Meredith Aby-Keirstead
Meredith Aby-KeirsteadMS Congress Coach

Meredith Aby-Keirstead is a long time teacher and debate coach from Bloomington Public Schools and is currently teaching at Kennedy HS. She has experience coaching policy, Lincoln Douglas, public forum, and Congressional debate but is currently coaching Congressional debate. This is her first time coaching at this summer institute and she’s excited to work with middle school students and hopes to hook them on debate!

Melekh Akintola
Melekh AkintolaPolicy Debate Coach

Melekh Akintola is the interim Program Coordinator at the Minnesota Urban Debate League and is a proud policy debate alum of Roosevelt High School. Melekh has significant experience coaching policy debate, including most recently at Highland Park Senior High School!

Rachel Baumann
Rachel BaumannPolicy Debate Coach

Rachel Baumann, MA-T, is the head debate coach at Farmington High School. During her 20 years of coaching policy debate in Minnesota she has coached at Mankato East, Rosemount High School, and Forest Lake High School, Rachel has had students achieve competitive success at invitational, state and national levels. She also has considerable high school workshop experience, including developing curriculum and being on senior staff at Concordia College Summer Debate Institute and MDAW.

Maddie Cook
Maddie CookPublic Forum Coach

Maddie Cook has coached public forum at Lakeville North & Lakeville South High School in Minnesota since 2019. She has coached teams every season to qualify to NSDA Nationals, the Tournament of Champions, and the Minnesota State Tournament. She also teaches public forum and public speaking for multiple debate camps. Maddie graduated from UMN in 2022 with a degree in political science, where she also competed on and served as the Vice President of their NPDA team.

Amy Cram Helwich
Amy Cram HelwichCamp Director

Amy Cram Helwich has been the Executive Director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League since 2009 and brings 20 years of nonprofit management experience to her role. Amy competed in academic debate in both high school and college, and believes in its power to engage students and create pathways for academic success. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

Gursimrat Dahry
Gursimrat DahrySpeech Camp Coach

Gursimrat Dahry is a current competitor for the University of Minnesota Collegiate Speech team alongside coaching for Shakopee High School, MN. Throughout her high school career she received the opportunity to speak in national semifinal and final rounds at NIETOC and NSDA. Recently on the college circuit she became an AFA Extemp National Finalist and a NFA Impromptu National Champion. She is pursuing her B.S. and M.S. in Applied Economics.

Matthew Davis
Matthew DavisLincoln Douglas Debate Coach

Matthew Davis has been the director of Speech and Debate at St. Croix Preparatory Academy, as well as a ninth grade English teacher, for over ten years. He has coached multiple formats (LD, CX, PF, World Schools, Speech) and has also taught elective courses on speech and debate. He has coached students at the local, regional, and national level. His goal is to help students gain a stronger understanding and appreciation for the activity in an environment of positivity, while ensuring that students are better prepared to compete at whatever level they desire, be it beginner or advanced.

Grant Davis
Grant DavisCongressional Debate Coach

Grant Davis (he/they) is currently a senior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, studying Spanish and Political Science. Grant did Congressional Debate at Eagan High School from 2016-2019, competed in NPDA and PNW Debate for the University of Minnesota, and coaches Congress at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School and Cooper High School in MN (2019-present). Outside of student success, Grant’s number one priority in debate is connecting with the students to foster a beneficial community experience.

Ryan Davis
Ryan DavisLD Debate Coach

In high school, Ryan Davis competed for 4 years for Saint Michael Albertville where she competed in mostly Lincoln Douglas but also Congress and Public Forum. Ryan qualified to nationals twice in both Congress and LD, and qualified to state in LD. Currently, Ryan is a 3rd year student at University of Minnesota studying biology on a pre-pharmacy track. She has debated for the UMN policy team for 3 years, and helped coach the Saint Michael debate team.

Rebecca Froehlich
Rebecca FroehlichSpeech Camp Coach

Rebecca Froehlich is the Development and Communications Manager at the Minnesota Urban Debate League. Rebecca competed in debate and individual speech events while earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Dakota and currently the interim Speech Coach at the University of Minnesota. She earned her Master of Arts in Education at Augsburg University in Spring 2022.

