The Toronto Debate Academy offers debate and public speaking classes and workshops to middle and high school students and to private clients. Our instructors are highly successful competitive debaters themselves, with years of experience competing and judging across Canada and the world.

We offer weekly classes in North York and online. We also provide specialized workshops to academic and corporate clients. We adapt our curricula to suit your organization’s needs. To arrange for the Toronto Debate Academy to conduct a workshop at your school or workplace, please contact us.


Coaches

Rudi Lof

Rudi is a JD/MBA graduate who practiced law at a national firm before establishing the Toronto Debate Academy. Rudi is an accomplished competitive debater, and has spoken both at the National Championships and the World Universities Debating Championships. As a debate coach, Rudi has led students to success at the regional, provincial and national levels. His students’ recent competitive successes include winning the World Schools Debate Championships and winning the Jr. National Championships, as well as, multiple top-ten finishes and championships at regional events. In addition to coaching debate, Rudi teaches a class in Law at York University.

Mars He

Mars has a BA in Philosophy from Harvard University and debated in Canada throughout high school. He is a HWS Round Robin Finalist, Worlds’ University Debate Championships (WUDC) top 10 speaker and United States Universities Debate Championships champion. Previously, he’s been the President of the American Parliamentary Debate Association and a Chief Adjudicator for Harvard’s and Stanford’s debate tournaments and the North American Debate Championships. He currently coaches the Harvard College Debating Union.

 

Alexandra (“Lex”) Sundarsingh

Lex has a BA in Political Science and an MA in History from the University of Toronto. She is currently pursuing a PhD in History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  She is a World University Debate Championships (WUDC) quarterfinalist, the champion of the Yale IV, a 2 time finalist at the Cambridge IV and a 2 time quarterfinalist at the Oxford IV as well as reaching elimination rounds in over a dozen other tournaments. She has also been the Chief Adjudicator at the North American Debate Championships and North American Women’s Debate Championships in addition to judging numerous elimination rounds at other events.

Aly Barranda

Aly is an undergraduate majoring in AB Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University. She’s accumulated various and well-rounded experiences through debating in a plethora of circuits, breaking in tournaments such as the United Asians Debating Championship 2020 & 2021 (Quarterfinalist & Octofinalist), Hart House IV 2021 (Finalist), and Cambridge IV 2021 (Quarterfinalist). Aside from debate, she also adjudicates in formats like World Schools, British Parliamentary, and Asian Parliamentary.

Alice Jones

Alice Jones is a current Master of Public Policy student at the University of Auckland, having completed a Bachelor of Arts (Politics & International Relations and Psychology) and Bachelor of Commerce (Economics and Commercial Law) in 2019. Alice has been active in the debate and speech community for more than ten years, with significant experience as a participant, organizer, and coach. During her undergrad, Alice was ranked among the top 200 speakers at the World University Debating Championship in Thailand, and Champion of Pacific Cup in 2018. Alice has been a Chief Adjudicator of several tournaments in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, with judge and speaker breaks at the United States Universities Western Regional Championship, Hugill Cup, Seattle Intervarsity, UBC Womxn’s, and Harvard’s World Schools and Forensics tournaments. Alice coaches British Parliamentary, Canadian Nationals, Australs/World Schools style, Public Forum, and public speaking.

Alykhan Jetha

Alykhan is a first-year student of Economics and International Relations at the University of Toronto. As a member of the Canadian National Debate Team he represented Canada at tournaments across 4 continents, including the World Competition and the Pan-Americans. He also succeeded in national competitions, winning the Canadian National Championship and the prestigious Hart House High School Competition in 2018. He has been debating for 8 years and is also a former TDA student.

Amy Zhu

Amy is an incoming first-year student at Queen’s University studying Commerce. She has debated throughout her four years of high school, breaking at or winning various Canadian high school debate tournaments. Amy began instructing debate in her sophomore year of high school, working at debate camps with middle and high school students. Also, she is a former TDA student.

