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.

 

Brent Schmidt

Brent studied History at the University of Toronto and Western University and has been a debate coach for over a decade. As a debater, Brent has won & broken as a debater at numerous international tournaments, from the HHIV to NAUDC and even WUDC itself. Brent also served on the adjudication team for Belgrade WUDC and has judged or coached at virtually every major high school and university tournament. As a coach, Brent has long been involved with Canadian international debating and has coached numerous students who have debated on national teams around the world and become some of the best high school and university debaters in the country and even internationally.

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.

Alykhan Jetha

Alykhan is a 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.

 

Andre Zhang

Andre studies International Business at the University of Toronto. As a high school debater, he has won awards at many tournaments including UWaterloo (champion), Hart House Summer (finalist), Central Canadian Open (champion), and Western (finalist). He also has a wide variety of coaching experience, working with students ages 10-17 in both online and in person environments. Additionally, he has been the Tournament Director for several large schools tournaments and has broken as an adjudicator at many more.

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.

Ashley Pinheiro

Ashley has extensive experience working with students from ages 7 to 17 in debate, public speaking, improv, and poetry. She studied Communications & Political Science at Carleton University. As a debater, Ashley has reached elimination rounds in tournaments across Canada & the US, including as a Finalist at the North American Women’s and Gender Minorities Championship, Leger Central Canadian Championship and Hart House IV. They have been a top 10 speaker at more than half a dozen tournaments and speaking competitions. Ashley worked extensively within the Canadian debate community as an adjudicator on CA teams and as an organizer for both University and high school tournaments. She has chaired out-rounds such as the Canadian Parliamentary Nationals, Lord Dorchester Cup Final & HHIV Novice Final. They are the former President of Carleton Debate and Speech. Ashley’s teaching style focuses on helping students develop quick thinking, evidence based reasoning, and the self-confidence to express their perspective on the world.

Blake Shapiro

Blake is an MA Prose Fiction graduate from the University of East Anglia, and two-time graduate from the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he studied English & Law. He has been involved in debate in many capacities since joining his local schools league in 2013. He worked as a provincial coach in South Africa, winning two national championships, and seeing many of his students selected for the national team. Competing himself, he has broken at various tournaments, including Stellenbosch Preworlds (semi-finals), the Edinburgh Cup (semi-finals), and Cape Town Open (finals). He also won Lockdown.exe and the September Open, and ranked 2nd at Jozi Rumble, the largest debate tournament in Africa.

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.

Chris Leonardi

Chris Leonardi (BS, Psychology) has been a successful debater and coach at both the high school and college level. Chris won the US Cross-Examination Debate Association National Championship in 2012, and in 2013 made the semi-finals of both CEDA and NDT nationals. Chris has been top speaker at countless tournaments and has coached multiple teams to achieve the same. Chris has achieved national success with small and large programs and believes all students are capable of success through dedication and cooperative research practices. He has demonstrated his techniques at the University of Texas, Binghamton University, and the University of West Georgia. Chris has extensive experience with both office and educational software, and advocates for forward-thinking teaching methods that best enable the accessibility of new concepts and platforms for students of all backgrounds.

Christopher Hojem

Christopher is a BPolSci (International Relations), BA (Law) and BA (Honours – International Politics) graduate and is pursuing further research in the Data Science space. Chris has 8 Worlds’ Breaks across various capacities as a judge, coach, and speaker and is a former co-Head Coach for Team South Africa, and for Team Wales. He has recently been appointed as part of CAP and the Motions Committee for the World Schools Debating Championships, having previously served as Equity and an Executive Committee Member.

David Logan

David is reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford. He is the Chair of the governing body for competitive debating at the Oxford Union. David was top novice speaker at Oxford in his first year and has since broken at the Amsterdam Open, Johns Hopkins University Open, BITS Pilani, and DAIC Open (Finalist) where he was the best speaker of the tournament. Most recently, David served as a CA at this year’s edition of Oxford Schools’, the largest BP debating competition for high school students globally.

Dylan McCarthy

Dylan is reading Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. They won the Grand Final of the European University Debate Championship in 2022, as well as having been a Semi-Finalist at the World University Debate Championship that same year. They were the top speaker and overall winner of Uhuru Worlds 2022, as well as having broken at several other prestigious competitions including the Oxford IV, Cambridge IV, and Yale IV. They are also an accomplished adjudicator, having chaired the Grand Finals of Glasgow WGM, Duke Open, and the Amsterdam Open, as well as having been a member of the Chief Adjudication team for the Aberdeen Open, UCD LawSoc IV, and the Amsterdam Open.

Emma Sun


Emma is a student at Western University studying Health Sciences and business. She also has a robust DECA background, breaking multiple Canadian tournaments and placing second provincially in her Marketing DECA event. Emma began coaching debate in her junior year, writing a training curriculum as president of her high school debate club. Emma is also a former TDA student.

