Staff for MDAW 2014

2014 Minnesota Debate and Advocacy Workshop Faculty and Administrators

Dr. David Cram Helwich, Camp Director: Dave is the Director of Debate at the University of Minnesota. He has been actively involved in debate for over 20 years, including the last 15 as a full-time college coach, where he has cleared teams at almost every major intercollegiate tournament, including the NDT. He also has considerable high school and collegiate institute experience, including founding two high school debate workshops (MDAW and the Wyoming Forensics Institute) and serving as a lab leader for the past 14 summers.

Adriane Brown: Adriane Brown is Assistant Professor and Director of Women’s Studies and Director of the Women’s Resource Center. She is proud to note that all three of her degrees are in Women’s Studies and fully believes in the value of the interdisciplinary, intersectional modes of inquiry which characterize Women’s Studies as a field. Adriane is also a policy debate coach for the Edina High School Debate team.

Thorn Chen: Thorn (Hongwei) Chen previously coached for Humboldt High School in Saint Paul and at Stuyvesant High School in New York where he led teams to elimination rounds at the New York State Tournament and NFL Nationals. He also worked as a lab leader at The New York Urban Debate League’s Coalition Institute and Training Initiative (CITI). In high school, Thorn was a New York State Finalist and reached elimination rounds at national tournaments such as Emory. He continued to debate for Dartmouth College was in the elimination rounds of several tournaments including CEDA Nationals and Cap Cities. Thorn is currently working on his PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota.

Ignacio Evans: Iggie is a Black UDL debater who hails from Baltimore that debated for 7 years, including Towson University. In those 7 years Iggie debated at the highest levels, finishing 4th internationally at the IDEA forum. In college debate Iggie cleared at Ceda 3 times and was a 2 time NDT participant and qualifier. Iggie has been able to pass on his love of debate with prior teaching at the Baltimore UDL summer camp and the Houston UDL summer camp. He is excited to return to the MDAW for a 3rd summer.

Amber Kelsie: Amber is a Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh, debated at Dartmouth, and has previously coached Urban Debate League teams in New York City as well as directed New York’s Urban Debate League summer institute. Some of Amber’s favorite arguments are performance based as well as kritiques based on identity politics. We are delighted to have Amber as a part of our team!

George Lee: George Lee is a Senior at University of Oklahoma majoring in African & African American Studies born and raised in Bryan, TX. George walked onto the OU policy debate team as true novice in 2010 and 2011 he was a CEDA Octafinalist. This year George Lee and his debate partner received a first round bid to The NDT and were quarter finalists at the tournament. George is excited to join the MDAW!

Martin Osborne: Martin Osborn proudly hails from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Debating for Cheyenne East High School, “Ozzy” and his partner took 7th at NFL Nationals and were a part of the first and only TOC-qualifying class from Wyoming. Thankful for the opportunities provided by high school debate, Ozzy has made a habit of working for summer debate institutes including: Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas, North Texas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Wyoming, and Missouri State. As a college debater at Southwest Missouri State, Ozzy was fortunate enough to be recognized with competitive success and community support. Ozzy qualified to the National Debate Tournament four times including once by way of first-round bid. At his final NDT, Ozzy advanced to the semi-finals (which SMS had not done for over 30 years prior) and was awarded Top Speaker. Ozzy also made Top Speaker and the semis at his final CEDA Nationals tournament, which further distinguished him as the “Baby Jo” Debater of the Year.

Rohan Sadagopol: Rohan will be returning for his 5th summer at the MDAW. He currently coaches at Minneapolis South and is a debater at the University of Minnesota. He previously debated and worked for Edina. In his time at South and Edina, he has coached teams to elimination rounds and speaker awards at most tournaments attended, including qualifying teams to both NFL Nationals and the TOC. As a debater for the University of Minnesota, he advanced to elimination rounds at the NDT. He enjoys teaching through sports and music analogies, with any student in his lab sure to learn that practice is truly not a game.

Mike Steffan: Mike will be returning for his fourth summer at MDAW. While in college, he debated for the University of Minnesota’s new debate team. He has coached debate for seven years, four at Wayzata High School and three at Patrick Henry High School. While at Wayzata, he helped coach teams to TOC bid rounds and out rounds at several national tournaments. As head coach of Patrick Henry, his debaters qualified to the Minnesota State Debate tournament for the first two times in 54 years.