Andrew Hart

Andrew is a Ph. D candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Georgia. He also earned an MA in Communication Studies, an MAT in Science Education, a BSFR in Wildlife Management, and a BA in International Affairs from the University of Georgia. Andrew was an accomplished competitive debater in high school and college with multiple regional tournament wins and appearances in the elimination debates of several national championships. Andrew is an experienced teacher and debate coach with students ranging from middle school to college, and his students have been successful at the local, regional, and national levels, including several national championships. Andrew is currently a communication studies instructor at the University of Georgia and teaches a specialized public speaking course designed for students in the STEM fields.

Andrew Shi

Andrew is an incoming Undergraduate student at Dartmouth College studying Computer Science and Economics. He is the 2022 Canadian National Debate Champion, 2019 Junior National Debate Champion. Over his 4 years of debating in High School, over which he has learned from TDA for 3, he has broken at and receive speaker awards many tournaments, including Canadian BP Championships (Finalist), UPenn WSDC (Champion), Stanford WSDC (Semifinalist), and Harvard (Quarterfinalists).

Archie Stapleton

Archie Stapleton will begin Masters in Theological Studies at Harvard University in September 2021, and graduated with an Honours degree in Philosophy at the University of British Columbia in 2020. He was the Captain of the Western Australian Debating Team in 2015, coming in the top 10 speakers at the Australian National Debating Tournament in 2014 and 2015. At university, Archie won the Hugill Cup 2016, broke at Brandeis, broke at the Novice Championships at UBC, and was elected the training director of the University of British Columbia debating society in 2016. Archie has coached debate for over 5 years, taking students to the break rounds at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Western Australian Debating League, BC Provincial championships, NSDL China, as well as having one student make Team Canada in 2020. He is an expert in Public Forum, British & Canadian Parliamentary, Mock Trial, Public Speaking, and Australs/World School styles. Currently he prepares students in TDA’s competitive Public Forum program, which most recently has won both Chinese and American tournaments.

Ashley Pinheiro

Ashley is a Comms & Political Science student at Carleton University. They have broken as a speaker at tournaments such as Hart House IV, Leger Central Canadian Championship & NAU*WDC.  In addition to debating, Ashley has been a part of six Adj-Cores & has chaired outrounds such as the CP National Semi-Final, Lord Dorchester Cup Final & HHIV Novice Final. They are the former President of Carleton Debate and Speech.

Calvin Xu

Calvin is an undergraduate student at Northwestern University, currently studying Political Science and Philosophy. Throughout high school, he has broken at Queens High School Debate Championships (Finalist), Harvard World Schools Invitational (Semifinalist), Saskatoon WSDC (Gold Semifinalist), and Stanford Invitational (Semifinalist). Calvin also has extensive experience organizing many high school tournaments, acting as Chief Adjudicator in many of them, and has judged elimination rounds in both BP and WSDC tournaments.

Daniel Svirsky

Daniel is a second-year student studying Political Science at the University of Western Ontario. Entering his fifth competitive year, he has found success both in the Canadian high school circuit and international university circuit. In his novice year alone, Daniel has broken at Cornell Online Novice Nationals (Semi-Finalist), HartHouse IV (Novice Finalist), Queens Chancellor’s Cup (Semi-Finalist), McGill Central Novice (Semi-Finalist), and Estonian Open (Champion and Top Speaker). He has judged many elimination rounds for high school tournaments and is serving as the executive director for the Canadian University Intercollegiate Society for Debate (CUSID) in the upcoming year.

Darius Jokubas

Darius holds a BSc degree in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE). Currently, he is finishing his Masters in Communication Science with a research focus on rhetorical persuasion at the University of Amsterdam. In high school, Darius became a national public speaking champion and successfully represented Lithuania in the International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC ‘16) where he reached the semi-finals. Darius has over 5 years of experience in teaching World Schools Debating (WSDC) and public speaking. Throughout these years working with the Debate Centre of Lithuania he has hosted multiple lectures and worked with kids of various ages. Darius hopes to utilize his academic and practical knowledge of public speaking to help students develop their skills of persuasion.

