Who We Are
The Boston Debate League brings together an active community of students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders devoted to improving the education and life skills of disadvantaged urban youth in Boston.
Boston Public Schools
Boston Public Schools (BPS), who serves a large and diverse student population that is 85% students of color and 72% free or reduced cost lunch, has invested substantially in debate, and is our partner and the institutional home for the League.
The League is championed by Reverend Gregory G. Groover, Chair of the Boston School Committee, Dr. Carol R. Johnson, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools.
Schools in the After School Debate League:
Boston Latin Academy – Headmaster, Emilia Pastor; Coaches: David Barry, Paul Eaton, Kellyanne Mahoney
Brighton High School – Headmaster, Fred McDowell; Coaches: Paula Bowles, Michael McKittrick, Michele Pellam, and Katie Shaller
Charlestown High School – Headmaster, Ranny Bledsoe; Coaches: James Soares and Sylvia Witlin
Clarence Edwards Middle School – Headmaster, Robert Rametti
Dorchester Academy – Headmaster, Kwesi Moody; Coaches: Joshua Nixon and Brian Rothbaum
East Boston High School – Headmaster, Michael Rubin; Coaches: Patrick Morse, John Rolfe, Passionette Squire
Edward M.Kennedy Academy for the Health Careers – Headmaster, Dr. Caren Walker Gregory; Coaches: Carolyn Barrows, Laura Boston, Roger Nix
Eliot K-8 School – Principal Traci Walker-Griffith ; Coaches: David Glinner and Andrew Rollins
English High School – Headmaster, Ligia Noriega-Murphy; Coaches: Mike Caprigno, Karen Wong, and Emily Trono
Excel High School – Headmaster, Stephanie Sibley; Coaches: Michael Harris, Michael Liang, and Dan Ordorica, Lisa Pred-Sosa
Fenway High School – Headmaster, Dr. Peggy Kemp;
Jeremiah Burke High School – Headmaster, Lindsa McIntyre; Coaches: Antonio Arvelo, Sonya Crocker, Kristina Keller-Bianchi, Gene Lee
Josiah Quincy Upper School – Headmaster, Dr. Bak Fun Wong; Coach: Rachel Bradshaw, Kristina Buenafe
McCormack Middle School – Headmaster, Michael Sabin;
New Mission High School / BCLA – Headmaster Nia Wilson; Coaches: Bristol Konjoian, Ravi Singh, Emily Silas, Van Vuong
Tech Boston Academy – Co-Headmasters Keith Love and Nora Vernazza; HS Coaches: Tony Chiariello, Sandra Derstine-Desai; MS Coaches: Lisa Renzi and Caeli Smith
Timilty Middle School – Principal Valerie Lowe-Barehmi; Coaches: Teresa Knoess and Haley Smith
Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy– Headmasters Nicole Gittens and Rudy Weekes; Coaches: Alan Humbert, Margaret Moynihan, and Erich Mueller
Washington Irving Middle School – Principal Arthur Unobsky; Coaches: Cleata Brown and Cheryl Snyder-Samuels
Schools participating in the Evidence-Based Argumentation program:
Boston Adult Technical Academy
East Boston High School
Excel High School
Jeremiah Burke High School
Edward Kennedy Academy for Health Career
Steve Stein, Executive Director
Steve is the Executive Director of the Boston Debate League and has fifteen years of experience with urban debate leagues. He is a former nationally competitive high school and college debater and was a debate coach of one of the largest and most successful high school teams in the country. He holds a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and taught high school history for ten years. Mr. Stein was also the co-founder of the Atlanta Middle School Urban Debate league, has consulted with Urban Debate Leagues in Atlanta, Chicago, and Milwaukee, has worked at and directed numerous summer urban debate institutes, and conducted many coach training and professional development workshops for teachers and coaches.
Michelle Aghiarian, Administrative Associate
Michelle joined the Boston Debate League in February 2014 as the Administrative Associate. She is responsible for providing office administration support in areas such as development, programming, communications, and event logistics. Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has diverse internship and work experience ranging from academic peer advising at UMass Amherst to educating visitors at Old Sturbridge Village. She enjoys contributing to the positive impact Boston Debate League creates with the community.
