lexington '16, Harvard '21, Yale Environment '23, Harvard Law '26

Skills: Research, Strategic Argumentation, Communication

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Jinhee Heo | Incoming director

During Jinhee’s four years of policy debate at Lexington High School, she won the Dartmouth Debate Institute Tournament, qualified for championships at the National Speech and Debate Tournament, and was a quarterfinalist at the Rutgers-Newark Invitational and a semifinalist at the Kaiser Invitational. Jinhee has been an instructor at the Clarke and Diamond Middle School debate clubs as well as the Lex SPLASH debate course since her sophomore year. Outside of debate, Jinhee enjoys writing. She is currently studying journalism at Northwestern University. Jinhee is excited to return to her third summer teaching at LDI!

Education: Lexington '20, Northwestern '24

Skills: Mentorship, Critical Argumentation, Persuasion

Zahin Ahmed | Lexington Debate Institute
Zahin Ahmed | Director of Staff

Zahin has always had a passion for debate. He participated in Lincoln-Douglas for his four years at Lexington High School, competing on both the local and national circuit and winning awards across the board. Zahin graduated from Lexington High School in 2016 and then attended New York University, where he competed for the NYU Parliamentary Debate Team. After graduating from NYU in 2020, Zahin continued to foster his passion for teaching by working at Phillips Academy in Andover as an instructor in biology. In the fall of 2021, Zahin will begin medical school at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester, where he looks forward to utilizing his debate experience to advocate for greater accessibility within the medical field. 

Education: Lexington '16, NYU '20, UMass Medical School '25

Skills: Professional Instruction, Organization, STEM Research

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Michelle Wu | assistant director

Michelle is a rising senior going into her fourth year of policy debate this fall. Apart from the varsity debate class, she has helped out at the Diamond Middle School debate club and will be a teaching assistant for the novice policy debate class next year. In addition, she has teaching experience as a teaching assistant for the Math Club in Lexington and as a volunteer with the high school's drug prevention program. During her competitive years, Michelle has experienced success as the New York Fall Faceoff champion, Ridge Invitational champion, Little Lexington champion, Newark Invitational finalist, and National Catholic Forensics League tournament qualifier. Additionally, Michelle is an alum to LDI where she was first introduced to the activity and spent many joyous summers. Outside of debate, she enjoys playing frisbee on the LHS Girls varsity team, snowboarding, skateboarding, and brewing kombucha. Michelle can’t wait to be working with and teaching students this summer!

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: Clear Argumentation, Organization, Persuasion

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Brett Fortier | assistant director

Brett is a Senior going in his fourth year of Lincoln Douglas Debate, and has competed on both the local and national circuits. Over the course of his career, he has accumulated numerous accomplishments such as winning both the Sunvite invitational and the Columbia invitation, accruing 6 bids to the tournament of champions, and finished the 2021 season ranked 11th in the country by the NDCA. Brett has also attended both NSD Philadelphia and NSD Flagship which are 3 week overnight debate camps, coming 2nd in the tournament at NSD Philadelphia. Outside of debate, Brett enjoys playing basketball and works for a local Italian restaurant in the town center. Brett also volunteers with the Hastings STEM program and does drug intervention with middle schoolers and elementary schoolers through the high school. Brett is excited to teach at LDI and can't wait to have the opportunity to teach people what he has learned!

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: Persuasion, Flowing, Humor

Adam Harrington | Lexington Debate Institute

At Ridge his senior year, finishing as a semifinalist.

Adam Harrington | Instructor

Adam has been a member of the Lexington Debate Team since his freshman year. He started in Novice Policy, winning State Championships before switching to Public Forum, where he has spent the rest of his high school career. He has competed heavily in Public Forum, reaching elimination rounds and receiving speaker awards at national tournaments even as a sophomore. He finished his career taking third place at the NDCA National Championships. He loves debate for the skills it can teach, and believes that debating for LHS has been a hugely important experience for him and wants to give others the same opportunity to learn. He studied politics and government at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a result of his interest in politics, he has interned in the Massachusetts state house, and has worked on over two dozen political campaigns for offices ranging from selectmen to governor. 

Education: Lexington '17, University of Maryland '21

Skills: Argumentation, Pathos, Judge Adaptation

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Ria Bhandarkar | Instructor

Ria is a rising sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley who did 4 years of policy debate at Lexington High School. She has been to elimination rounds at several national circuit tournaments, attended the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament her sophomore year, qualified for the Tournament of Champions her junior and senior years, and won the Massachusetts State Debate Tournament in the Varsity Policy division. Outside of debate, she loves political activism and journalism and considers debate to have been critical in shaping her views on political issues and her research skills. Ria is passionate about helping aspiring debaters and is thrilled to be working with students this summer!

