Debate Faculty Bios


2018 Debate Faculty – 6 week, 4 week, & 1 week

Daniel J. Fitzmier

    • Daniel J. Fitzmier is the Director of Debate and a Senior Lecturer in Northwestern’s School of Communication. Over the course of his career, he has coached 10 different teams to the Finals of the National Debate Tournament, including the National Champions in 2015, 2011, 2005, 2003, 2002, and 2000. He has also coached seven Copeland Award-winning teams, the award given to the team with the top overall performance each debate season. He has coached two Top Speakers at the NDT and is the only coach to ever coach more than one woman to win that award. Dr. Fitzmier has received the James J. Unger Award more than any other coach – having been awarded that honor in four of the last eight seasons. He was voted the National Debate Coach of the Year in 2012 and has coached fifteen teams to the Final Four of the National Debate Tournament as well as seventeen top five Copeland finishers in his seventeen years of working as an assistant, graduate student, and director. The summer institute in 2019 will mark the thirtieth Northwestern Debate Institute at which he has served as the director or instructor.


Six Week Faculty

Jeff Buntin

    Jeff Buntin, (part-time 6 week faculty) coaches debate at Northwestern University. During his tenure, Northwestern’s teams have won the NDT twice, reached the finals three times, received four Copeland Awards, and won virtually every major invitational tournament and round robin. He is widely regarded as one of the leading neg strategists and researchers in college debate, and is an ideal instructor for anyone looking to improve at research, file construction, and any aspect of debating on the negative.


Lincoln Garrett

    Lincoln is the head coach at the University of Kentucky and an assistant coach at the Montgomery Bell Academy. Lincoln’s high school teams have won Wake Forest, the Barkley Forum at Emory University, and the Glenbrooks. Montgomery Bell is the first high school in history to clear four teams at the Tournament of Champions. Kentucky has had three NDT first round bids, cleared five different partnerships to NDT elimination rounds, and have made deep runs at each major college national tournament in the four years since Lincoln has been a coach.


Pauline Esman

    Pauline Esman is a senior at Northwestern University studying political science and psychology. She has done policy debate for eight years. She and her partner, Christopher Callahan, were first-round recipients to the National Debate Tournament during the 2016-2017 season. At the start of the 2017-2018 season, Pauline and Chris were semifinalists of the Georgia State Tournament and finalists at the Kentucky Tournament. Pauline previously worked at the Northwestern Debate Institute as a lab leader in 2014 and 2015. Outside of debate, Pauline does political science research and has spent the past year as Vice President of the Chi Omega Fraternity.


Dave Weston

Dave Weston has been coaching high school policy debate for over a decade. After working with Pittsburgh Central Catholic, he spent four years coaching Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, PA. He has just finished his sixth year coaching at New Trier High School in Chicago’s north suburbs. During the span of Dave’s coaching career he has coached state champions in both Pennsylvania and Illinois. His teams have consistently debated in the elimination rounds of regional and national tournaments including the Niles Township Invitational, Greenhill Fall Classic, Heart of Texas Invitational, University of Michigan tournament, the Glenbrooks, The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic, the John Edie Holiday tournament hosted by the Blake School, The Barkley Forum at Emory University, and the Cal Invitational at UC Berkeley. During his time at New Trier, the school has qualified teams to the Tournament of Champions with finishes in the 2017 semifinals and 2016 octofinals. New Trier’s teams have also qualified for the elimination rounds at the National Debate Coaches Association national championship. In addition to coaching and teaching, Dave has served as the president of the Illinois Debate Coaches Association and is currently on the executive board of the National Debate Coaches Association.

Kristen Lowe, coach at Harvard University and New Trier High School 

Chris Callahan, debater at Northwestern University, NDT octofinalist, two-time First Round recipient

Dan Bannister, debater at the University of Kentucky, two-time NDT First Round recipient and 2016 TOC Champion

Gabe Jankovsky, debater at Northwestern University, NDT octofinalist


Four Week Faculty

Aaron Vinson

Aaron Vinson is the Head Speech and Debate Coach at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. Over the course of his career he has coached Illinois varsity state champions in Policy, Lincoln Douglas, and Public Forum debate. He has also coached 37 students in Policy, Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum, and Congress debate at the Tournament of Champions. Aaron has worked at debate programs at Miami University, Michigan State University, and Michigan University. He has worked at the Northwestern Debate Institute for five years as a lab leader, Public Forum director, dorm director, and associate director.

Jeff Buntin, coach at Northwestern University (part-time 4 week faculty)

LaTonya Starks, coach at Northwestern University

Hays Watson, head debate coach at the University of Georgia

Theo Noparstak, debater at the University of Kentucky, NDT octofinalist, two-time First Round recipient

Anthony Trufanov, debater at the University of Kentucky, two-time First Round recipient


More 4-week faculty will be finalized soon – check our website for updates!

One Week Faculty

Tara Tate Carr


    Tara Tate Carr has been a nationally successful high school coach since 2000 with successful programs at Glenbrook South HS (IL), Colleyville Heritage HS (TX), and The Blake School (MN). Tara has enjoyed national success with numerous championships at most of the major high school national invitationals. Her team won the NSDA National Championship in 2014, was runner-up for the national title in 2013, and finished third in 2012. She has had numerous teams in the elimination rounds of the TOC, including the finals. She is the past President of the National Debate Coach Association and is widely regarded for her teaching methods with younger debaters. Tara has led our sophomore lab for the past six years.

Katie Gjerpen Weston, Head Debate Coach at Niles North High School




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