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.

 

2022 Faculty

Jinhee Heo | 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 '25

Skills: Mentorship, Critical Argumentation, Persuasion

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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, Tufts '26

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 the Sunvite invitational Columbia invitation and Emory Invitational, accruing 14 bids to the tournament of champions, and is currently ranked 2nd 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 prevention with middle schoolers and elementary schoolers through the high school. Brett is excited to instruct at LDI and can't wait to have the opportunity to teach people what he has learned!

Education: Lexington '22, Emory '26

Skills: Persuasion, Flowing, Humor

Instructors

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anna kozlova | Instructor

Anna is a member of LHS’s graduated class of 2022, and is attending the University of Chicago in the fall. While at LHS, she participated in the school’s debate program for four years, competing and judging, as well as heading up LDI’s fall and spring sessions. Anna has also been involved in mock trial, both in the high school’s competitive team and in the middle school’s club she started and ran for two years, and it’s something she plans to continue at college. At the University of Chicago, she plans to major in history and political science, and in her free time, she loves to read, listen/play music (alto sax!), and bake. Teaching kids ways to hone their argumentative, persuasive and public speaking skills is something Anna also loves to do, and she can’t wait to do that at LDI. 

Education: Lexington '22, University of Chicago '26

Skills: Critical Thinking, Persuasion, Argumentative/Public Speaking 

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Arun Kodumuru | Instructor

Arun is a rising freshman at the University of Michigan who competed in the national LD circuit for 4 years. Some of his successes include top speaker at the Columbia and Sunvite invitationals, Quarterfinals at the Columbia Invitational and Sunvite Invitational, Double Octos at the Harvard Invitational, Isidore Newman tournament, and NDCA national tournament. Outside of debate, Arun takes part in helping run nonprofit organizations such as X-Learn and the Youth Passion Project, frequently volunteering, and playing the Tabla. Some of his hobbies include hanging out with friends, playing chess, and listening to mumble rap.

Education: Lexington '22, University of Michigan '26

Skills: Persuasion, Strategy, Argumentation

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Austin Li | Instructor

Austin is a senior heading into his third year of Lincoln Douglas debate who will be attending Princeton University next year. 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, Emory '26

Skills: Persuasion, Flowing, Humor

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ava kam | Instructor

Ava is an incoming freshman at Brandeis University after 4 years of LD debate at Lexington High School. During her competitive years, Ava qualified for NCFL Grand Nationals in her junior year, as well as placing 2nd in the MA State Championship for both her sophomore and junior year. She spent her senior year of debate as a teacher’s assistant for the LHS Novice LD class and as a mentor in the national organization W.in debate. Outside of debate, Ava was a part of a cappella at LHS as a member of Euphoria. She also spent a lot of her time serving the homeless community in Harvard Square as co-president of her club Global Citizens Corps. She is so excited to work with the students at LDI this summer!

Education: Lexington '22, Brandeis '26

Skills: Persuasion, Clear Argumentation, Argument Adaptation

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avery fortier | Instructor

Since Avery’s time as a Lincoln-Douglas debater at Lexington High School, she has loved teaching other students key debate concepts and strategies. She led the high school’s novice class, developing its curriculum and teaching all incoming LD debaters. She also acted as an independent tutor to several students located across the country for multiple years. Additionally, Avery volunteered for both Women in Debate and Pep Talk Debate, coaching gender minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, respectively. Teaching aside, Avery finalled the Massachusetts State Debate Tournament and made octafinals at the NDCA. She also received one bid to the TOC and competed in two bid rounds. Avery is now a rising junior at Vanderbilt University studying Cell Biology and Asian Studies along the pre-medical track. She ultimately hopes to apply the knowledge she gained from debate towards making medicine more accessible for disadvantaged groups. Outside of school, Avery enjoys running, painting, and volunteering for her local animal shelter. She is so excited to be a part of LDI this summer!

Education: Lexington '20, Vanderbilt University '24

Skills: Mentorship, Persuasion, Argumentation

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Jeong-Wan Choi | Instructor

Jeong-Wan is a rising sophomore at Boston College, who participated in Lincoln-Douglas for 4 years. He qualified to the Tournament of Champions in his senior year. During his career, he was a semifinalist at the Yale Invitational, finalist at Lakeland, quarter-finalist at Newark, and got to elimination rounds at many national tournaments. He really enjoys teaching the fundamentals of debate and igniting a passion for the activity in students. In his freshman year of college, he judged at several national tournaments, often judging elimination rounds. Outside of debate, Jeong-Wan enjoys playing basketball, reading, studying java, or hanging out with friends. 