Education: Lexington '20, UC Berkeley '24

Skills: Critical Thinking, Persuasion, Speech Efficiency

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Caroline barry | Instructor

Caroline is an incoming freshman at Wellesley College after 3 years of policy debate at Lexington High School. As a debater, she attended numerous national circuit tournaments and has won JV divisions at tournaments including NY Fall Faceoff and the Wake Forest Fall Classic. Along with debating competitively she also has 2 years of experience teaching the Debate Club at Diamond Middle School helping students learn skills such as research and clear argumentation. During her senior year she also judged multiple tournaments in both Lincoln Douglas and Public Forum. Outside of debate, Caroline loves painting and spending time with her family. She is very excited to meet and help teach future debaters!

Education: Lexington '21, Wellesley '25

Skills: Research, Strategy, Decision Making

 

Lab Assistants

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Mahima Ramesh | lab assistant

Mahima is a rising senior and is going into her third year as a member of the policy debate team. This past year, she attended many national circuit tournaments and was an octafinalist at the NY Fall Faceoff, quarter finalist at the Newark Invitational and sixth speaker at the Massachusetts State tournament. She has also spent her summers doing debate, attending the Hoya Spartan Scholars Debate Institute and the Michigan Debate Institute. Mahima teaches at the Diamond debate club and mentors younger debaters on her team. In her free time, she loves rock climbing and programming. Mahima is really excited to work with younger debaters!

Education: Lexington '21, Northeastern '25

Skills: Argument Adaptation, Presentation

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Austin Li | Lab Assistant

Austin is a rising senior heading into his third year of Lincoln Douglas debate. During his time competing, he has been the champion of the 46th University of Pennsylvania Tournament and the 2021 Sunvitational, qualifying to the Tournament of Champions this year. Austin also has qualified twice to the Massachusetts State Championship, reaching the quarterfinals in this year. During the summers, he's taught once before for LDI and attended the NSD Flagship summer camp. He will be a teaching assistant for the Novice Lincoln Douglas debate class in the upcoming school year. In his free time, Austin also enjoys robotics and playing soccer/volleyball.

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: Persuasion Strategy, Pathos

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vikrant maan | Lab Assistant

Vik is a rising senior who's competed on the national LD circuit in debate for three years. He has had decent amounts of success over the past few years including reaching quarterfinals of Apple Valley, Finals of the Blake, Doubles of Harvard, qualified to the Tournament of Champions and has received speaker awards from Stanford, Scarsdale, Newark, and Lakeland. Vik was introduced to debate when he was a rising freshman through the Lexington Debate Institute and is excited to offer the same experience to others by working as a lab assistant. Outside of competing, he tutors kids through non-profit organizations such as PepTalk hosts online practice tournaments and has attended camps such as NSD and TDI. Outside of debate, Vik enjoys playing guitar, learning philosophy, and binging Netflix. Additionally, he frequently does community service through the Harvard Homeless Mission and teaching at past camps for the past three years.

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: Argumentation, Resourcefulness, and Strategy

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anna kozlova | Lab Assistant

Anna is a rising senior at Lexington High School going into her fourth year of policy debate. During her time on the team, she has been a quarter finalist at the Newark Invitational and accumulated numerous speaker awards. Outside of debate, she participates in mock trial and runs a mock trial club at Diamond Middle School where she teaches middle schoolers argumentative skills. In her free time, Anna enjoys reading history books or classics (currently on “Jane Eyre”!), baking anything and everything, and iced coffee. Anna is excited to teach this summer!

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: Research, Persuasion, Argumentation

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crystal liao | Lab Assistant

Check back soon for more info!

Education: Lexington '22

Skills: 

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Jeffrey He | Lab Assistant

Jeffrey is a rising junior going into his third year of Policy debate at Lexington High School. During his first year, Jeffrey was a semi-finalist at the Newark Invitational, co-champion of the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational, and top speaker and champion of the MSDL State Debate’s Novice Policy division. This past year, he has racked up numerous accolades such as elimination rounds at national circuit tournaments including the Mid America Cup, Lakeland Invitational, and Yale Invitational. Furthermore, he was a Top Five speaker and octo-finalist at the Woodward Second Year National Championship, and qualified and competed at the NDCA National Championship, finishing with an even record. This summer, he will be attending the University of Michigan Debate Institute. Outside of debate, Jeffrey is an avid soccer fan, enjoys photography, traveling, and food, and helps run LHS’ Intergenerational Outreach Club as its club secretary. He is excited to meet and teach new people during his fun-filled summer of mentoring at LDI!

Education: Lexington '23

Skills: Argumentative Organization, Technical Efficiency, Persuasion

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Vinit Iyer | Lab Assistant

Vinit is a rising junior at Lexington High School going into his third year of policy debate. In his career, he has experienced success at national curcuit tournaments, breaking even at all the tournaments he has attended. He enjoys competing with more critical arguments, including critical race theory. Outside of debate he likes to play table tennis and video games.