Middle School Camp

David Song, Program Manager: David Song is the Program Manager of the Minnesota Urban Debate League, and will be the lead teacher for the Middle School camp. David served on the Illinois High School Association’s Debate State Final Committee from 2009-2013 and also served as the Debate Chair on the Board of the Illinois Speech and Theater Association (now Illinois Communications and Theater Association), a professional educators’ organization housed at Illinois State University. David was the Director of Debate at Oak Park and River Forest High School and policy debate coach at Evanston Township High School.

Art of Persuasion

Zach Prax, Co-Lead Teacher for the Art of Persuasion Camp: Zach teaches social studies and coaches speech and debate at Chanhassen High School. He received his M.A. in Education from the University of St. Thomas and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In his decade of coaching, Zach’s students have qualified to the NFL National Tournament in United States and International Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, and Public Forum Debate and have cleared at many national invitationals, reaching the final round of NFL Nationals, NCFL Nationals, the Glenbrooks, Emory, the MSHSL State Debate Tournament, and the MDTA Novice/JV State Tournament. Zach serves as the District Chair of the Central Minnesota District of the National Forensic League, the Director of the Winona Diocese of the National Catholic Forensic League, and the Secretary of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association.

Andy Charrier, Co-Lead Teacher for the Art of Persuasion Camp: Andy is a long-time Minnesota coach of both debate and speech.  He is currently the head debate coach at Edina High School, having previously coached at Lakeville North and South, South St. Paul, and St. Francis.  As a student competitor in policy debate he won both the Minnesota state tournament and the NFL national tournament. Students he has coached have won Minnesota state championships, NFL national championships, CFL national championships, in addition invitationals such as Apple Valley and Glenbrooks.  He has been named MDA Coach of The Year and is a 3-diamond NFL coach. Andy believes in an egalitarian and empowering philosophy of coaching that values each student equally.

Residential and Community Life

Mai Yer Vang, Director of Residential Life: Mai Yer is a graduate of Augsburg College and St. Paul Central High School.  While at Augsburg she held numerous leadership positions – including starting and becoming the president of the Augsburg Asian Student Association.  Mai Yer taught English in Japan for the two years through the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) program; as a part of this program she also coached and judged English Debate Tournaments. She is currently an AmeriCorps VISTA member for the City of Saint Paul VISTA Program.

Alix Dahl, Residential Assistant: Alix is completing her sophomore year at Hamline University and is a graduate of Roseville High School. Alix debated for Roseville High School and has served as assistant coach over the past year. Alix is also an alumni of MDAW and is excited to join the staff for her second year.

Marie Sheehan, Residential Assistant: Marie has completed her first year at Wooster College in Wooster, OH. She debated all four years of high school and also served as an assistant coach for Highland Jr. High the last two years. Marie was also a recipient of the 2013 MNUDL Tamar Kaplan Sr. Leadership Award and a semi-finalist at the 2013 Minnesota State High School Tournament.

Lucas Smith, Residential Assistant: Lucas is a coach at Washington Techonology Magnet school, and is a student at Macalester College.

Ayaan Natala, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of Central High School

Blaize DePass, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of Washington Technology Magnet School

Haley Larsen, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of South High School

Lillie Ouellette-Howitz, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of South High School

Ruby DeBellis, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of Jefferson High School

Yassin Ahmed, Junior Residential Assistant: 2014 graduate of Como Park High School

Administrative Staff

Amy Cram Helwich, Executive Director: Amy is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League, and the administrative director for camp. Amy is the person to talk to about scholarships, registration, and general questions about camp. During camp, Amy is the person to talk to you if you are having trouble reaching your child or if you want to take your child off campus for a dinner out or other appointment. This will be her fifth MDAW. Amy has over 12 years in non-profit management and youth development, prior experience including: Women’s Foundation of MN, Children’s Safety Centers, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration, a B.S. in Political Science, and debated in both high school and college.

David Song, Program Manager: David Song is the Program Manager of the Minnesota Urban Debate League, and will be the lead teacher for the Middle School camp.  David comes to the MNUDL after five years of programming experience managing debate competitions and teacher training with the Chicago Debate League, during which the nation’s largest urban debate league doubled in size. David served on the Illinois High School Association’s Debate State Final Committee from 2009-2013 and also served as the Debate Chair on the Board of the Illinois Speech and Theater Association (now Illinois Communications and Theater Association), a professional educators’ organization housed at Illinois State University. David was the Director of Debate at Oak Park and River Forest High School and policy debate coach at Evanston Township High School. He has coached six students to the Illinois High School Association All-State Team; coached students to team awards at the National Forensic League Nationals; qualified seven teams to the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions; and coached students who  finished first place overall as individual debate speakers at national competitions at Harvard University and the University of Michigan.