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 youth in Boston.
BPS Member Schools
Boston Public Schools (BPS) has invested substantially in debate and is our partner and the institutional home for the League. BPS serves a large and diverse student population; 85% are students of color and 72% quality to receive free or reduced price lunch.
Another Course to College
Boston Green Academy
Boston International High School (English and Spanish teams)
Boston Latin Academy
Brighton High School
Burke High School
Charlestown High School (English and Spanish teams)
East Boston High School (English and Spanish teams)
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
English High School (English and Spanish teams)
Excel High School
Fenway High School
Josiah Quincy Upper School
Margarita Muniz Academy (English and Spanish teams)
New Mission High School/Boston Community Leadership Academy
West Roxbury Academy/Urban Science Academy
William Henderson Inclusion School
Boston Green Academy
Boston Latin Academy
Boston Teachers Union School
Clarence Edwards Middle School
Irving Middle School
Joseph Lee K-8
Josiah Quincy Upper School
McCormack Middle School
Mission Hill K-8
Timilty Middle School
Young Achievers K-8
Boston Debate League Staff
Mike Wasserman, Executive Director
Mike Wasserman serves as the Executive Director of the Boston Debate League. Prior to joining the BDL, Mike served in leadership roles at Bottom Line for 10 years, an organization that provides mentoring and support to help students get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life. For the last 4 years of his time at Bottom Line, Mike served as the Massachusetts Executive Director, where he led the organization through a dramatic and unprecedented period of growth. Outside of work, Mike is the co-founder of a non-profit collaborative effort called the Marathon Coalition, helping hundreds of runners raise millions of dollars annually for local non-profits by running the Boston Marathon. He also serves on the Board of Noonan Scholars, an organization helping students succeed in college. He has a BA from Brown University and an MBA in non-profit management from Boston University. Mike was a high school debater, a debate coach in the Providence Public Schools, and a supporter of the BDL for years before joining the team. Mike lives in Boston.
Kristen Bonstein, Director of After-School Programs
Kristen Bonstein is the Director of After-School Programs of the Boston Debate League. Kristen joined the BDL in August 2015 as the Middle School Program Manager for the After-School Debate League, and she was promoted to the role of the Director of the department in February 2017. Kristen was born in New Jersey and lived for several years in Atlanta and Brooklyn before settling in the wonderful city of Boston. She earned a BA in Theatre Arts from Drew University and a MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College and is passionate about the role arts education plays in youth development. Kristen spent five years as a school administrator, serving as Director of Operations at MATCH Middle School and on the founding staff of an all-girls’ grade 6-12 NYC public school, where she taught drama, cultivated partnerships, and directed enrichment activities. Most recently, Kristen spent three years developing in- and out-of-school time learning experiences for the international ArtScience Prize program.
Roger Nix, After-School Program Manager
Roger Nix joined the Boston Debate League as a staff member in July 2015. Previously, he was a head debate coach for the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (EMK) for its inaugural three seasons in the BDL. Roger also served as an EBA Teacher Leader while teaching tenth and eleventh grade math at EMK. During his five years at EMK, Roger heavily promoted student involvement in after school activities by founding and coaching the track and field and baseball teams, and by teaching in extracurricular programs such as MCAS Prep, SAT Prep, and Northeastern University’s Bridge to Calculus. Roger holds a M.Ed. from Boston College and a B.S. in Mathematics from Northeastern University. He is also licensed to teach English as a Second Language (5-12), Moderate Special Needs (5-12), and Secondary Math (8-12).
Rane Baldwin, After-School Program Manager
After deciding as a senior in high school that she was done with policy debate forever, Rane began coaching debate at the local high school while a student at Grinnell College. She received a B.A. in History and Social Studies licensure before pursuing a Masters of Secondary Education at UMass Boston through the Boston Teacher Residency. Having taught in Boston for four years and coached within the BDL for two, Rane was pleased to join the After-School Debate League team as a Program Manager in 2016. Originally from Kansas, Rane now lives in Jamaica Plain, where she is frequently spotted walking her dachshund.
