The Team

John Connor

Web Strategist

“As a former CDL debate champion, coming from an underprivileged school, I experienced first hand how radical of an impact debate can have on a student’s life. I’ve been working on various community education projects for almost 10 years, from the Chicago Free Skool to founding a peer-to-peer education platform called I’m now working to utilize my successful experience in web strategy and community building to help bring a top tier debate education to any student looking to compete. ”

Nick Locke

Educator and Coach

 “My goal is to empower students and give them a foundation of knowledge to last their entire debate career. After debating competitively in high school and college, I knew that I had to continue my involvement in the activity. Since then, I have been teaching debate for almost a decade at a myriad of Chicago Public Schools. Debate Academy is about synthesizing my passion for the sport, my experience with diverse students, and my expertise as a high school English teacher to make debate knowledge universal and accessible to all students.”

Flynn Makuch

Educator and Coach

 “I debated competitively both locally and nationally during high school – winning the Illinois State tournament as well as national tournaments. I later realized how privileged I was to receive the coaching and support I did during high school. Debate radically changed my life, affording me a scholarship to college as well as changing the entire structure of how I think for the better. My desire was and is to give back to an activity that has given me so much, so I committed to staying as involved in debate as possible. Since high school, I have taught at and directed a number of summer debate institutes, coached to national success several different high schools and universities, and taught and developed debate curriculum in China.”

Mandela Okere

Educator and Coach

 “I’m a long time debate professional, with nearly 20 years of debate experience in direct policy debate, coaching, program building and administration. My goal is to take the intellectual momentum students have for learning and improvement and guide them find success in debate and their future. I utilize my Masters in Education to think through new and powerful methods of critical thinking and social progress, which I believe and love that debate provides that space.”