Candidate Statements


Ahmad Howard, UChicago

Vice President of Operations:

Stav Kanza-Levi, Rutgers


I’m Stav, I am a sophomore from Rutgers majoring in biochemistry and I am excited to announce that I will be running for Vice President of Operations. 

This past year I have been a Member-at-Large (MAL) on APDA board, the EOF board liaison, an EO, a member of the expansion committee, the RUDU novice mentor, and I tab observed a few tournaments. 

Originally running for board as a novice last year I did not really know what my priorities were on the league or what I wanted to work on. After more time in the league, my priorities have shifted. 

1) Equity – As the board liaison for the committee and an EO at a few tournaments I can definitively say that equity continues to be an issue on APDA. This year I helped in the implementation of disability accommodations on APDA. There is more that I would like to help work on to make accommodations more consistent across tournaments. An idea I have is to compile a list of accommodations and how to implement them for individuals and for tournaments to use as a guide. I want to continue to promote accessibility on APDA. 

2) Expansion – This year the committee changed to using a more individualized approach when contacting schools and directing more resources at schools that are in danger of being unretainted. I would like to continue working on both of these. In the absence of a large enough committee delegating some outreach to board makes sense and seems necessary in order to maintain contact with schools. Helping new schools join the league and helping existing schools stay in the league and regain some of the institutional memory lost to the pandemic remains a priority. 

3) Tab – Between the tournaments I tab directed and the tournaments I tab observed I have been in tab rooms of tournaments of most sizes. While board holds a tab training once a year, I think that we should offer a lot more tab information. The tab training should include issues that come up at smaller tournaments and bigger tournaments so people know what to expect. One issue that I see repeatedly is people copy and pasting tab policies that someone else wrote without understanding what they mean. Regardless of if I am elected, I am committed to making what I have been referring to in my brain as a “tab dictionary”. It would basically be a document with explanations of common things found in tab policy and what they mean for the tournament. This can help people understand the tab policies they are writing and make the decisions they want to make regarding tab policy. 

This past year, my understanding of the role of board has changed. I have a lot more appreciation for this league, the people in it, and their passion for debate. My year as a Member-at-Large has prepared me for VP Ops. This past year I have been in fairly consistent contact with the points of contact assigned to me and I learned a lot about the league, who to ask questions, and what board can do to help. My past 2 years on APDA have been a really great experience. I have learned so much about topics I otherwise wouldn’t even think about. I have met so many amazing people that I am so happy to call friends. APDA has such a unique mixture of a competitive environment and a social community. This league has given me and I am always ready to take the opportunity to give back. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my candidate statement. Please reach out to me with any questions!

Vice President of Finance:

Reed Easterling, NYU

Hi everyone! My name is Reed (he/him), and I’m an incoming junior at NYU. For a little bit of background about me, I come from a small town about 45 minutes outside of St. Louis, MO. While in high school, I made some of my closest friends on the speech and debate team—and was the first person from my public school to qualify to NSDA Nationals. I’ve been a member of NYU PDU ever since I got to the city, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of my time in this league!

As a current member of the Video Recording Committee, I’ve had the privilege of working with members of the current APDA Board, and believe that my experience there will provide me with the ability to hit the ground running should I be elected to APDA Board. I also have had the experience of serving on the NYU PDU E-Board for the past year, once again providing me much of the critical knowledge I believe is essential to being able to serve this league.

As your VP Finance, I’ll pledge to work closely with the Expansion Committee to offer benefits to expansion schools, who are too often barred from competition due to both reg costs and transportation costs (the latter of which can’t be solved with just reg breaks). We need to not only expand but actually publicize the Financial Assistance Fund—because if expansion schools don’t know about our resources they can’t use them. Additionally, having a VP Finance willing to make connections with our committees and with our expansion schools is critical to the continued success and growth of our league—and is a task I am more than willing to take on.

