Our Team

Summit Debate was founded in 1995 by Jenny Cook, Executive Director. The name Summit Debate was influenced by a historic road, Summit Avenue, known for showcasing some of the grandest homes in the Twin Cities area. Summit Avenue was just a short walk from where Cook lived, and in her mind, the name Summit captured the image of “making it to the top”; thus the motto “Reach for the Summit”. The first institute opened in the summer of 1997 with the National Debate Forum (NDF) in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Public Forum Debate. We added interpretation events in 2004, followed by Oratory and Extemporaneous Speaking in 2007. With more than two decades of experience running summer institute, we have become the one of the largest providers for summer speech and debate enrichment.  In 2019, you can find our sessions reaching from #Coast2Coast!  Summit Debate Online exists to keep our top notch education going during the season.

 
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Jenny Cook

Executive Director

Jenny Cook is the President of Summit Debate Enterprises, which she started in 1995. Summit Debate conducts national debate and speech institutes for high school students and provides resources and outreach for high school competitive debate and speech programs across the country. She is the former Director of Arts at University School of Nova Southeastern University (2005-2015), a pre-K through 12 private school in Davie, Florida. During her tenure as an arts administrator, she oversaw one of the premier arts programs in South Florida, where many of her students went on win local, state, and national awards in music, theatre, film, debate and speech.

In 2004, Jenny helped bring interpretation events to Summit Debate and by 2007 had added all major speech events to the summer programs.  Under her leadership, Summit Debate has expanded to three sessions where they educate more than 500 students a summer - making them one of the largest options for debate enrichment in the summer.

In addition, she holds a Masters Degree in Management and Administration of Educational Programs. For over two decades, she has coached several national, regional and state champions in high school competitive debate and speech events.  Jenny is also a three diamond coach of the National Speech and Debate Association.

 

 

Debate Instructors

 

Lauren Burdt

LINCOLN DOUGLAS

Lauren Burdt graduated from Creighton University in 2015 and manages the Big Questions Debates at the National Speech & Debate Association. She was the first debater from Ankeny High School to qualify to TOC or Nationals, clearing at every tournament she attended senior year. Since 2011, Lauren has coached LDers to over 20 bids and four state championships. She currently coaches at Millard North, where last season, her students finished their junior years in quarters of TOC and finals of NSDA Nationals.

Lauren Burdt is based in Des Moines, Iowa.


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Steve Clemmons

Parliamentary
Lincoln Douglas
public Forum

Steve Clemmons brings over twenty-eight years of involvement in academic debate as a competitor and educator of both high school and college students.  Currently, he works as a high school History and English teacher in the Bay Area at Summit High School, and coaches in the California Coast League as Director of Forensics at University Prep Academy.  He brings to NDF a diverse coaching career as former Associate Director of Forensics and instructor at the University of Oregon, Director of Forensics and teacher at Skyline High School in Oakland, Director of Forensics at The Bentley School and Debate Coach at Saratoga High, and the college debate coach at Santa Clara University. In addition to coaching a finalist for the past two years (2017 and 2018) at the NSDA National Tournament in US Extemporaneous Speaking, Mr. Clemmons has coached High School National Champions in Congress, Extemporaneous Speaking and Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and has qualified dozens of students to the Tournament of Champions, and over a hundred students to the California State Tournament. His college students have qualified multiple times to the NDT (Policy Debate) and NPTE National Tournament (Parliamentary Debate) with wins at most of the major national college tournaments in policy debate and parliamentary debate.  As a competitor, Mr. Clemmons was the 1990 College Lincoln Douglas National Champion and Top Speaker, in 1992 and 1993 a CEDA National Octofinalist and top 20 speaker, the 1994 DSR-TKA Parliamentary National Champion and Second Speaker, and in 1994 a NDPA National SemiFinalist in Parliamentary Debate and Top Ten Speaker. 

Steve Clemmons is based in Oakland, California.


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Abby Schirmer

Policy Debate

Abby Schirmer is entering her fourth year at Marist School where she teaches Advanced Logic & Debate, Research Methods and World History courses.  Prior to coaching and teaching at Marist, Abby coached at Stratford Academy for seven years.  Abby has coached six State Champions and coached the winner of the Baker Award (given to the top Policy Debate team in the nation) twice.  During her tenure at Stratford, her policy teams won the Emory, MBA, Harvard and St. Marks and reached semifinals at the Tournament of Champions.  Abby is the recipient of the 2011 NDCA Rising Star Award. While at Marist, her teams have reached elimination rounds at the University of Georgia, Greenhill, University of Michigan, Chattahoochee, Samford University, Cypress Bay and Isidore Newman tournaments.  Abby also served on the National Speech & Debate Association Policy Debate Curriculum Writing Committee. She is an instructor in the top senior lab at the Hoya Spartan Scholars summer institute.

Abby Schirmer is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Greg Stevens

LINCOLN DOUGLAS
PUBLIC FORUM

Greg Stevens coached at Okoboji High School in Milford, Iowa where he and his wife, Laura, have taught for many years. He is an NFL triple diamond coach at Okoboji and Spirit Lake High Schools. His students have won 26 state champions in LD, Public Forum, and Congress, winning PF five straight years. His school sent at least one PFD team to NFL nationals for six straight years, compiling a 67-17 record in prelim with a 14th, 11th and an 8thplace finish. His students have been in final rounds at many TOC qualifying tournaments and have qualified for TOC in LD and PF. Last year his students earned bids at 6 different tournaments and qualified for and made semi-finals in the NDCA National Tournament.

