Our Team

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Edie Canter, Executive Director

As Executive Director, Edie Canter leads the Chicago Debate Commission’s strategic visioning, planning, Board relations, fundraising, administration, operations, and external relations, and provides executive supervision over program work.  With experience in development, advocacy, outreach, communications and organizational and individual management, Edie has presided over unprecedented growth in the number of organizational supporters since she began with the organization in September 2011. Previously, Edie served as Director of Development and Communications at Leadership Greater Chicago, principal of Persuasion Plus and principal of Law Offices of Edith F. Canter. Prior to transitioning into the nonprofit sector, Edie practiced law full-time for 15 years, with a concentration in complex and class action litigation.

David Song, Director of Programs

David returned to the Chicago Debate Commission in June 2015 to lead its dedicated program staff. From August 2008 to March 2013, David worked for the CDC as Assistant, then Associate Director of Programming after eight years of experience leading successful debate programs at Evanston Township and Oak Park River Forest High Schools. During his tenure, he was deeply involved in all aspects of league operations and worked closely with motivated teachers and talented students to double the size of the Chicago Debate League. David has directed public debates featured at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Smithsonian Institute, and DuSable Museum of African American History. He has also held statewide leadership positions in debate with the Illinois High School Association and Illinois Speech and Theater Association. From 2013-15, David served as Director of Programs for the Minnesota Urban Debate League, where he took leadership responsibility for all aspects of program-building, training, and operations during a period of major growth.

Christine Horst, Program Officer for Tournament Operations

Christine has been a part of the CDC in various roles since February 2013. She has been actively and continuously involved in the Chicago debate community for the past 12 years, first as a debater, then as a coach while she was getting a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Northwestern University, and now as a member of the programming staff of the CDC. She has coached debate at numerous schools in Chicago including her alma mater, Lane Tech. In her personal life, she is passionate about the ethical treatment of animals and the social equality of women.

SantaLucia Hernandez, Program Officer for School Support

Lucia Hernandez is an alumna of the Chicago Debate League. She debated three years for Kelly High School and involved with judging and coaching before joining the CDC in July 2016. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelors in International and Chican/Latin@ Studies in 2013. Upon graduation, she served as an AmeriCorps member at Gads Hill Center and a facilitator for the Teen Outreach Program. She is excited to help build and sustain the debate programs throughout Chicago that are providing an opportunity for students to find their power and voice.

Mandela Okere, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Mandela Okere joined the CDC in August 2015 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master's degree in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education. He is an alumnus of the Chicago Debate League, debating at Lane Tech High School for three years and coaching there for four. He has also coached with Alcott Elementary, McCutcheon Elementary, Amundsen High School and started the debate program at Leif Ericson Elementary. His academic work has been on connecting communities in service to its youth. Mandela comes from a debate family; all three of his siblings debate in Chicago Public Schools.

Imran Makani, Development Associate & Grant Writer

Imran is a proud alumnus of the Chicago Debate League and credits debate with shaping the person he is today. Imran got hooked on debate in the early 2000s while a student at Whitney Young High School. While studying philosophy at DePaul University, he stayed involved with the League as a coach and judge, roles he continues to enjoy and is committed to growing in. As a coach, Imran has helped to qualify five teams to the Tournament of Champions and worked with budding debate teams at several under-served CPS schools. Since 2009, he has also worked regularly as a CDL tournament director and as a senior instructor at the Chicago Debate Summer Institute. Imran took on his current role in Development at the CDC in December 2016, following four years of fundraising experience at Equip for Equality, a legal clinic for people with disabilities in Illinois. Based on his rich experiences both as a student and as a mentor in the CDL, Imran believes passionately in the power of debate to engage, inspire and equip urban students to pursue lives of thinking and advocacy.

Diana Jackson, Office Manager & Bookkeeper

Diana joined CDC in August 2016. She graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Accounting in 2008 from University of Illinois-Chicago and later graduated with her Masters of Business Administration from National Louis-University.  She brings over 10 years of experience in Accounting to the position. In her personal time she loves watching her daughter play softball.