More broadly, I believe that the APDA Board should increase its degree of transparency. For many debaters, especially those who are novices or not on their club’s board, the goings-on of the APDA Board often seem like a black box. I will work closely with my fellow board members in order to increase this transparency and make the Board more accessible to those who oftentimes need our assistance the most. I recognize that I nor anyone else running for Board do not know every correct action to take—thus I pledge to communicate fully with members of the APDA community writ large to create a more responsive organization.

I truly hope that I can earn your vote in this election. If you have any questions about me or my platform, please feel free to send me an email at mre9727@nyu.edu.

Aidan Gillies, Georgetown

I am known by many names on the league. The guy who gives Dom and Lindsey headaches, the reason why people run sports cases, and the person who puked mid-round at Rutgers (we picked up). All of this to say, if you know me, it is probably for my tomfoolery more than anything. But I promise you; there is more to me than that.

As VP Finance for Georgetown, I have become intimately acquainted with the circular economy that is ADPA. By running the finances of the school hosting Nats on a shoestring budget, I have learned not only just how far a school-sponsored club dollar can go but also how much kindness and team involvement goes into making each and every weekend work. And at its core, that is why I am running for VP Finance. Because, and I know this is very Econ Major of me, money is a tool. It is a tool that allows teams to be competitive on the boards, it is a tool that will enable people to engage in the community, and it is a tool that is vital for us to continue to expand and accept more schools into our league.

As VP Finance, I would like to make it so that every team can compete if and when they wish to, make it that travel is not a barrier to success, and make it so that when new schools try to join us, nothing is stopping them from taking the insane leap all of our great Dino ancestors did.


Aiden Zhang, Tufts

Hi everyone! My name is Aiden (he/him), and I am a current second year on Tufts Debate Society where I also serve as VP of Finance. For the last two years, APDA has been an incredible league to be on, and it has forced me to think critically about topics I would not have engaged with otherwise.

I think that the league generally suffers from an issue of financial accessibility, and, given that we cannot control things like travel and lodging costs, we should work to normatively reduce the costs of reg. We are very lucky at Tufts to have an ample budget, and quite frankly we do not really need the revenues from our tournament. This is why our tournament in the fall charged reg that was ~$20 below the standard, and we anticipate lowering it even more next year. We should encourage this sort of behavior among schools who have the means. This would improve accessibility for debaters at pre existing programs which are less financially privileged as well as aiding in APDA’s expansion as it would allow the budgets of budding programs to be stretched further.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and feel free to reach out to me via messenger!

Jonah Paterson, Haverford

Howdy folks, my name is Jonah Paterson (he/him) – a rising sophomore at Haverford College. I could not have asked for a better novice season on the APDA circuit, and I’m running for APDA board to bring that experience to as many new people as possible. As the founder of a recent expansion team, I know what it’s like to be a novice, run a small team, and kick-start a new institution. I’ve organized everything from team finance to logistics to practice to coaching. If you’re willing to give me a hand, I’ll do my best to make APDA easier for all the new and small schools that the league needs. 

Ultimately, I want to take a comprehensive approach to expansion and retention. That starts with outreach. I have connections to the NPDA and BP circuits, as well as West coast universities which would be excellent additions to our circuit. Ensuring these teams stay involved with financial and logistical support is key. That doesn’t just mean supporting teams in need directly with APDA dues and negotiated reg breaks, but actually working with university administrations and tournament organizers to ensure that expansion teams are sustainably funded and can more easily navigate league finance. Distributing competition resources is also essential- the expansion/novice casebook is basically a joke. Instituting volunteer, open-source resources akin to the NSDA Open Evidence Project could go a long way not only to expansion team retention but reducing the competitive disparity between big and small teams. These strategies require the full institutional support of APDA board, and would be far too difficult to implement by the expansion committee alone. 

On a broader note, having expansion voice on APDA board is needed to ensure a level of bureaucratic dynamism. The unique perspective that expansion teams bring to the league culture isn’t just useful to further expansion, but to make sure all of the policies the league considers are equitable regardless of team size, resources, or history. 

There’s a long road ahead of us, and I’d like to think I’ve got some big ideas. With your help we can get it done. If you have ideas or concerns, I’d love to hear from you! As we say at Haverford: with trust, concern, and respect.

