Founder, Chicago Debate Commission/Chicago Debates
Appellate Court and Supreme Court Justice
Posthumous Honoree – Deceased
In 1995, a small group of business and civic leaders, led by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon, held a belief that was followed with an idea. Realizing that Chicago Public School students didn’t have the same access to debate as their suburban peers, and believing they too should benefit from the life changing activity, they founded the Chicago Debate Commission (CDC).
Starting small and in partnership with CPS, the CDC had just 35 students from five high schools. Slow and steady growth continued for several years until 2008 when support from the private sector helped to dramatically increase the program. By 2019, a middle school debate program, CPS increased their investment in debate, the Make Room for Debate Luncheon was a successful annual fundraiser, the organization rebranded and became Chicago Debates, and was serving over 1,700 students—earning the title of largest urban policy debate league in the country!
To date, Chicago Debates has served more than 20,000 students and continues to thrive with support of our larger debate community. Today we honor Judge Simon and his legacy.