Emily Xie

Emily is a student at the University of Western Ontario, currently studying Computer Science. She has broken at the North American Debate Championships, the North American Women and Gender minorities Debate Championship (finalist), Hart House IV (novice champion), Centennial Cup (finalist), and the Central Novice Debating Championship (semi-finalist). She has also broken as a judge at several university tournaments, such as the Canadian Parliamentary National Debate Championship, Leger Cup, and Seagram’s IV.

Eric Kazadi

Eric is an Environmental Policy & Management student, majoring in Geography and Politics, at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a decade’s worth of competitive debating experience, and is a World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) semifinalist, a World University Debating Championships (WUDC) ESL quarterfinalist, a Doxbridge Worlds ESL Finalist and was formerly the Vice President of his university’s debate club, the Wits Debating Union. Eric is also experienced as an adjudicator with judge breaks at WUDC, Cambridge IV and Princeton IV as well as the WSDC Grand Final. He now dedicates most of his time to coaching and coaches the South African WSDC team.

Dr. Fiona Simpson

Fiona Simpson has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the Université de Montréal where she specialized in corneal regenerative medicine. She holds an HBSc in Molecular Biology from McMaster University. Fiona competed in Ontario high school debate and Canadian university debate for over a decade, competing at two World University Debating Championships, as well as numerous Canadian and North American Debating Championships. Fiona was a breaking judge at the 2009 World University Debating Championships and the Chief Adjudicator for the 2011 Canadian National Debate Championships.

Fletcher Calcagno

Fletcher Calcagno holds a BA in Asian Studies with minors in Philosophy and Korean Language and Literature from George Washington University. He debated in high school on the Oregon state debate circuit and in college in the American Parliamentary Debate Association. As a high school debater he competed in both Oregon Parliamentary and Public Forum, qualifying to the Parliamentary Tournament of Champions and finishing in the top 10 at the Oregon state championships in Public Forum. As a college debater he has received speaker awards and competed in out rounds in both novice and open divisions. In addition to competing, he served on the CA team for the 2020 Johns Hopkins Invitational, dabbled in British Parliamentary, and judged out rounds at a number of tournaments. He has coached at the high school level for his former high school, as well as taught public speaking, debate, and English courses.

Hannah Zhao

Hannah is a geography and international development student at McGill University. She was the 2021 North American novice champion, and has broken at and received individual speaker awards at numerous debate tournaments such as the Hart House Intervarsity (quarterfinalist), Womxn and Gender Minorities Open (quarterfinalist), Guindon Cup (semifinalist), and UBC Open (novice champion). Hannah has organized several high school and university-level tournaments, notably acting as equity officer at the 2021 McGill Winter Carnival and chief adjudicator at the 2020 McGill High School British Parliamentary. She has three years of coaching experience in parliamentary debating and public speaking.

Isaac Hordiyuk

Isaac has a BA in Political Science with minors in History and Geography from the University of Toronto. He has reached elimination rounds at over a dozen university tournaments, including the Yale IV, Canadian Parliamentary Nationals, and North American Championships, and has won or received a top speaker prize from more than half a dozen other tournaments. He has more than five years of coaching experience, working with various private and school-run programs in Canada and internationally. As a high school debater, he won or received top speaker prizes at more than a dozen tournaments.

Jessica Yu

Jessica is an incoming first-year student at Yale University studying Cognitive Science. Throughout her four years of high school debate, she has broken and won speaker awards at several tournaments including Stanford WSDC (Quarterfinalist), Saskatoon WSDC (Semifinalist), WSDA Slovenia (Quarterfinalist). She has also organized and judged at several high school BP tournaments and taught public speaking to elementary and middle-school students.

