Welcome! The Expansion Committee has 10 members for Fall 2018 and can always be reached at Contact information for individual members can be found below.

Committee Co-Chair 

Region 5: West

Zachary Lemonides is a fourth year, and the president of the University of Chicago Debate Society. This is his second year serving as a chair of the expansion committee. As somebody who is on his eighth(!) total year of debate, Zach is deeply passionate about the activity and is on the expansion committee to help people without already established programs be able to participate and enjoy the activity. During his limited free you can catch Zach visiting local dog parks or road-tripping around the country with a good book in hand. You can reach out to him at  


Committee Co-Chair

Region 3: New York

Jacob Bezner is a third-year student at Binghamton University, where he is the Vice President of the parliamentary debate team. This is his first semester on the Expansion Committee. At Binghamton, Jacob led a complete overhaul of the parliamentary debate program. With extensive experience in forming his own expansion team, Jacob looks forward to aiding other teams who join the circuit. Prior to attending Binghamton, Jacob was a four-year competitor in Congressional Debate for a small program in New York. In his free time, Jacob is listening to podcasts, working in local politics, and obsessing over baseball statistics. Feel free to reach out to him on Facebook or by email at


Board Liaison

Emily Hu is a junior (3rd year) at Stanford and a Member-at-Large in the APDA board. She previously served on the both Diversity Initiative and the Expansion Committee as a sophomore before liaising on Board. She debated for four years in Louisville, Kentucky, where she competed for—and helped raise up—a small, upstart school team. These experiences have made her incredibly passionate about further expanding debate and providing resources to smaller schools. Outside of debate, Emily is interested in tech, philosophy, linguistics, and psychology; she loves social dancing in her free time (catch her doing swing or waltz on non-tournament Fridays) and making pencil and ink drawings in her sketchbook.


Region 1: South

Elmira Adili is a sophomore at William and Mary double majoring in neuroscience and philosophy. This is her second year on both the Expansion Committee and the Diversity Initiative. Prior university she debated on the (then brand new) College Station High School Speech and Debate Team, for four year, an experience which has made her passionate about debate and helping out new programs. She serves as the Vice President of Operations for her debate team, works as an RA, and adores bullet journaling, reading/writing fiction and poetry, and volunteering in her free time. Contact her at


Jela Shiver is a senior at the University of Maryland double majoring in Government & Politics and Economics from Alexandria, Virginia. Jela currently serves as the President of the Maryland Parliamentary Debate Society and this is his fourth year on APDA. Debate for Jela is an important avenue to bridging different communities and cultures to facilitate learning and entertainment. He looks forward to helping schools of all varieties south of the Mason-Dixon into the fold of APDA and can be reached at

Region 2: Mid-Atlantic

Vignesh Valliyur is a third year student studying philosophy, politics and economics at the University ofPennsylvania and minoring in computer science. Having never really debated in high school, Vignesh discovered the wonderful world of debate through his introduction to APDA. Due to this, everything he has experienced in the last two years, be it the friends he’s made or the things he’s learnt, is all the more precious to him, for it was an entirely new experience. He is extremely passionate about helping new teams thrive on apda and is incredibly excited to be a part of the expansion committee. In his free time, you can find him playing tennis, playing poker, watching The Wire (he knows he’s a little behind the times on that one), doing funny voices and running. Feel free to reach out to him at


Region 4: New England

Julie Graves is a in her second year at Smith College, where she is studying Government and Economics and is the Vice President of Operations for the Smith Debate Society. This is her second year in APDA, and her first year serving both in the Expansion Committee and the Gender Empowerment Initiative as an LGBT Liaison. She is from Corpus Christi, Texas, where she debated all throughout high school, and helped grow her small team to an epic powerhouse. When she isn’t debating, you can find her writing, listening to podcasts, hiking, or buying more men’s button down shirts from Goodwill than anyone could possibly need.


Trent Kannegieter is a second year student at Yale University. Born and raised in Daphne, Alabama, where he competed for the only speech and debate team in his county, he understands the importance of having help from the broader community to get teams up and running and help debate reach new people. He spends way too much of his time on podcasts, tennis, and esoteric standup comedy.

Region 5: West

Michael Cooper a third-year studying Computer Science at Stanford University. In my two years (so far!) on APDA, I’ve really enjoyed the true friendships that I have made, and the high level of debate I have had the chance to experience. This is my second year serving on the Expansion Committee; I’m back because I am genuinely passionate about helping developing teams establish themselves on the APDA circuit. During the rare occasions when I’m not debating, you can find me ballroom dancing, dreaming up startup ideas, writing socially-beneficial software projects, and running. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about APDA, or if you’d just like to talk about life – I’d love to get to know you!


Adi Ram is a third year at the University of Chicago. Despite being the kind of social isolationist that chose to major in math, Adi loves debating on APDA because of the great community he has met over the years. On the expansion committee, he seeks to expand and deepen those networks to other schools that traditionally have lacked strong debate programs. In his spare time, he’s chilling in the GA of some tournament or another. You can reach out to him at



Andrew Hamilton is a senior studying economics and political science at the University of Chicago. This is his second year on the Expansion Committee, and he has also served as Chair of the Video Recording Committee. A proud Montrealer, Andrew will be coordinating outreach with Canadian schools interested in competing on APDA. During his free time, Andrew enjoys back-tabbing tournaments, completing crossword puzzles, and playing LSAT logic games for fun. You can reach him at