Sarah Amaral, Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah is the Volunteer Coordinator of the Boston Debate League. Sarah has over five years experience with volunteer recruitment, training and management. Prior to joining the BDL team, Sarah worked in the Emergency Services department of the American Red Cross in Philadelphia, PA and Grand Rapids, MI. There, she identified critical needs and implemented strategic plans to increase volunteer involvement and external partnerships to assure clients received compassionate and timely emergency relief. With BDL, Sarah continues to do what she is truly passionate about. Her responsibilities include identifying staffing needs, recruitment and training of volunteers, and ensuring volunteers are enjoying their donated time. Sarah received her B.S. in Mathematics from Bridgewater State University and is a certified mathematics teacher.
Tanya Bogina, Director of Operations
Tanya joined the Boston Debate League in January 2012. She is responsible for developing systems and procedures aimed at improving the efficiency and scalability of BDL’s programs. Tanya brings more than five years of experience working in financial services at JPMorgan and Brown Brothers & Harriman. She received an MBA at Yale University’s School of Management and a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from Boston University.
Jake Campbell, Grants Manager
Jake joined the Boston Debate League in June 2011 and manages the BDL’s foundation grants. He has been involved with debate for more than twelve years, starting at his high school in South Dakota and continuing as a student at Boston University. After graduating with a degree in philosophy, he coached debate for four years between Brandeis University and Wellesley College and started volunteering as a mentor at New Mission High School with the BDL. Jake has run more than 50 debate tournaments and is also responsible for tabulation at BDL tournaments.
Brandon Finegold, Professional Development Coordinator
Brandon is a Professional Development Coordinator for the Evidence-Based Argumentation Initiative. Before joining the Boston Debate League, Brandon taught science for ten years in Boston Public Schools (nine at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School). His leadership roles included chairing the school Instructional Leadership Team, facilitating Collaborative Coaching and Learning cycles, serving as school data consultant, and developing curriculum through a partnership with Tufts Medical School. In 2002, Brandon earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University with a dual concentration in Biology and Sociology. In 2009, he earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from Simmons College.
Paul Madden, After-School Program Manager
Paul is the After School Debate League Coordinator for the Boston Debate League. Before assuming his current position with the League, Paul taught mathematics and physics and coached debate in both the Boston Public Schools and in South Dakota at an Oglala Lakota tribally chartered school. Previously, he has been involved with the Boston Debate League as a debate team coach, as a lead teacher and contributing author of mathematics and science activities for the Debate Across the Curriculum Program, a faculty member in the League’s summer institute, and as a committee member. In addition, he is a reviewer for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics journal, Mathematics Teacher and serves on Community Change Incorporated’s board of directors. He graduated from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in 2007 and from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education as a Donovan Urban Teaching Scholar with a Masters Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education in 2008.
Marisa Suescun, Director of Programs
Marisa is the Director of Programs at Boston Debate League. Marisa has spent the past 13 years working on behalf of public education equity through many avenues: she has taught students, trained teachers, coached youth leaders, facilitated organizations, and fostered community partnerships. She began her career teaching elementary school, as a member of the first cohort of NYC Teaching Fellows. She completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, and helped lead Coro’s Exploring Leadership program for NYC high school students. Most recently, Marisa worked with the T3 Initiative at Teach Plus in Boston, facilitating district and school partnerships in support of teacher leadership.
Veronica Switzer, Talent Acquisition Manager
Veronica is the Talent Acquisition Manager for the BDL. Her responsibilities include recruiting staff and identifying Board members that will support and grow the work of the BDL and curriculum development in Boston Public Schools. Veronica debated competitively in high school and continued debating competitively at the collegiate level while completing her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. Before joining BDL, Veronica worked as the International Programs Coordinator for a faith based non-profit in Boston. Before that, Veronica studied governance issues in Zambia on a Fulbright Fellowship.
Shannon Watson, After-School Program Manager
Shannon is the Program Manager for the Boston Debate League’s After School Debate League. Shannon has over 5 years’ experience working with urban debate leagues and developing youth. Her experience working with young people in the Atlanta Urban Debate League has inspired her efforts to educate students through debate. She is alum of the Baltimore Urban Debate League and received a debate scholarship to Georgia State University where she received her B.S. in Urban Policy. She is currently continuing her education at Northeastern University studying for her Master’s in Organizational and Corporate Communication
Board of Directors
John Isaacson (Chair): President, Isaacson Miller
Wes Alexander: Director of Employee Relations, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
Josh Alwitt: Vice President of Talent Development, Sapient Corporation
Marylin Chase: Retired, Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth, and Families, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Mary Dibinga: English Teacher, Boston Latin Academy
Gabe Fried (Treasurer): Chief Executive Officer, Hilco Steambank
Maureen Golga: Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick
Matt Schnall; Partner, Bingham McCutchen LLP