Greg Stevens is based in Puyallup, Washington. 

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Sophia Gustafson

Public forum
 

Sophia Gustafson is an alumna of NDF Iowa and Roosevelt High School. She has won two state championships and has gained a total of five bids during her high school career. She has been a captain of her debate team since sophomore year. Sophia is now a freshman at the University of Colorado.  

Sophia Gustafson is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Jordann Krouse

PUBLIC FORUM

Jordann Krouse competed for Harrisburg High School in South Dakota and served as the debate’s team Secretary and President her Junior and Senior year respectively. Experienced in all categories, Jordann has placed 1st in every form of debate including Policy, PF, Lincoln Douglas, as well as Extemporaneous. At her first circuit tournament, Dowling, she was able to earned a TOC bid in the Public Forum category. Jordann has qualified for nationals two years in a row (2015 & 2016). First she competed as captain of South Dakota’s world school debate team, second in Public Forum. Ranked highly in the state, Jordann was state runner up in the AA Public Forum category (2016) as well as a recipient of the Donus D. Roberts Award (2016). Jordann currently is attending Boston University majoring in Political Science & Communication.

Jordann Krouse is based in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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Drew Young

PUBLIC FORUM
 

Drew Young debated for four years at Columbus High School (GA), serving two years as captain. He was instrumental in growing the program from an after school club consisting of twelve students to a competitive team of over forty debaters. As a junior, he earned his first TOC bid, won the Georgia State Championship, and reached outrounds at NSDA Nationals. After competing exclusively in Georgia for three years, Drew amassed six TOC bids as a senior, his only year competing on the national circuit. In the 2015-2016 season, Drew reached quarters at Wake and Laird Lewis, octas at Apple Valley and Emory, and championed Carrollton and Isidore Newman. Drew has earned several speaker awards, including 2nd at Wake, 10th at Laird Lewis, and 12th at Emory. He now serves as the assistant coach of the public forum division at Marist School in Atlanta. Drew studies Political Science and Journalism at the University of Georgia.

Drew Young is based in Washington, DC.

 

Speech Instructors

 
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Joele Denis

Interpretation
 

Joele Denis is currently the Interpretation Curriculum Director for Summit Debate. In high school, he was a semifinalist at both the CFL and NFL national tournaments. In college, Joele competed in ten different events, advancing to national final rounds seven times in the events of Drama, Poetry, and Duo, and advancing to semi-finals in Rhetorical Criticism, After Dinner Speaking, Prose Interpreation, and Duo. After becoming a collegiate national champion, Joele helped coach the 2010 collegiate National Champions in Drama (NFA, Jerome Davis), and Poetry (AFA, Ganer Newman). Additionally, he has been a coach at several summer speech camps and high schools with students achieving state titles, and advancing to national final rounds.

Joele Denis is based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

 

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Cory Clark Shay

Original Oratory
Informative Speaking

Since 2001 Cory has been the Head Coach at Gwynedd Mercy Academy.  Cory’s teams have had an amazing amount of success for the small size of their program.  Cory has coached PHSSL State Champions in Persuasive Speaking, Informative Speaking, and Poetry as well as dozens of PHSSL Finalist and Semifinalist awardees and over a hundred PHSSL qualifiers. In 2018 Cory was inducted into the Pennsylvania High School Speech League Hall of Fame.

Cory has coached champions of prestigious invitational tournaments such as Harvard, George Mason, Yale, and Villiger.  Under Cory’s tenure, Gwynedd has had over 75 qualifiers to NCFL Nationals including 14 students who finished in the Top 20 in the country at NCFL Nationals.  She has qualified over 25 students to the NSDA National Finals, the Tournament of Champions (Kentucky), and the NIETOC National Finals, including a National Runner-Up (2nd Place) in Persuasive Speaking at the NIETOC Nationals.

Cory Clark Shay is based in Princeton, New Jersey.


 

 

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Bob Ickes

Original Oratory
Informative Speaking

Bob Ickes—a finalist at the National Forensic League (NFL), National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL), Emory University, and Harvard University tournaments—has been coaching high-school speech for the past 15 years and began working with the Interprod family in 2004. Having edited and or written for Newsweek, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Vogue, Details, The Hollywood Reporter, POZ, and Andy Warhol’s Interview, among other publications, he has coached or helped coach the writing of original orations that have won Harvard and reached the elimination and final rounds of The Glenbrooks, Emory, Yale, Berkeley, and Stanford tournaments, as well as the final rounds of the National Forensic League and National Catholic Forensic League championships. Bob has also edited eight books, including, most recently, “The Architecture of the Novel,” by Anne Lamott and Jane Vandenburgh; The New York Times Notable Book “Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography,” by Burton Hersh; and “The Price of Justice: A True Story of Two Men and Their Epic Battle Against Corruption and Greed in Coal Country,” by Laurence Leamer, out this spring from New York Times Books.

Bob Ickes is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.