Emilie Torwalt

Emilie Torwalt (BSc) has over six years of experience in the international competitive Speech and Debate circuit. Emilie has achieved success in many tournaments through the regional to the global level, most notably as the Grand Champion of the Hugill Western Canada Debate Championships in 2023 and as a Grand Finalist in the Public Speaking Division of Vietnam WUDC 2024. She’s also served as an adjudicator for debate tournaments in a wide variety of styles, including British Parliamentary, Canadian Parliamentary, Canadian National Debate Format, Austral-Asian Parliamentary, and Public Forum. As the former President of the University of Alberta Debate Society, Emilie has experience coaching competitive Speech and Debate to individuals from Middle School through to University. Emilie’s teaching methods focus on building the confidence of students so that they can apply public speaking and argumentation skills to many multidisciplinary avenues.

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 a BA graduate with a triple major in Geography, International Relations and Political Sciences from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Eric has been a WSDC Semifinalist and a WUDC ESL Quarterfinalist. He is also an experienced judge and coach, having been on the CAP of WSDC, Doxbridge Schools, Eurasian Schools Debating Championships and African Schools Debating Championships. He has also broken as a judge at numerous tournaments such as the Cambridge & Princeton IVs amongst many others.

Ethan Curry

Ethan has been involved with debate for over a decade. He is a two-time Canadian National Champion and has been in the finals of the Hart House IV and the North American Universities Debating Championships. He has won 8 tournaments and made the finals of over 25 additional tournaments. As an adjudicator Ethan has judged a Worlds Semi-Final and elimination rounds at Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, LSE, and the Asian Continental Championships. He was also the CA for the North American Debate Championships. As a coach, Ethan has worked with a wide range of students fostering a passion and care for the art of debating. He has worked with WSDC national teams and many students who have gone on to break at tournaments.

Eugene Cloete


Eugene is currently completing his degree in Actuarial Science at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He was part of South Africa’s WSDC team which broke at numerous international tournaments. He also represented South Africa at WIDPSC for two consecutive years where he won Impromptu speaking and placed second for debating. As a coach he has trained the South African Junior development team and has been a selector for both Junior and Senior national team trials.

Gaby Lin


Gaby is currently a Law student at the University of Oxford. She is a WUDC quarterfinalist, EUDC quarterfinalist, and Cambridge IV semi-finalist. She formerly debated for Team Canada and won the 2021 World Schools Debating Championship.

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 Championships. 

Heather Li

Heather is studying Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. She was the former Chair of Oxford Debating and has extensive debating in both school and university debating. She convened Oxford Schools’ 2023 and was Chief Adjudicator of the International Competition for Young Debaters in 2022. At the high school level, she has broken at Hart House High Schools, Canadian National Debating Championships, and British Parliamentary Nationals. At the university level, she has broken at competitions across Europe, including Exeter Open, Amsterdam Open, DAIC Open, and Kyiv Open.

Isaac Hordiyuk

Isaac has a BA in Political Science with minors in History and Geography from the University of Toronto, and is currently studying Law at the University of Oxford. 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 extensive 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.

Jack Palmer

Jack is currently an undergraduate student at Trinity College Dublin studying Philosophy, Political Science, Economics & Sociology. He was part of the Irish World Schools team in 2020, where he reached the Semi-Finals. Since moving to college, Jack has reached the World University Debating Championships Semi-Finals, and won the European University Debating Championships, as well as having broken at numerous competitions including the Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge IVs. As a judge he has judged the Grand Final of the World Schools Debating Championships, having previously judged elimination rounds at the Trinity Open and WSDC Saskatoon. As a coach, Jack’s students have reached the final of Oxford Schools, and have achieved positions on the Irish World Schools team, who Jack also helped as an assistant coach when they reached the quarter finals in 2022.

Jason Williamson

Jason Williamson is a 12-year veteran teacher who has taught Public Speaking and related courses at several Universities in the US. He holds an MA in Theological studies from Emory University and is currently completing his PhD in Rhetorical Studies from the University of Georgia. Professor Jason’s teaching emphasizes the importance of interpersonal connections, empowering people, and helping students to find their voice. Professor Jason has received multiple teaching awards and has been celebrated for his mentorship and patience with students. Professor Jason is not only a father, he is active in his local community and truly believes in the mission of enriching our students for a brighter tomorrow.

Jeffrey Ma

Jeffrey is a J.D. student at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. He holds a B.A. (Hons.) in History & Anthropology from the University of Toronto. As a member of the Hart House Debating Club, he has broken as a speaker at tournaments at the regional, national, and international level. This has included reaching the Novice Grand Finals of NAUDC and the Grand Finals of USC IV, Western IV, and the Guindon Cup. In addition, Jeffrey has experience in competitive mooting, having been selected for the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law’s contingent for the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court competition (the world’s largest and oldest international law moot).

Jessica Yu

Jessica is a student at Yale University studying Cognitive Science. Throughout her four years of high school debate, she broke 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.

