Meet the Board

Benjamin Hagwood

Benjamin Hagwood is currently the Assistant Director of Debate at Liberty University. As the Chair of the Board, Mr. Hagwood provides leadership to board of directors, runs board meetings, encourages donor relationships, and chairs the programming committee.

A “true” novice to college policy debate, Benjamin Hagwood fell in love with the activity and community of debate as an aspiring college student. That passion led to a desire to lead and influence future generations of scholars and debaters. Inspired by stories of coaches and community leaders, Benjamin accepted the assignment of Regional Representative for the Cross Examination Debate Association. That quickly implanted a sense of service and dedication to a mission of institutional transparency and equity.

More than a decade later, he still travels across the nation coaching and advocating for the advancement, development, and adoption of equity measures in the debate community. Benjamin provides strategic support and guidance to our Executive Team.

Cydney Edwards
Vice Chair

As the Vice Chair of the board Miss Martin’s responsibilities focus on fundraising, innovating organizational partnerships and establishing board and new membership guidelines. As Vice Chair she also chairs the fundraising and development committee.

Cydney Edwards is an alumna of the Chicago Debate League and participated in policy debate for four years in high school under head coach Bill Colson. Her debate career spans more than a full decade. After attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she served as Program Officer of School Support for The Chicago Debate Commission for 3 years under the leadership of Les Lynn, Edie Canter and David Song. She also worked briefly in Silicon Valley’s debate scene with the UDL as well as expanding into Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas styles as a coach with a for-profit organization, Communication Academy. She currently serves as the Program Director of The Miami-Dade Urban Debate League, where in her first year- they competed in travel for the first time, competing in The Urban Debate National Championship, but also The Citi Financial Literacy Debates. In her inaugural year, MDUDL grew in numbers, as well as tournament debaters and is poised to continue that expansion.

Ryan Wash
Collegiate Executive Secretary

As Collegiate Executive Secretary of the board, Mr. Wash maintains board records, record and distribute minutes, and acts as a liaison to the collegiate debate community.

Ryan Wash received his Bachelor of Fine Art in Communication at Emporia State University and a Master of Professional Communication at Weber State University. He is one of the only people to win both the National Debate Tournament and the Cross-Examination Debate Association championship as a competitor and a coach. He facilitates workshops on social justice, deliberative democracy and debate. His educational motivation stems from his desire actualize the power of voice and story in deliberation. He is delighted to be the Director of Forensics at Weber State University.

Aubrey Semple
Primary/Secondary Executive Secretary

As Primary and Secondary Executive Secretary of the board, Mr. Semple maintains board records, record and distribute minutes, and acts as a liaison to the high school debate community.

Aubrey Semple is one of the leading advocates for after school education in New York City and currently serves as the New York City Urban Debate League as the director of programming. A recipient of the 2015 PASE PASEsetter award as one of the top after school educators in New York City, Aubrey is also an alumnus of the Urban Debate League and have been involved in competitive debate, as a former high school and college competitor, a coach and administrator for over nearly fifteen years. Aubrey currently serves as the primary/secondary school executive secretary of the Association of Black Argumentation Professionals.

Anthony Ogbuli

As the Treasurer, Mr. Ogbuli oversees the organization’s budget, tracks and reports fundraising and manages the organization’s financial compliance broadly

Anthony Ogbuli is currently an assistant debate coach for Wake Forest University. Anthony’s involvement in high school and collegiate debate is extensive, spanning 13 years as a competitor, coach and argumentation professional. Debating at the University of Texas at Dallas Anthony excelled, advancing to elimination debates at regional and national tournaments, competing at multiple consecutive National Debate Tournaments and earning the American Debate Association National Debater of the Year award in 2016. As a coach Anthony has worked with students across the country to achieve competitive success, national recognition and invitations to the Tournament of Champions, National Debate Tournament and more. Recently he completed his Masters degree in Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. Anthony also holds a Bachelors in Arts in Political Science, and a Bachelor of Science in Public and Nonprofit Management.

Jyleesa Hampton
Communication Director

As Communication Director, Jyleesa is tasked with communicating events and news to the community, leads organizational branding and marketing and chairs the outreach committee.

Jyleesa Hampton is the Assistant Director of Speech and Debate at Presentation High School. She is also the Board Chair of the Women’s Debate Institute and serves part time as an assistant debate coach for the University of Kansas. Debating in high school and college Jyleesa’s involvement in argumentation and debate spans more than a decade. Upon graduation from high school she began coaching working with locally and nationally competitive schools in Kansas, Utah, Illinois and Missouri all while competing in collegiate debate at the University of Kansas.

In 2015 after her college debate career ended she began coaching collegiate debate at her alma mater, quickly establishing herself as an accomplished argumentation coach and community member. Her development as an argumentation professional continued as she earned a Masters in Communication Studies. Jyleesa continues her rigorous efforts as a scholar, advocate and black argumentation professional as she pursues her PhD in Public Administration.