Naz Soysal, Yale

Hi, I’m Naz Soysal (she/her), and I’m a first-year at Yale studying Econ and running for Member-At-Large.

From my understanding through talking to previous MALs, the role of a MAL generally requires someone who can handle administrative tasks, rather than any specific skill set. Therefore, I think one of the most important aspects of this position is having someone who has a general vision for how board operates, can serve as a liaison between the board and the rest of APDA, and guides priorities for APDA as a whole. Some perspectives and ideas I hope to bring to board:

  1. APDA is super hard to learn. As someone who came into college with the YDA and college debate in general as major factors in picking Yale, I have a really unique experience of trying (and failing) to learn about APDA even starting in high school (and particularly in the summer before college). While not all of this is something that APDA can change, some of this is something that I think APDA, and specifically the board, can work on– from making APDA rounds more accessible to the public and re-encouraging a culture of recording to creating a glossary of terms (what the hell is Rocky Clocky?) to revamping and updating the novice guide. Going to your first tournament is a stressful experience– and a little more information on how it works would only serve to help. 
  2. I think retention, especially of GMs and POC novices, is crucial after recruitment. Part of this issue is the social environment APDA cultivates– I’ve met some of the coolest people doing this weird activity who have kept me engaged. But I’ve also been a part of spaces in APDA where being a GM has made me feel lesser than or less heard. Coming from an all-girls school, women doing debate and being in leadership positions was natural to me. I think there’s a lot of talk about judging disparities, but considerations about tournament culture and discourse online are less present. Finding solutions to the vast issue of imbalanced retention, speaks, and decisions requires understanding where the problems lie.  
  3. Once people are around, making them actively involved in APDA as more than a means for debating is something I think should be a priority. Running for APDA Board is scary, and I wouldn’t have done it without Jaimy sending messages into the YDA slack encouraging people to run. Outreach at tournaments, on Facebook groups, and in person-to-person interactions are all things that could be improved from the status quo and would certainly drum up interest in making a positive impact in the debate community we all care about. 

Finally, I just want to emphasize that APDA is something I truly care about. Through APDA, I’ve been given the opportunity to meet people from across the country, to debate and research topics that matter deeply to me, and to find my voice. Giving back through APDA Board is something that I really hope to do. 

If you have any questions or anything at all, please feel free to reach out to me on FB, instagram (@nnazsoysal), or email me at naz.soysal@yale.edu. 

Maiya Little, GW

Hey y’all! I’m Maiya, I’m a novice from GW, and an equity officer. 

My platform is all about accessibility on APDA. Weather you know me from competitions, or from my forum post about squawking during speeches, you probably know that I am legally blind. As such, I’ve had to learn to navigate the debate space as an openly disabled person. This has come with a series of challenges, and unique insights into how the APDA format can, and should work. 

Running for board for me is about diversity of voice and ideas. I think it is extremely important to have disability representation on board, not only to be a voice for the other disabled debaters on the league now, but also to challenge existing norms surrounding minority identities in debate, and make the space better for future novice classes. 

Some of the things I intend to focus on on board are:

-specialized EO training for disability/accommodations 

-challenging norms in the format that make it easier for everyone to compete (ex. Standardizing a format for requesting accommodations, and in round norms on how to approach accommodations)

-just on the whole being a voice for minority communities that feel they are not being represented. I want to be open and accessible to anyone who needs me. This doesn’t just include the disability community.

Though my platform centers around my identity as a disabled person, I intend to support everyone as MAL. This includes being another queer voice on board, and challenging APDA sexism and gender norms. This also includes sticking up for expansion schools, and schools with smaller budgets. As I am not from one of these schools, I don’t know best what they need, which is why if I am elected for board I will talk firsthand with these expansion schools about what their priorities are. If their needs are finance based, I will work with VP finance to address travel costs. If their needs are institutional support, I will push for lectures and seminars on the format.

My overall goal on board is to support the community that has embraced me over the past year, and give back to this league in any and every way I can.