Education: Lexington '21, Boston College '25

Skills: Critical Thinking, Persuasion, Speech Efficiency

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Katherine Gu | Instructor

Katherine competed in Public Forum debate at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School on local and national circuit. She semifinaled the Massachusetts State Debate Tournament in the Novice division, reached elimination rounds of various other national circuit tournaments such as Yale, Columbia, and UPenn, and finished as 9th speaker at the silver Tournament of Champions. Outside of competing, she has worked with local middle schoolers to develop their public speaking and debate skills for 6 years. Katherine is currently studying biochemistry and computer science at Vanderbilt University. She is looking forward to helping young speakers discover their confidence and potential this summer! 

Education: Acton-Boxborough '20, Vanderbilt University '24

Skills: Critical Thinking, Persuasion, Speech Efficiency

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matthew berhe | Instructor

Matthew is a rising sophomore at Umass Amherst who competed extensively on the national policy debate circuit and occasionally participated in Lincoln Douglass. Matthew won multiple tournaments including the Glenbrooks invitational, received 6 bids to the tournament of champions his senior year, and reached both the quarterfinals and octofinals of the tournament of champions. In his free time he enjoys playing and watching basketball along with reading and some netflix. Matthew is excited to start using some of what he learned to teach kids who’ve signed up for LDI.

Education: Lexington '22, University of Massachusetts Amherst '26

Skills: Argumentation, Persuasion, Critical Thinking

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Navya Sammeta | Instructor

Navya is part of the graduated LHS class of 2022, and is a rising college freshman attending Tufts University. She has experience in competing and judging Policy Debate. Navya has previously worked to teach debate at the Lexington middle school debate clubs and at LDI. She is also a math and English teacher at a local academy, where she has worked closely with children of all ages during the last 4 years. These experiences helped her find a passion for teaching and she is very excited to continue teaching at LDI. Outside of school, Navya is a trained dancer and plays the viola. At Tufts, she is looking forward to pursuing degrees in psychology and sociology in the fall. 

Education: Lexington '22 Tufts University '26
Skills: Problem Solving, Teaching, Persuasion

 

Lab Assistants

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Anaya Joshi | Lab assistant

Anaya is a rising junior at Lexington High School entering her third year of Public Forum debate. She’s had quite a few successes in her time on the team, being a quarterfinalist at the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational and qualifying for the Massachusetts State Tournament three times. Anaya was also a part of the only Public Forum team from Lexington ever to qualify for the NSDA National Tournament, making her one of six students who represented the New England District in Public Forum at the tournament. Outside of debate, Anaya has trained as an Indian classical dancer for ten years and competes in Lexington’s mock trial team, teaching the activity to students at Diamond Middle School. Anaya is very excited to teach at LDI this summer!

Education: Lexington ‘24
Skills: Persuasion, Rhetoric, Argument Adaptation

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Atreyi Basu | Lab assistant

Atreyi Basu is a rising junior at LHS entering her third year of Public Forum. She was introduced to debate through summer camp in middle school and is excited to create the same environment for students this year. She is on the Varsity Public Forum team and qualified twice for the state tournament. In her career, she has competed at local tournaments as well as tournaments on the national circuit, winning speaker awards and breaking to elimination rounds. Outside of competing, she has worked with children through the Peer Leaders program in LPS and running workshops at Cary Library and has attended summer camp at the Institute of Speech and Debate. In her free time, Atreyi enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and playing with her dog.

Education: Lexington '24

Skills: Critical Thinking, Persuasion, Speech Efficiency

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Kevin Yang | Lab assistant

Kevin is a rising senior that just finished his third year of Policy debate. In the summer of his freshman year, he attended the Michigan debate summer camp. Kevin has competed multiple times, receiving awards such as semifinalist at the Massachusetts State debate tournament. In addition, Kevin has also judged and competed in multiple rounds of Public Forum and LD debate.  Outside of debate, Kevin enjoys lifting, biking, and investing. This summer, Kevin is very excited to work with the younger generation to teach them the knowledge he's gained from his years of experience. 

Education: Lexington '23

Skills: Mentorship, Persuasion, Argumentation

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Mirei Saneyoshi | Lab assistant

Mirei is a rising sophomore going into her second year of Lincoln Douglas debate. In her first year of competing, Mirei championed Ridge, Cavalier Invitational, and the MA State Debate Tournament in the novice division. Additionally, Mirei reached semifinals at Lakeland and NDCA National Championships, and earned top speaker at Pennsbury and Needham in the novice and JV divisions. This summer, Mirei will attend NSD Philadelphia to further hone her debate skills. In her free time, Mirei enjoys running, singing, and volunteering at an inclusive running club for kids. A former Lexington Debate Institute student herself, Mirei is excited to teach younger students the skills of debate!

Education: Lexington '25
Skills: Persuasion, Strategy, Critical Thinking

 

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.