Joseph Wu

Joseph is a second-year student studying Economics and Political Science at McGill University. Throughout his debating career, he has had success in both the high school and university circuit, breaking at Hart House IV (Octo-Finalist), NAUDC (Novice Finalist), Norams (Novice Champions), and UBC Open (Novice Champions). He has had extensive experience judging and running high school tournaments, judging many elimination rounds and grand finals. In high school, he frequently received top speaker awards and was the champion of several university-run tournaments.

Judah Purwanto

Judah is an undergraduate student at UCL, studying Politics & International Relations. He was part of Team Indonesia for the World Schools Debating Championships in 2020, where he ranked as the 10th best speaker in the world. Internationally, he’s been crowned the best speaker of the Borneo Championships, Sumatra Open, New York University Abu Dhabi IV, and was the ESL best speaker of the University of Southern California IV. Judah is also a highly experienced adjudicator, having judged elimination rounds in over 30 international tournaments. He has also been part of the chief adjudication team of the Indonesian National Championships & the Asian Schools Debating Championships.

Keerthana Bathula

Keerthana is entering her 3rd year at LSE studying International Social and Public Policy with Politics, and is the President of LSE’s Debate Society. During her high school debate career she was the captain of the 2020 WSDC Philippines team, and ranked 8th best speaker within the Maya division of WSDC 2020. Keerthana is also an EUDC Semifinalist, and has broken at numerous other tournaments including both the Oxford and Cambridge IV.

Ksenia Podvoiskaia

Ksenia holds a Bachelors of Education and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in history from Queen’s University. Currently, she is completing her Masters in History, also at Queen’s. She is a Canadian National Debating Champion, a Central Canadian National Debating Champion, a breaking World University Debate Championship (WUDC) debater, a 2 time finalist in the North American Women and Gender Minorities Tournament, and an experienced adjudicator. Ksenia is also a former President of the Queen’s Debating Union.

Layla Moumin

Layla Moumin is a graduate student in the Legal Studies department at Carleton University and previously completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Criminology at the University of Toronto. She has competed at numerous tournaments throughout high school, winning provincial championships in Saskatchewan and making it to the semi-finals of Junior Nationals. While a member of the Hart House Debate Club at UofT, she was a finalist and second place speaker at the McGill Central Novice Championship as well as a quarter-finalist at the Seagram IV.

Lidya Andreani

Lidya is an incoming Harvard Graduate School of Education student. She has a Bachelor of Economics and Commerce and a Master of Finance from Monash University, Australia. Lidya is an accomplished competitive debater and has spoken and judged at the World Universities Debating Championships and Australasian Debating Championship. As a coach, Lidya has led students to success at Australasian, and International level. Her students’ recent competitive successes include breaking and becoming top 10 speakers at Worlds Schools Debate Championship, as well as multiple top-ten finishes and championships on the Australasian circuit. Lidya has broken as a judge at 30+ international debating tournaments. In addition to coaching, judging, and serving the debating community as Equity Officers at various international debating tournaments, Lidya has a forthcoming publication at Oxford Political Review, is the recipient of the Harvard Grants and Barakett Family Fellowship and was an Associate at KPMG.

Megan Yahnke

Megan Yahnke is a PhD. candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota and has taught communication courses in higher education for seven years. These include courses in public speaking, argumentation, English composition, and interpersonal communication. As an educator she aims to help students become more confident and effective communicators both in content and style. She believes in creating an engaging classroom where students with diverse skill sets can feel comfortable developing their ideas and hone their presentation skills. Her professional scholarship addresses consciousness-raising in the popular sphere and the role of collective rhetoric and testimony toward the advancement of gender justice.

Monica Ferris

Monica has over 15 years of teaching public speaking and debating experience to both English and French students. A Canadian National Debating Champion (’08), 3-time Canadian BP Champs & 3-time US BP Nats Finalist, Monica has a long list of debating accomplishments. She’s also a four-time break judge at the World Debating Championships (including judging the EFL Grand Final) and a WSDC break judge.