Michelle Barry, Volunteer Coordinator
Michelle joined the Boston Debate League in August 2014, and is responsible for the recruitment and retention of the volunteer tournament judges. Prior to joining the BDL, Michelle served as the Civic Engagement Analyst AmeriCorps VISTA to Citizen Schools National Headquarters in Boston. There, she was responsible for creating programs that engaged, mobilized, and sustained volunteer retention on a large scale. At the BDL, Michelle engages citizens from around the community in the debate league to bolster student success.
Yamit Yapor, Volunteer Coordinator
Yamit joined the Boston Debate League staff in January 2016. He focuses on developing and maintaining partnerships with colleges / universities in the Boston area to recruit volunteer judges. Throughout his outreach, Yamit recruits volunteers at various levels of experience, with a focus on identifying and recruiting Spanish-speaking volunteers. Prior to joining the BDL, he worked in higher education for numerous years within Student Activities and Alumni Relations roles. Yamit was born and raised in New York City, where he earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Mercy College. He later moved to Connecticut where he earned an M.S. in National Security & Public Safety from the University of New Haven. Yamit is an avid sports-lover and enjoys the city of Boston, but being that he is a native of New York City, there is one topic he has accepted will always be the basis for heated debates: the better sports teams.
Marisa Suescun, Director of EBA Programs
Marisa is the Director of Evidence-Based Argumentation 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. Later, 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.
Sarah Mayper, EBA Instructional Coach
Sarah Mayper, Ed.D. is a veteran teacher with more than 20 years of experience working in public schools. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University, an M.Ed in Language, Literacy, and Culture from Stanford University, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching from Boston University, where her research focused on students with disabilities in the Boston Public Schools. She is a Fellow of the California Arts Project, where she taught teachers from across the state in all four arts disciplines, and contributed to early drafts of the California State Standards in arts education. She has extensive experience as a teacher educator, leading professional development in mathematics, arts integration, literacy across the curriculum, and differentiation. She recently completed an administrative internship at the Harbor School in Dorchester, part of Boston Public Schools’ pioneering development of a full-inclusion K-12 school serving students with and without disabilities.
Kimberly Willingham, EBA Instructional Coach
Kimberly Willingham, an Instructional Coach for BDL’s Evidence-Based Argumentation Initiative, has served public school students and their families in a number of capacities. Most recently, she was Assistant Principal and Interim Co-Principal of a Level 5 School in Boston. Previously, Kimberly worked at Education Development Center, Inc. providing public school districts across the country with technical assistance and comprehensive reviews of special education programs and settings. Her work was especially focused on the implementation of multi-tiered systems of academic and behavioral support and expanding inclusive schooling practices. Kimberly also has experience creating in-person and web-based professional development opportunities for teachers, school leaders, and district administrators; and managing youth programs and parent engagement initiatives. Kimberly began her career in education as a 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Eastern Michigan University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, respectively.
José Colo, EBA Instructional Coach
José Colo serves as an Instructional Coach for BDL’s Evidence-Based Argumentation Initiative. Prior to joining the BDL, José served as Dean of Instruction at a high performing charter school in Dallas, Texas. Previously, José worked as a high school teacher for a number of years in the West Side of Chicago. His work as a teacher and school leader has focused on the creation of curriculum that is culturally relevant, centered on 21st century tasks, and driven by the Jesuit motto of Cura Peronalis. He has a BA from Loyola Marymount University and expects to receive a Masters in International Educational Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2017. José was a high school debater and coach during high school and in 2009 he led the Dallas team to win 1st place at the Great Debate Tournament hosted by the National Hispanic Institute. José is a fervent advocate of education and the power of language, hoping to close the education gap that plagues this nation within his lifetime.
Vernée Wilkinson, Director of Communications and Community Programming
Vernée Wilkinson joined the Boston Debate League by way of her community-focused experience, including roles with Boston Main Streets, Boston City Council, and Boston Public Schools. Vernée is driven by creativity and community, and she owned a children’s gift and clothing store in the neighborhood of Roslindale. She is a proud Marketing and Communications Alum of Emerson College. At the BDL, Vernee oversees external communications and partnerships will value-aligned community partners. Vernée enjoys family time, including but not limited to, movie matinees, RVMS Farmers’ Market days and relaxing Cape Cod beach days.