Johan Lukito


Johan is majoring in Political Science & Economics at the University of Toronto. He represented Team Indonesia at World Schools Debating Championship 2021. In judging, he has done more than 30 tournaments, including: ESL Final Chair at Uhuru 2022, Novice Final Judge at Hart House IV 2022, Open Final Judge at NTU DC 2022, and EFL Final Judge at AODC 2022. He has also served as CA at several local tournaments in Asia.

Jumanah Ahmed

Jumanah is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and has been debating since early years of high school. In university, she has won awards at HHIV (Quarter Finalist), Chancellor’s Cup (Champion), Cornell IV (Semi Finalist), NAUDC (Novice Semi Finalist) and more. She also has extensive experience in coaching and teaching in both debate and public speaking.

Karen Chen

Karen is currently pursuing a master’s neuroscience after completing her bachelor’s in psychology at the University of Cambridge. She is a finalist and semi-finalist in over 15 tournaments across the world, including the LSE IV, Uhuru Worlds, Liverpool IV, and more. She is an experienced judge, having served on the adjudication core at the Cambridge Women and Gender Minorities tournament, Cambridge Schools tournament, and the LSE Juniors and Seniors.


Kathryn Pozios

Kathryn is currently a student at the University of Toronto studying political science and criminology. Kathryn has a robust debate background in both English and French. She has years of CP and CNDF experience as throughout High School, she was a finalist at Senior Nationals in French, 2 time Provincial Finalist, once in English and French and Top speaker of Junior Nationals. She has also finaled at the Western, Hart House and York University tournament and was the Top Speaker at McGill, and a Canadian BP Championship Finalist in her first year at Hart House. She formerly debated for Team Canada development team during which she was a EurOpen semi-finalist and Harvard WSDC octo-finalist.

Marcus Cordeiro


Marcus is currently studying Aeronautical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having debated throughout high school, he has spoken for the South African National Debating team for two consecutive years at numerous tournaments like the World Schools Debating Championships and Doxbridge Worlds. In his second year, he was appointed Captain of the national team. Locally, he has also won the national tournament,
ranked in the top 10 speakers and ranked best reply speaker multiple times. Marcus has also debated in Asian Parliamentary style and British Parliamentary debates, He now coaches a number of school teams.

Maria Xu

Maria is a student at Harvard College, currently studying Neuroscience and Global Health & Health Policy. She has debated in Worlds Schools, BP, and CP: her successes include being a Hart House High Schools champion, a Winter Holidays Open finalist, a UPenn WS finalist, and an Oldham Cup semifinalist. She was a member of Team Canada for two years and the runner-up of the Vietnam WSDC 2023. Maria has also had extensive experience as a coach and high school tournament adjudicator.

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 J.D. student at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. She holds a BMSc (Hons.) in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences from Western University. She has broken as a speaker at tournaments such as Canadian British Parliamentary Championships, Chancellor’s Cup, and McMaster ProAms. 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.

Paula Djakovic

Paula studies Political Science at the University of Zagreb and has been a debate coach for the Croatian national team. As a speaker, Paula has broken at numerous competitions including the World Universities Debating Championship and European Universities Debating Championship, reaching the semifinals of each. She is also the champion of the Oxford IV where she was second best speaker. During her high school years, Paula made the grand finals of Prague Debate Spring. She is also an accomplished adjudicator, having chaired elimination rounds at the LSE Open, the Trinity IV, and Western WSDC. Outside of speaking and judging, she has also served on the organization teams of tournaments including Zagreb Open and Zagreb Pre-WUDC.

Roy Zhang

Roy is currently a student of law at University College London. Roy has experience breaking at many major competitions such as Harvard WSDC, UBC schools, and Prague WSDC. After breaking at several competitions within the university circuit, including the prestigious Cambridge IV, Roy is currently a governing member of the UCL debating society. Roy also has judging and coaching experience having chaired many outrounds of schools competitions.

Sherry Shu

Sherry is a student at Western University, studying computer science and business. She’has a robust background in both British Parliamentary and World Schools debate styles. She has been a McGill Central Novice Quarterfinalist and Canadian Parliamentary Nationals Quarterfinalist. As a high school debater she was a UPenn World Schools Finalist, Harvard World Schools Quarterfinalist, and Stanford World Schools Quarterfinalist; as well as a Hart House High Schools Finalist. She has also achieved first place internationally in DECA for the Marketing Communications Series event.

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.

Wajeeh Maaz

Wajeeh is a law student with a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from King’s College London. Wajeeh has ranked as one of the top speakers at the Oxford IV and the European University Debate Championships, and has competed in the outrounds of WUDC, the Yale IV and Doxbridge. As an adjudicator, Wajeeh has chaired the grand finals of the Yale IV as well as outrounds at Australs, UADC, NAUDC and the LSE Open. Wajeeh has served on the adjudication core of the Hart House IV, the LSE IV and UCLA IV and is the current equity officer of the World Universities Debating Council.

Zach Bloom

Zach is pursuing an Honours Philosophy Major at the University of British Columbia. 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.