ABOUT US

Jonah Williams 

Co-Founder & Director

Virginia Debate Academy

virginiadebateco@gmail.com

Jonah Williams cofounded the Virginia Debate Academy with Benjamin Fisher and Sherry Feng in 2015. Jonah has B.A in Political Science from the College of William & Mary, and he is the former coach of the Chantilly High School Speech and Debate team. During his four years on the Chantilly Debate team in high school, Jonah placed over a dozen times on the local circuit. He qualified for the WACFL Metrofinals tournament three years in a row, where he won the Arlington Diocese once and earned two semi-finals bids. In the Virginia High School League, Jonah won numerous district titles, one regional championship, and he won the State championship in 2013. On the national circuit, Jonah qualified for nationals three times, and placed in the top-32 when he was a sophomore. Additionally, he reached semifinals at two national invitationals, and his team placed third at the Moot Court national tournament during his freshman year of college. Since then, Jonah has coached over two hundred students in Virginia. His students have won numerous awards at all three national tournaments, fifteen high school trophies, and championed WACFL Metrofinals. He also currently teaches debate-related studies to students at schools such as Harvard University and Georgetown University and is a policy analyst in Washington D.C.

Phyl Demetriou

Co-Founder & Director

Richmond  

 virginiadebaterichmond@gmail.com 

Phyl joined Virginia Debate Academy in 2017 as the Richmond Director with the goal of expanding debate in Richmond. Phyl has worked with Chesterfield County School District for 3 years, while also advising the Richmond Forum on their Richmond Region Speech and Debate Initiative, and is a yearly speaker at the Virginia Association of Forensics, Theater, and Debate Coaches. Phyl has has been involved in Speech & Debate for almost a decade, and a nationally ranked speaker and debater.

Phyl currently acts as the Director of the Richmond region, but also works full time in New York City as a Financial Service Auditor for Ernst & Young. Phyl organizes camps, school packages, and develops speech and debate curriculums with his network of teachers and coaches, aiming to develop critical education in Richmond as a whole. 

As a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Accounting and Philosophy, Phyl knows the importance of a critical thinking education and how it relates to industry. That's why Phyl is proud to continue developing his educational services to the Richmond area, and aims help every student grow and succeed. 

Benjamin Fisher

Co-Founder & Director

Virginia Debate Academy

virginiadebateco@gmail.com

Ben is a rising senior at the University of Virginia. He was head Captain of Chantilly High School’s back-to-back State Championship winning Speech team, and their State Championship winning debate team. He’s been coaching students for 5 years at local schools, including Rachel Carson’s debate team, which placed 1st place at Nationals after he began coaching, and the Nysmith School for the Gifted, which places first consistently at local public forum tournaments. He was an instructor at numerous camps over the years, teaching hundreds students. As a debater, he was ranked the best debater in the state for three years straight by the National Speech and Debate Association. Ben placed 3rd at three national invitational tournaments, and competed in elimination rounds at numerous other national invitationals. He placed top-6 in the Varsity division multiple times on the regional circuit. Ben placed in Impromptu and Extemporaneous forensics events at the district tournament, where his speech team won sweepstakes 4 years in a row.

 
 

Virginia Debate Academy

 

Background photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

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