Summer Debate Institute
Giving Tomorrow's Leaders a Voice 
by Training Students to Debate 
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The SDI Staff!
One of the best parts about the Summer Debate Institute is the excellent staff.
Our staff includes college debaters and young professionals from across the country with extensive experience at both the high school and collegiate levels.  (Here is a listing of some past SDI staff)
2011 Staff Biographies
Diana Wolfson - SDI Director

After receiving a B.A. in English and Philosophy, Diana earned her M. Ed. in Instructional Leadership.  She was a former high school English teacher who left the public school system to stay home with her children.  Diana home educated her two sons, Jonathan and Benjamin, through high school.   

As one of the founders and the Director of Chicago CHARGE Speech and Debate Club, Diana has coached many nationally ranked debate and speech competitors in a variety of leagues and competitions.  

Diana has been involved in the high school speech and debatesince 1999.  On the NCFCA national level, Diana has served NCFCA as the Illinois State Representative for 3 years and the NCFCA Region 6 Coordinator for more than 5 years. Diana is currently a member of the Board of Directors for STOA speech and debate.

This is the 8th year Diana has directed the Summer Debate Institute. 

Currently, Diana is the Executive Director of the Association for Lifelong Communicators, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “give tomorrow’s leaders a voice.”

Kirby Gowen

High school Experience/Awards: Kirby Gowen has been involved in competitive speech and debate for 9 years. During junior high and high school Kirby debated for five years and competed in individual events for three. Kirby qualified for the NCFCA National Championship four times in Team Policy, earning 10th place team (2005) and 5th place team (2006) at the national level. Kirby was undefeated in prelims and twice declined breaking to out rounds at two LD qualifiers in the 2007 debate season. In the last two years Kirby has joined the world of collegiate debate competing in the NPDA with the Grove City College debate team.

Coaching experience: Kirby started coaching during his varsity years of high school debate. Working with his home club, Modesto Debate, he performed functions such as critiquing rounds and tutoring novices. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 Kirby worked at Santa Clara University’s summer debate camp as a team policy TA, LD lecturer, and Ultimate Frisbee organizer. This will be Kirby’s fourth year teaching at the Summer Debate Institute.        

Quotation: Anarchy is better than no government at all” –Bumper Sticker  

Note from Kirby: I love debate. I love LD. Given an opportunity to spend five whole days working with students on debate; I wouldn’t miss it. This should be a great camp and I’m looking forward to meeting you all. Oh, and one last thing: for all those people that say “LD” stands for “Loser’s Debate”. Well. We’ll show them. 

Renee Jorgensen

High school Experience/Awards: Renee competed in Policy debate for six years, earning many California championships and a number of national awards, including 5th Team Policy (2002), 4th Combined Sweepstakes (2002), Impromptu Champion (2004), and Extemporaneous Champion (2004, GSAACS). In college debate, she and her partner quarter-finaled at NCCFI Nationals (2007), and placed 3rd at the Biola Invitational (2007).

College: Renee graduated Summa Cum Laude from Biola University in December '09 with a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Studio Art, and is currently enrolled in a Masters Degree in Philosophy at Northern Illinois University.

Current Forensic Experience: Renee competed in college forensics for two years, then started putting the skills to more practical uses: her presentation skills won the Outstanding Thesis of the Year award from the Biola Philosophy Department in '09; she worked for three years as an LSAT instructor for Kaplan, and spent one year as an advertising assistant (yes, just like in MadMen). 

Coaching Experience: Renee has been teaching debate for a depressingly long time: 8 years. She taught several introductory classes in California, coached for CLASH, toured as an instructor for Communicators for Christ in 2004, taught at several Masters Conferences and fifteen Forensics camps for schools such as Santa Clara University, Biola University, Heritage Christian School & Green Valley High School. This will be her sixth year as an instructor at SDI.  

