Director of Curriculum And Instruction
Coach Alissa is ModernBrain’s director of curriculum and instruction. She is a five-time national speech champion and seven-time state speech champion with experience in advancing to twenty-seven national out rounds. She was ranked the 4th top speaker in the nation at the Phi Rho Pi National Speech and Debate tournament and was selected to be a member of the exclusive All-American Team. She received her BS from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in communication studies and a minor in political science. She received her Master’s in communication studies at Cal State Long Beach. As a child, Coach Alissa was an ESL student and wants to help all her students regardless of language skills achieve success in speaking.
"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire."
-- William Butler Yeats
Iain is thrilled to promote empathy, equity, and excellence as a ModernBrain regional director. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, his M.A. in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University, and his Certification in Advanced Education Leadership from Harvard University. He is in the process of obtaining a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Vanderbilt University; his thesis will focus on the intersection of burnout, accessibility, and ableism in the Speech and Debate community.
Iain is a lifelong advocate for competitive communication; he founded eight teams, coached winners of over 6,000 individual awards (in addition to over 1,000 individual championships, including five national champions), and received the National Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the activity. Iain’s students are the only team in the history of Southern California to earn the National Speech and Debate Association’s Outstanding Distinction team award. In 2019, his team won sweepstakes at the Tournament of Champions. He’s coached NSDA national semifinalists, finalists, and champions in Public Forum Debate, Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Programmed Oral Interpretation, Congress, International Extemp, National Extemp, Storytelling, Expository, Commentary, and Impromptu Speaking. During his college years, he won the American Mock Trial Association’s national championship twice.
"I’m a proud member of the ModernBrain family because my colleagues know how to bring out the best in their students and each other. They understand the four elements of public speaking success: authenticity, consistency, strategy, and luck. They know that taking home trophies should never be the primary goal—but, with teachers like these, it’s often the outcome."
- Iain Lampert
Coach Abigail is the winningest speaker in college competition history. Abigail has won 12 national championships in many different events, including Dramatic Interp, Prose, Poetry, Duo, and more. She is the only person to have won the AFA title in Dramatic Interpretation twice and is an NFA Pentathlon National Champion, meaning she won more points at nationals than any other competitor. Abigail is such a great speaker that one year she tried a new event just for fun and won 2nd place in the US. She has a BS in Human Development & Family Studies and is currently pursuing a medical degree, both from the University of Austin, Texas.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
-- Henry Adams
Coach Yaw was the Director of Forensics (speech and debate) at the two-time national championship-winning team at Concordia University. When he was competing, he placed nationally in interp events including poetry and DI. He won the American Forensic Association’s Outstanding Coach of the year award in 2018. Yaw has coached University level speech teams that have ranked in the top 10 in the United States for the last several years. Coach Yaw teaches all speech events at the national level and is famous for inspiring students to not only become great speakers, but also for having a passion for communication.
“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”
-– Rita Pierson
Director of Debate
Scott Wheeler is ModernBrain’s director of debate. He is one of the best debate coaches in the United States. He is the first coach in history to receive the Ted W. Belch award for being the best policy debate coach in the US for two consecutive years. Over the past 8 years, Mr. Wheeler has coached his teams to 4 national championships and 7 state championships as well as winning at the most prestigious and difficult competitions in the US including Stanford, Cal Berkeley, Emory, Greenhill, St. Marks, Blake, and MBA. Mr. Wheeler’s teams have won the Unger Cup twice, an award for the Policy Debate team places highest in six different national tournaments. Scott has a BS in Communication from Northwestern.
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”
–- Malala Yousafzai
Los Angeles Regional Director
Dorri is ModernBrain’s West Los Angeles Regional Director. She graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach with a BS in communication studies and a Master’s in communication studies. She is an award-winning communication researcher, with the top paper in the Women’s Studies Division of the National Communication Conference in 2018. While Dorri was competing, she was a National Finalist in Duo, Persuasion, and Communication Analysis and claimed a title as an AFA award-winning speaker.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
-- Henry Adams
Middle School + High School Debate
Coach McKeever is one of the best debate coaches in Orange County. He has taught speech and debate in Southern California for over a decade. He is a current Graduate Student of Secondary Education and has crafted curriculum for over a dozen schools throughout Orange County.
His teams have won over 400 awards, in four different leagues, at the local, state, and national championship levels of competition.
1st and 2nd place at the 2021 Reagan Presidential Foundation Great Communicator Debate Western Regional
Top 8 in the Nation at the 2020 Reagan Presidential Foundation Great Communicator Debate Series
2018-19: Jeffrey Trail Middle School was named Two Time #1 Ranked Debate School in the Orange County Debate League
2016-18: Consecutive Three Time Champion Speaker in Parliamentary Debate -OCDL-
2015-19: Over 100 semi finalist, and Finalist awards, including over 30 First Place Commendations
Top Ranked Parliamentary and Team Policy Team in the Nation -stoa nationals
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you”
Coach Alana is a UCLA graduate, former Lincoln-Douglas debate captain, nationally ranked MUN debater and children’s theater director. She has also participated in Mock Trial, Comedy Sportz and numerous other speaking events. At UCLA she wrote for the award-winning student paper The Daily Bruin and interned at the podcasting company Crooked Media. Coach Alana teaches several classes including MUN, Media Literacy, Littles Speech and speech and debate comprehensive, and hopes to make debate accessible and engaging for students of all ages and skill levels. She has also worked for podcasting startup Crooked Media, publisher of the popular podcast Pod Save America, and has worked in C-SPAN’s digital department in Washington, D.C.