Kimberly Bartlett-Ra, Director of Operations
Kimberly joined the Boston Debate League as the Director of Operations in July 2015. In this role, Kimberly manages the human resources, finance, and IT functions of the organization. Previously, Kimberly was the founding Director of Operations at Brooke Charter School’s Mattapan campus for four years. Kimberly’s prior experience includes working at a small company in Chicago providing outdoor adventure and service summer programs for teenagers and working at a nonprofit social enterprise organization in San Francisco providing job training and job placement services to adults with mental health disabilities. Kimberly earned her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and her Master of Business Administration from Yale University. Kimberly also completed two terms of service with AmeriCorps*NCCC in the Southeast Region.
Ranner Faugas, Operations Associate
Ranner is an alumnus of the BDL After-School Debate League. Ranner has maintained a strong relationship with the BDL over the last several years, and he served as a lead intern at the organization during the summer of 2014. Ranner joined the BDL as a full-time staff member in June 2015 after graduating from UMASS Boston with a degree in Economics and Philosophy. Ranner is the Operations Associate, working closely with the Director of Operations to provide HR and IT support to staff and to manage financial recording and processing.
Alicia Adamson, Director of Philanthropy & External Affairs
Alicia Adamson serves as the Director of Philanthropy & External Affairs at the Boston Debate League. She brings 10+ years of experience in nonprofit leadership, development, special events and marketing. Alicia is an authentic and passionate leader who galvanizes teams around a shared vision to achieve desired outcomes. She is committed to closing the opportunity gap for the next generation of leaders and empowering individuals to make an impact in their communities! Prior to joining the Boston Debate League, Alicia served as Senior Director at United Way of Mas Bay, successfully raising millions and transforming the philanthropic impact of donors. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Alicia worked in product and brand marketing roles for both Reebok International and Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions. For over a decade Alicia has inspired hundreds of young women from all walks of life while serving as founder emeritus of the National Black Women’s Society Inc. (Formally YBWS) and guest speaker at conferences, local schools and universities, nonprofits and churches. She currently serves as a member of the Mayor Walsh’s Women’s Commission. Alicia is a proud graduate of Simmons College School of Management, with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Divinity at Gordon Conwell Seminary and writing a book due in 2016. She resides in Boston with her loving husband and sons.
Kimberly Perrella, Grants Manager
Kimberly Perrella is the Grants Manager for BDL, writing grant proposals and working with the family and corporate foundations that support the organization and its mission. She joined BDL in November 2015 and was previously a Grant Writer for Catholic Charities of Boston. She earned her B.A. in English and Communication from SUNY Geneseo and her M.S. in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University. She also completed three years of service: in Rochester AmeriCorps teaching youth media programs, as a middle school tutor in the MATCH Corps, and at Reading Partners NYC training volunteers to be effective reading tutors for struggling students.
Agostinha Depina, Development Coordinator
Agostinha Depina joined the Boston Debate League staff in October 2016 as a Development Coordinator after graduating from U Mass Boston with a degree in Communications. She supports the Boston Debate League’s philanthropy efforts in attaining, retaining, and growing funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations by providing donor relations and operational support. Agostinha is bound and determined to give back and positively impact her community through her dedication to nonprofit organizations (such as Bottom Line, Citizen Schools, Teen Voices, and Let’s Get Ready) and philanthropy. She is a Jazz and spoken word poetry enthusiast with a chocolate obsession.
Board of Directors
John Isaacson (Chair): President, Isaacson Miller
Carol Bahr: Senior Vice President, State Street Bank and Trust
Mary Dibinga: English Teacher and Debate Coach, Boston Latin Academy
Milind Godbole: Managing Director and Vice-President, Sapient
Elbert Hardeman: Business Manager, The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Alan Halfenger: ACA Compliance
Kevin O’Laughlin: Principal, KPMG
Matt Schnall: Partner, WilmerHale