Quotation: "Much to cast down, much to build, much to restore; Let the work not delay, time and arm not waste; Let the clay be dug from the pit, let the saw cut the stone, Let the fire not be quenched in the forge." -Choruses from the Rock, T.S. Eliot 

Note from Renee: C'mon- you know you look forward to SDI all year, so be there or be square.

Jason Lam

Forensic Experience:  Jason competed in NCFCA debate for five years (TP 4, LD 1) and speech for four. He competed at the NCFCA National Championship in debate four years, broke three of those years, and received speaker awards two of those years.  In 2008 Jason won first place in both Apologetics and Original Oratory at the NCFCA National Championship.  And, he served as the Chicago CHARGE debate team Captain for two years.  

Afterwards: Jason is currently attending Texas Christian University majoring in Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science and with a minor in Economics. Forensic experience garnered an easy A in basic speech and just about made the teacher faint with back to back speeches defending the awesomeness of salt and math. 

Quotation: "Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent." ~Thank You For Smoking 

Note from Jason: I've been to SDI seven times, four times as a student and last three years as part of the staff and am excited to pass along what I've learned.

I've always thought Cyrillic script looked really cool. Now I get to put all your outlines in it :D

Kristi Lam

High school Experience/Awards: Kristi competed in NCFCA for three years, qualifying for the NCFCA National Championship each year in debate. She also qualified in extemporaneous speaking twice and added original oratory, humorous interpretation, and open interpretation when she was a senior. At the 2005 National tournament, she ranked eleventh place team and third place speaker. She was the 2004-2005 debate captain of Chicago CHARGE. 

College: Graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a bachelor's degree in TV/Video Production and Communication Studies 

Current Forensic Experience: While job hunting may not be forensic, it does involve researching, persuasiveness, organization, note taking, and logic--the only thing that's missing is official competition. And maybe a trophy. 

Coaching Experience: 5 years of club and SDI training. 

Quotation: "You are a mocha frappuccino. Hyper and driven, you'll take your caffeine any way you can get it. Your pirate name is Captain Mistress of Death" -

Note from Kristi: "The staff has been working hard and the schedule is looking amazing—this is going to be a great SDI. I can't imagine a better way to kick start the debate year and I'm excited to see you soon!"

Jacob Quan

High school Experience/Awards: Jacob competed and coached extensively in high school, beginning with several first place speaker awards in his freshman year and continuing with equal success. He qualified for nationals in both team policy and Lincoln-Douglas debate as well as several speech events and coached many nationally ranking debaters as well. 

College: 4th year Political Science Major at UCLA  

Current Forensic Experience: None in college, but the skills I learned have been invaluable in helping me as one of the directors of the Special Olympics at UCLA Program, as well as one of the leaders of the UCLA Taekwondo Team.  

Coaching Experience: Competed three years in team debate and speech and one year in Lincoln Douglas. Coaching began during my Lincoln Douglas year, and continued all through high school, so four years total of coaching.  

Quotation: John Wooden "The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move." 

Note from Jacob: Excited to come to SDI. Hopefully we'll have a lot of learning, and perhaps a bit of fun too.

Heather Zupancic

Bio: In high school Heather competed in NCFCA for five years. For the past two years, she has attended the college of DuPage and has competed for their forensics team. She and her debate partner received silver medals at both the 2008 and 2009 Phi Rho Pi National Championships. Heather recently graduated from North Central College with a degree in Organizational Communication.
Coaching Experience: This will be Heather's fourth year teaching at SDI. She also has coached the Chicago CHARGE team for the past four years. 
Quotation: “It's quite simple, (public speaking) Say what you have to say and when you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending, sit down” ~Winston Churchill 
Note from Heather: "I absolutely love teaching debate! It’s just great seeing all of you guys become more confident communicators as a result of this camp. I had awesome fun at SDI when I was in high school and I know you all will have an amazing time too. So come prepared to meet awesome people, have crazy good times, and learn a whole lot about environmental policy! Can't wait to see you all there! =)

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