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Directors

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Jonah Williams

Jonah Williams co-founded the Virginia Debate Academy with Benjamin Fisher in 2015. Jonah earned his B.A. in Political Science from the College of William & Mary in 2018, and he is the former coach of the Chantilly High School Speech and Debate team.

Jonah has taught over fifty courses on public speaking, argumentation, research, and critical thinking during the past eight years. His students have won awards at all three national tournaments, multiple national invitationals, fifteen high school trophies, and championed WACFL Metrofinals and the Virginia State Championship tournament. He has built or reinvigorated four debate programs in northern Virginia and frequently consults with local debate programs.

He won the Arlington Diocese once and earned two semi-finals bids at WACFL Metrofinals. On the state circuit, Jonah won numerous district titles, one regional championship, and the State tournament in 2013. On the national circuit, Jonah qualified for nationals three times, where he placed in the top-32 when he was a sophomore, and reached semifinals at two national invitationals.

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Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher co-founded the Virginia Debate Academy with Jonah Williams in 2015. Ben has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia and currently works as a research specialist for the Gartner Business Newsdesk.

He has been coaching students for eight years at local schools, including being the coach of Rachel Carson’s debate team which placed 1st and 3rd at Nationals and being the principle consultant for Freedom High School's debate program. He was an instructor at numerous camps over the years, teaching hundreds of students ranging from 5th to 12th grade. He was the head captain for Chantilly High School's back-to-back state championship team.

As a debater, he was ranked the best debater in Virginia 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. In the WACFL circuit, Ben remained undefeated in Public Forum for two years and qualified for Varsity Metro Finals in Public Forum, Lincoln Douglas, and Student Congress. Ben placed in Impromptu and Extemporaneous forensics events at regional level VHSL tournaments, where his speech team won sweepstakes four years in a row. 

Instructors

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Julie Ablimit

Julie Ablimit received her BA in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Virginia, and she is a first-year law school student at Stanford Law School. She was head captain of her High School debate team and the coach of Franklin Middle School's debate program. Julie has been teaching for the Virginia Debate Academy for five years.

 She placed multiple times in the varsity division on the local circuit, where she won the Public Forum Varsity Metro Finals tournament. Julie competed in late elimination rounds at two invitational tournaments and at the national tournament. On the state circuit, Julie won multiple district and regional titles and the State championship twice.

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Joshua Grant

Joshua is a recent graduate of James Madison University's Political Science Masters program based in Florence, Italy, where he specialized in economic and social policy. 

As president of his high school debate team, he placed top-3 at multiple VHSL tournaments, including the state championship. As an undergraduate, Joshua competed in policy debate, specializing in critical policy debate. He helped various schools in Lynchburg, Virginia develop their debate teams and related curriculum. He also helped craft debate curriculum for an International Relations Theory course for the Helms School of Government to deepen students' understanding of how theory interacts with praxis concerning foreign affairs through argumentation. Joshua is passionate about empowering youths through debate and the many portable skills that come from learning competitive debate.

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