Jane Froiland
Jane FroilandSpeech Camp Coach

Jane Froiland is an actor, director, teaching artist and coach, based in the Twin Cities. As an actor, she has performed with many companies, including The Guthrie Theatre, Children’s Theatre, Park Square Theatre, and many others, as well as many films, television shows, and commercials. She was head coach of the White Bear Lake speech team for 8 years, and has worked as a private coach for many different clients, from executives, to politicians, to Santa Claus. Learn more at

Mark Kivimaki
Mark KivimakiLD Debate Coach

Mark Kivimaki works as a high school debate coach at Edina High School. He debated both in high school and college, where he qualified to the National Debate Tournament. He has coached all formats and levels of debate, including the 2022 NSDA National Champion and the 2023 MSHSL State Champion in LD. He’s excited to work with students at MDAW this summer!

KlecknerMDAW Policy Lab Leader
Kleckner is a proud MNUDL alum, having debated for JPMS, Washburn, and South for all 7 years of middle and high school. They are thrilled to be on the MDAW team this year after coaching middle school debate for 3 years. They are now entering their third year at Drake University, where they are majoring in Secondary Education and Sociology, with a concentration in urban education.
Maren Lien
Maren LienMDAW Lab Assistant

Maren Lien is an incoming freshman at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was a debater and captain at St Paul Central high school, and was a finalist at the Urban Debate National Championship this past year. Maren has also coached Capitol Hill middle school for 2 years. She is experienced in kritik debating and writing joke arguments, and is excited to work with rising debaters this summer.

Jamie Maiers
Jamie MaiersPolicy Debate & Argumentation Coach

Jamie Maiers (she/her) coaches policy debate at Tartan High School and is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Jamie has taught high school English, leadership, speech, and debate courses in southern California, Phoenix, Arizona, and in the Twin Cities. This will be Jamie’s third season working with MNUDL and she is excited to meet everyone at camp!

Cayden Mayer
Cayden MayerMDAW Lab Assistant

Cayden Mayer is an incoming freshman at the University of Minnesota. They are a former student and captain at St. Paul Central and have been involved in policy debate for 6 years. They have been a coach at Capitol Hill for the last two years. As a debater, they qualified to the National Speech and Debate Tournament 2 times and they were a finalist at the Urban Debate National Championship. They enjoy working with all levels of debaters and have a special love for gnomes.

Chris McDonald
Chris McDonaldSenior Guest Lecturer

Chris McDonald is a 5-diamond coach and currently serves as the Director of Debate Activities for Eagan High School in Minnesota. Since 1991 Chris McDonald has coached 167 students to the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament (formerly the National Forensic League) in Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Original Oratory. In 2020 Chris McDonald was inducted into the NSDA Hall of Fame and in 2022 he was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame.

Tom Mickelson
Tom MickelsonMDAW Policy Lab Leader

Tom Mickelson is a current freshman in college at Augsburg University majoring in exercise science under a pre-health track. Tom is currently a coach at Roosevelt High School with previous experience coaching for Yinghua Academy. In total, Tom has 8 years of experience debating and learned the nuances of both policy-heavy and kritical (K) debate.

Teddy Munson
Teddy MunsonPolicy Lab Leader

Teddy (he/they) is a current sophomore and debater for the University of Minnesota! They have also coached for Farmington High School for two years now, and during the most recent season, qualified a varsity team to Nationals. This will be Teddy’s second year working with the MNUDL as a Lab Leader at MDAW!

Michael O'Neal
Michael O'NealMDAW Policy Lab Leader

Michael O’Neal is a 19-year-old political science major currently attending Augsburg University. He is a former Roseville Area Schools debater, captain, and coach. Michael can’t wait to learn more right along with everyone!

Sam Padmanabhan
Sam PadmanabhanHS Congress Lab Leader

Sam Padmanabhan (he/him) is currently the Head Debate Coach/Assistant Speech Coach at Woodbury High School in MN. He has been involved in speech and debate for the better part of a decade and coached numerous speech and debate events, focusing on Congressional Debate and Extemp Speaking. Outside of coaching, Sam is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, working towards his Master’s in Public Policy.

Skye Spindler
Skye SpindlerPolicy Debate Coach

Skye Spindler is the current AmeriCorps VISTA at the Minnesota Urban Debate League and competed in policy debate at Concordia College. She has experience coaching at Wayzata High School and assisting with debate programs across the US.

Kitt Young-Dickerson
Kitt Young-DickersonCamp Operations Director

Watch this space to learn more about Kitt Young-Dickerson!