Ryan Galloway is the Director of Debate at Samford University. One of the most well respected coaches and judges in the country, Galloway won the 2013 Ziegemueller coach of the year award at the National Debate Tournament. He has also judged the final round of the National Debate Tournament a record eight times and was named the third best judge of the 2000-2010 decade. He has coached several NDT qualifiers, and has coached teams to the deep elimination rounds of every major tournament in the country, including CEDA Nationals and the National Debate Tournament. As a debater, he received two first round bids to the NDT, and won numerous top speaker awards, including at the University of Kentucky and ADA Nationals. He is excited to be directing the institute and working with the policy lab.
Lee Quinn is the Assistant Director Debate at Samford University and the Head Coach of the Altamont School. Since joining Samford last year, Lee has coached Samford to back-to-back NDT tournaments. His debaters have won multiple speaker awards, including Top Speaker at the Mary Washington Tournament in the 2019-2020 year. And at Altamont this past year, his teams have won two top speaker awards and won three tournaments. As a high school debater, Lee qualified to the Tournament of Champions three times in policy debate and won the Barkley Forum for Mountain Brook High School. And in college at Wake Forest, Lee attended the Kentucky Round Robin twice, the Dartmouth Round Robin, was a two-time NDT qualifier and won Top Speaker at the American Debate Association National Tournament.
Natalie Bennie is a graduate of Samford University and received her M.A. in Communication at Wake Forest University. She currently coaches the Wake Forest University debate team and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Communication at Pennsylvania State University. In 2016, she was the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to Germany, where she taught English through public speaking and debate. Natalie has extensive experience in debate as both a debater and a coach. As a coach, in addition to her present position at Wake Forest, she has taught high school students at multiple highly-regarded summer debate institutes in the U.S., including programs at University of Michigan, Emory, Wake Forest University, and the Washington D.C. Urban Debate League. This year will be Natalie’s seventh summer at the Samford Debate Institute, where she regularly leads labs and serves as the girls’ dorm director. As a student debater, she began her career as a Public Forum competitor and continued on to become a successful policy debater at Samford. There, she was in the out-rounds of several major tournaments, qualified for the NDT, and was selected for the US National Debate Team tour of Japan in 2015.
Sarah Emerson is an incoming Junior on Samford’s Debate Team, though she is originally from Columbia, Missouri. She has debated for five years on the topics domestic surveillance, domestic and/or economic engagement with China, primary and/or secondary education, presidential powers, and international space policy. As a first year, at 17, Sarah qualified for the National Debate Tournament, was second place at the District Six Tournament, and in the Doubles of the ADA Nationals. Throughout the year she beat teams from Harvard, Emory and Wake Forest. This past year, Sarah qualified to the NDT again, was top speaker at multiple tournaments, and was in out rounds of several tournaments beating top teams from Northwestern, Kentucky, and Georgetown. Additionally, Sarah has worked multiple summer debate institutes that have led to successful seasons for both policy and Lincoln-Douglas debaters.
Charles Karcher debated for Sarasota (Florida) High School and graduated in 2018. He currently attends the University of Florida, where he studies English and International Relations. As a lone-wolf competitor, he reached late elimination rounds at tournaments including the Sunvitational, Florida Blue Key and Holy Cross. Since graduating, he has been actively involved in coaching and judging around the national LD circuit, including for Altamont (AL) and Cypress Bay (FL). Charles serves as the Director of the Lincoln-Douglas of the Florida Blue Key Invitational. His debate interests include policy arguments, critical theory and promoting small-school debate. Outside of debate, Charles is involved with research at UF and loves to read and travel. This will be his second summer teaching at the Samford Debate Institute.
Joey Tarnowski is an incoming first-year at Samford. Joey competed in Lincoln-Douglas for St. Pius X high school and graduated in 2020 after attaining the #1 rank in Georgia throughout his junior and senior year. He made it to elimination rounds of NSDA nationals and multiple bid tournaments throughout his junior and senior year, including Florida Blue Key and University of Kentucky. Joey primarily specializes in policy and theory arguments, while also having extensive experience in traditional Lincoln Douglas.Anne Greer is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University. Anne competed in Lincoln-Douglas Debate for three years in high school and is now a student at Georgetown University, where she is entering her second year of collegiate policy debate. In high school, she became successful on the local circuit, winning many tournaments throughout Georgia and qualifying to the NSDA national tournament. In her first year of college debate, Anne qualified to the National Debate Tournament, becoming one of the few freshmen to do so.
Public Forum Lab
Coach Elizabeth Wood-Weas teaches speech and debate at Mountain Brook High School and Mountain Brook Junior High School. In 2018, her team won the National Middle School Public Forum tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Throughout her career, her students have qualified to the University of Kentucky’s elite Tournament of Champions, and they annually represent the state of Alabama as qualifiers at the national tournament. She and her team travel extensively throughout the year to compete in the country’s top tournaments, including the Harvard University and Stanford University tournaments. As a former policy debater herself, she enjoys teaching and coaching Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum events for students in grades 7 through 12. She has served as president of the Alabama Speech and Debate Association, chair for the Deep South District committee, and as a member of the National Speech and Debate Association's middle school curriculum committee. She has an Education Leadership degree, a masters degree in Education, and bachelors degrees in Mass Communications and English. During the school year, she also works as a content specialist for the University of Montevallo, mentoring soon-to-be teachers in the edTPA process.
Jim Sydnor is the head coach for SpeakFirst's high school debate team. He debated successfully in the national circuit through high school and in college for Gonzaga University and CSU - Fullerton. As a college debater Jim won the Northwestern Regional Debate Tournament at Whitman College, was the top speaker at the California state tournament, a finalist at UC - Berkeley, and an octofinalist at CEDA Nationals, placing individually in the top 15 speakers. Before SpeakFirst Jim coached for Mountain Brook High School and Mercer Island High School, both of which boasted highly successful, nationally competitive teams.
Caitlyn Jones competed for four years for Speakfirst in Birmingham, Alabama, in public forum debate. Currently, she competes for the Forensics Council at the University of Alabama. This is Caitlyn’s second summer working at the Samford Debate Institute, and she is incredibly excited to work with you this summer!