Education: Lexington '23

Skills: Persuasion, Argumentative Innovation, Kritikal Argumentation,

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Anuka manghwani | Lab Assistant

Anuka is a rising junior at Lexington High School. Her freshman year, she debated in Novice Policy and then her sophomore year transitioned to the Lincoln Douglas format. Throughout her career, she has accumulated numerous awards. In her novice year, she made elimination rounds at Ridge Debates and the Lakeland Westchester Classic and placed 8th speaker at the BDL High School Tournament 5 in the varsity division. Her sophomore year debating in Lincoln Douglas, she competed at over ten tournaments and placed as an alternate to represent Massachusetts at the National Speech and Debate Association tournament. In her free time, Anuka enjoys spending time with her friends and reading Victorian literature. 

Education: Lexington '23

Skills: Pathos, Argument Adaptation, Persuasion

 

Advisory Board

Sheryl Kaczmarek | Lexington Debate Institute
Sheryl Kaczmarek | Lexington Debate Coach

I am currently in my 35th year as a debate teacher and coach. I began my career at Brookfield Central HS in Wisconsin during the 1982-83 school year. In those days, I coached speech and policy debate, since the other types of debate had not yet reached Wisconsin (or been invented yet). After 10 years in Brookfield, I spent one year at Glenbrook North, teaching and coaching policy debate. I then went to Newburgh Free Academy, a public high school in the Hudson River Valley region of NY. I coached Policy, LD and PF in Newburgh for 21 years, before moving to Lexington three years ago. I now teach a full schedule of debate classes, including Policy, LD and PF. I am a Four Diamond Coach in the NSDA, a Key Coach at Emory and a member of debate coaching Halls of Fame in Wisconsin and New York. I am also a member of the TOC advisory board for Policy Debate, a member of the NDCA Executive Board and a member of the Tab Staff for Policy Debate at the NCFL National tournament.

Bill McKibben | Lexington Debate Institute
Bill McKibben | Environmentalist, LHS Alum

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat - Megophthalmidia mckibbeni - in his honor.

In addition to his distinguished successes as an adult, back in high school he founded the Lexington Debate Team alongside coach Ray Karras, and with his partner Robin Jacobsohn he won our first state championship as a senior in 1978.

Chris Palmer | Lexington Debate Institute
Chris Palmer | Founder of Tabroom.com

Chris Palmer has been coaching debate and speech for nearly 20 years. He's primarily coached Extemp, Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum and Policy debate.  He's coached champions of the TOC, NSDA Nationals, Harvard, Yale, The Glenbrooks, Greenhill, the MBA Round Robin and many other tournaments.  He is currently an assistant coach at Lexington High School.

He is the founder and chief developer of Tabroom.com, the official online tournament platform working in partnership with the National Speech & Debate Association.  He is a recipient of the Michael Bacon Coaching Award, the National Debate Coaches' Association Service Award, and is a member of the TOC's Hall of Distinguished Service and the Emory University's Barkley Forum Gold Key Society.

Ken Lee | Lexington Debate Institute
Ken Lee | BOLD Representative

Ken serves on the Board of Directors for the Backers of Lexington Debate, where he has been Treasurer since 2012. He is the parent of two Lexington High School debaters, one in Policy and one in Lincoln-Douglas. In addition, Ken has served as a judge in both Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debate tournaments.
 

Ken has worked with both for-profit and nonprofit companies over the past 30 years. Currently he is the Chief Financial Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors at the Greater Boston Food Bank as their Treasurer. Previously, Ken was at Avery Dennison, where he was the Vice President of Global Business Services and Transformation and at A.T. Kearney, where he was a Partner and Vice President in their Organization and Transformation practice.

Nivedita Mehra | Lexington Debate Institute
Nivedita Mehra | BOLD President, 2016-17

Nivedita has served on the Board of Directors for the Backers of Lexington Debate since 2015. She served as President in the 2016-17 year. She has a junior at Lexington High School who is a passionate Varsity Public Forum debater. Nivedita frequently volunteers as a judge for Public Forum debate. In her non-spare time, Nivedita heads up Product Management at Limelight Networks, a content delivery network provider headquartered in Arizona. Nivedita previously worked as a Senior Principal Product Manager at Oracle with their Commerce division, creating and managing mobile applications for Fortune 500 e-Commerce vendors. Nivedita has a Masters of Science from the College of Engineering from Northeastern University and an MBA from Boston University.

Anne-Marie Dinius | Lexington Debate Institute
Anne-Marie Dinius | BOLD President, 2017-18

Anne-Marie has served on the Board of Directors for the Backers of Lexington Debate since 2016. She served as President in the 2017-18 year. She has one son who is a passionate Varsity Policy debater. Anne-Marie frequently volunteers as a judge for both Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum debate. In her non-spare time, Anne-Marie is a patent attorney, a job she has held for two decades. She runs her own law firm, AMDinius Law, where she works closely with inventors creating persuasive oral and written arguments, which help her clients achieve their business goals. 

Still unsure about the summer? We understand.