Natallie Chow

Natallie is a Medical Sciences student at Western University. She has broken as a speaker at tournaments such as Canadian British Parliamentary Championships, Chancellor’s Cup, McMaster ProAms and Evodio Cup. She was the Deputy Chief Adjudicator at Canadian Parliamentary Nationals (2021) and has broken as a judge at CP Nationals and Western IV. In addition, she is a three time ICDC qualifier for DECA and is a 2nd place ICDC winner in the category of Franchise Business Plan.

Nicholas DeVito

Nicholas DeVito is a current senior at Tufts University, where he majors in both quantitative economics and political science, concentrating in East Asia, along with a minor in finance. He has been involved in competitive debating for 7 years, both as a participant and coach. In high school, Nick championed the Harvard Invitational, the Tournament of Champions, and the National Speech and Debate Championship. Along with this, he was ranked as number one in the nation in Congressional Debate. In college, Nick finished his last competitive season as 3rd Speaker of the Year and 2nd Team of the Year as a member of the Tufts Debate Society. He also broke top 10 at several large BP tournaments such as the Brandeis Invitational and the US Universities Debating Championship. Outside of competition, Nick has coached students over a wide range of skills and debate formats too; his students have reached elimination rounds at nearly every major national tournament in US debate, and topped national rankings.

Njuguna Macharia

Njuguna Macharia is a Law Graduate from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. He has eight years’ worth of competitive debating experience. Macharia has spoken at various finals in his debate career, including the Pan African Universities Debate Championship, Accra Open, Pretoria Parley, UNSW, LUMS IV, and many others. Macharia is also experienced as an adjudicator in BP and WSDC with judge breaks at WUDC, WSDC, Cambridge IV, Oxford IV, ABP, EUDC, Hart House IV, and Princeton IV. He is also a DCA at the World Universities Debate Championship 2023.

Ray Smith

Ray is a Public Speaking teacher who has also taught Theater and Spanish. Currently he works as a public speaking coach for ESP (English for Specific Purposes) students entering graduate schools in the U.S. He has also coached TED talk speakers, teachers and school administrators. From 2011-2018, Ray was a high school Speech and Debate coach in Virginia. During his tenure he coached many students to top 3 places in the Virginia Catholic Forensics League and Shenandoah Valley Forensics League. He led many qualifiers to the Virginia District NSDA tournaments, and under his eye many students broke to elimination rounds at invitationals such as James Madison University, University of Pennsylvania and William and Mary. Ray coached students who qualified for NSDA Nationals and NCFL Grand Nationals. During his term, the team was top 10 in NSDA’s Virginia ranks every year.

Rokas Keršys

Rokas holds a BA in social and humanitarian sciences from The Paris Institute of Political Studies. Starting as the head-coach of his high school debate club, Rokas produced multiple national champions as well as World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) delegates for the Lithuanian National Team, including some of the best speakers in Lithuanian history. As a debater, Rokas became a national champion of Lithuania in 2012, 2014 and 2015. In 2014 he was part of the Lithuanian delegation to WSDC Thailand. Following his experience in world schools debating and coaching, he moved on to British Parliamentary by establishing a BP debating club at his university in France. Having taught debating in Lithuania, France and The Netherlands to a wide array of age groups from middle-school kids to university students, Rokas brings debating expertise alongside flexibility to adapt to every student’s needs.

Serena Yuan

Serena is a student at the University of Toronto studying Life Science. She has been debating for four years in the Ontario high school and university circuits and has broken at the Womxn and Gender Minorities Online Debate Open (novice champion), the Central Novice Debating Championship (semi-finalist), the Canada Cup (champion), McGill BP Debating Tournament (champion), and Harvard World Schools Invitational (quarter-finalist). As a first-time university judge, she broke at the North American University Debate Championships this year. She has also chaired elimination rounds at many high school tournaments over the past two years.

