Letter from the Executive Director

Hello Chicago Debates Family & Friends,

What a great time to join the Chicago Debates team! As we embark upon many exciting changes, I am inspired and eager to lead this charge.  In my short time here, I’ve met so many great people who are passionate about debate, many of whom are former debaters that know first-hand the activity’s transformational power. As someone who never debated, these perspectives have been invaluable as I answer one important question: Why Debate?

Asking why is how I’ve approached my work since my early doctoral studies.For every topic I researched and presented, I was challenged with the questions: So what? Why does it matter?  How will it add value to the work?  Today, I’m excited by the answers I find about debate.

I’ve spent nearly 20 years working to provide youth with opportunities that help them get to and through college, with the purpose of breaking negative intergenerational cycles, and changing their life trajectories for the better. Debate builds on that work.

Debate has proven to build skills that are key to academic, career, leadership, and life success.  Through debate, youth become more engaged in learning and thus are more successful in school, they become more adept in research, synthesizing large amounts of information, formulating evidenced based arguments, and thinking critically, which prepares them for the rigors of college-level work; and they are able to work collaboratively in teams, to listen and respect the thoughts and opinions of others, to see multiple solutions to a problem, which undoubtedly contributes to their professional/career development and advancement.  Ultimately, debate helps to nurture future leaders as youth become more civically conscious and engaged in helping to solve the challenges in our communities and world.

So, why debate?  It’s quite simple to me.  Debate is a powerful and inexpensive investment in cultivating our future politicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, CEO’s and business leaders. 






Dr. Toinette Gunn
Executive Director