I love getting to work with ModernBrain coaches and students. It’s wonderful to teach in an environment where everyone, from our most advanced competitors to speech newbies, are always giving their best effort. My goal every class is to make sure that we learn something new and we have fun doing it! - Alana
Coach Karlee has a BS in Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations and a Master’s in Communication Studies from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. While in school, Karlee won UNO’s Top Thesis Award for the School of Communication and the Elton S. Carter Award for Excellence in a Master’s Thesis. Coach Karlee is a national champion in Dramatic Interp and a national semifinalist in POI and Informative. She is also a State Champion in Duo, POI, and Prose. While competing, Karlee was selected to be a member of the exclusive All-American Team and won the Kevin Heineman Award, Spirit of NIFA Award, and MavSpirit Award for excellence in speech and dedication to the community.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer” – Albert Einstein
Coach Noah is a phenomenal coach and has coached students to great success in Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, Public Forum, and Congress debate.
Coach Noah Qualified a high school Policy Debate team for the Tournament of Champions (TOC), and was the only after school based coach in SoCal to achieve this in the 2020-2021 season
Students achieved Top 8 and Top 16 places in the nation for The Reagan Great Communicator Debates in Spring/Summer 2020, earning students scholarships and internship opportunities
Coach Noah is a leader with a passion for public advocacy. He is the youngest person to receive the ACLU’s Voice of Tomorrow award for his hard work and activism to make the world a better place.
“If You are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people”
Debate + AP ECON + Financial Literacy
Coach Michael is a national champion speaker and debater. While he was competing, he claimed the title of national champion in Parliamentary Debate from Phi Ro Pi. Both his undergrad and graduate work was in economics. Michael has worked as an economic consultant and he has performed research on training students to become financially and economically literate and has helped create standardized Econ tests for schools. When students learn from coach Michael, they don’t just learn speech and debate, they learn how to think like an economist.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi
Head of Congress Debate National Team
Coach Fidencio competed in competitive speech and debate in high school and college. Fidencio is a Phi Ro Pi national champion, winning Gold in Extemp. He is also a state champion in Congress debate. He has also taken many state and regional awards in Persuasive, Communication Analysis, and Impromptu. Besides being an impressive competitor, Coach Fidencio is an impressive coach who has guided many students to state and national success. As the head of ModernBrain’s Congress Debate program, he has coached the students who took home 3rd place and finaled in Congress at the 2019 Middle School Tournament of Champions and the student who took home 5th place in Congress at the 2019 State Championship.
Coach Fidencio's students took home multiple top 2 and 5 award at the 2021 Annual Stanford tournament.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
Coach Lexi has been involved in Speech and Debate for the past 16 years. In her time as a competitor, Coach Lexi competed mainly in Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation, Congressional Debate, Public Forum Debate and Duo Interpretation. She was a two-time California State and National Qualifier, and won championships at many invitational and regional tournaments. Her senior year in Original Oratory she was the Berkeley Invitational Tournament Champion, California State Runner-Up, and finished 4th place at Nationals. As a coach, Lexi has coached students to local and state championships in California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Colorado, and New Jersey, as well as multiple National outrounds in Limited Preparation, Interpretation, and Platform Speaking events, including NSDA national finalists. She has also coached over 20 students to NSDA outrounds and over 30 High School National Qualifiers. Coach Lexi is also credentialed to teach English in both Arizona and California. Her focus is on improving writing skills, creative writing, and reading comprehension.
Coached the 2018 middle school national champion team.
Coach Lexi coached multiple students to the 2020 NSDA Middle School Challenge award winner - top 10 in the nation.
"Change is the end result of all true learning" – Leo Buscaglia
Model United Nations
Coach JP is an accomplished orator and academic researcher who has spent many years working in corporate settings. He works as a science and technology communicator for the United Nations, which gives him unique insight in coaching Model United Nations students at ModernBrain. He has won over 10 different top research, delegation, and committee awards at top National MUN conferences in New York and Washington D.C. John Paul is currently earning a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering while he presides as founder and president of the Hyperloop research and development team at his university and runs his own nonprofit to help disadvantaged students get STEM internships.
"The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet" - Aristotle
Coach Abdullah graduated with honors in Rhetoric and was the 2018 Commencement speaker at the University of California, Berkeley. While he was competing, Abdullah became the national champion in Informative, national finalist in Communication Analysis, Readers’ Theater, and Persuasive, and State champion in Persuasive. Trophies aside, Abdullah reminds his students that the true value of competing in forensics comes in the form of transferable skills: critical thinking, public speaking, information processing, analytical writing, and active listening. He hopes to continue teaching these skills and values to his students to empower students from all backgrounds and skill levels to find their voices.
"The true value of competing in forensics comes in the form of transferable skills: critical thinking, public speaking, information processing, analytical writing, and active listening" - Coach Abdullah
Coach Bear - Parli Debate
David “Bear” Saulet attended Concordia University Irvine on a debate scholarship. During his time at Concordia, Bear and his partner would become the top parliamentary debate partnership in California as well as the second best partnership nationwide. Since graduating from Concordia, Bear has served as the Assistant Director of Debate at Concordia Irvine, where his team won 1st place sweepstakes at the National Parliamentary Debate Association tournament, as well as the Assistant Director of Forensics at Oxford Academy. Bear holds a master's degree in Communication Studies from the California State University Long Beach.
“Bear” has been a fixture at the famous POI Debate Institute at UC Berkeley since its founding in 2013, where he served as the director of the Institute's Master Class program.