Sherry Shu

Sherry Shu is an incoming first-year student at Western University, studying computer science and business. She’s competed within the British Parliamentary and World Schools debate styles. She was a UPenn World Schools Finalist, Harvard World Schools Quarterfinalist, and Stanford World Schools Quarterfinalist; as well as a McGill Winter Bonanza Champion and Hart House High Schools Finalist. She has also achieved first place internationally in DECA for the Marketing Communications Series event. She has significant experience coaching novice students between Grades 6-9, and leading educational workshops in writing and public speaking, particularly with her own organization, Find Your Story.

Dr. Steven Murray

Dr. Murray holds a BA in economics from Trinity University, an MA in communication from Baylor University and a PhD in Rhetoric from the University of Georgia. Steven was a highly competitive and nationally successful debater in high school and college, including multiple tournament wins, high place finishes in several national championship formats, and too many top speaker awards to count. Dr. Murray has coached high school debate since 2010 and college debate since 2013. His students have shown success at the local, state, and national level, including multiple national championships. Dr. Murray was an early pioneer of digital learning, with over a decade of experience teaching debate online. Dr. Murray privileges argumentative flexibility, on-the-fly thinking, and creative navigation of the debate space. He currently serves as a professor of communication studies at the University of Georgia and SUNY New Paltz.

Dr. Svilen Trifonov

Dr. Svilen has a PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. He is currently an instructor of rhetoric and communication studies at the University of Georgia. Svilen has been teaching public speaking for ten years at several colleges and universities across the United States. He has helped students prepare for public speaking competitions and other public events. As a scholar and a teacher, Svilen writes and teaches about citizenship and belonging. His teaching centres around the concept of engaged citizenship in the classroom, helping students overcome speech anxiety, gain confidence and experience in speaking situations, and advocate for socially and politically relevant topics.

Tanae Rao

Tanae is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Oxford, studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He is currently Chair of the governing committee for competitive debating at the Oxford Union. Previously, he was on the Chief Adjudication panel of the most recent edition of Oxford Schools’, the largest British Parliamentary debating tournament internationally for high school students. As a university-level speaker, Tanae has advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Universities Debating Championships, as well as broken at multiple well-regarded tournaments, including the Amsterdam Open, LSE IV, Chicago Open, and two editions of Doxbridge. He also has over a year of experience coaching beginner and intermediate-level speakers at Oxford.

Wajeeh Maaz

Wajeeh is a law student with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from King’s College London. Wajeeh is a Hart House IV finalist, a Doxbridge semifinalist, Durham IV champion and top 10 speaker, and has competed in the outrounds of the World University Debate Championships (WUDC), the Yale IV and the Imperial IV.  As an adjudicator they have judged outrounds at over thirty tournaments, including the Princeton IV, the Trinity WGM open and the ESL Round Robin. Wajeeh has served on the adjudication core of large regional tournaments including the LSE IV and the JHU Open, and is the current registrar of the European Universities Debating Council.

Zach Bloom

Zach is in his final year of an Honours Philosophy Major at the University of British Columbia. He has been involved in competitive debate for almost a decade. In high school, he was the captain of his school’s debate team and regularly broke at DANEIS debate tournaments throughout New England. As a University Student, he has competed in British Parliamentary debate, notably earning the 4th speaker award at the WCNC at UBC. Zach has four years of experience working with middle and high school aged children. As a debate coach, Zach has had a number of his students break and win tournaments, recently at St. Johns in Vancouver.

Zuha Tanweer

Zuha is double majoring in Political Science and Contemporary Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. They have been debating since high school and were selected to be on Pakistan’s national debate team for two years, breaking as the 8th ranked team in the world. As a member of the Hart House Debating Club, they were a finalist at the Pan American Queer Open 2020, Europe Queer Open 2020 and USC IV 2021, ranking among top 10 speakers at each of these tournaments. Moreover, they broke as a judge at Worlds Schools Debating Championships 2019 as well as multiple university-level tournaments. Zuha has also been coaching debate for around 4 years, having engaged with students ranging from 8 years old to high school students.