Our team

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.

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 providing an opportunity for students to find their power and voice through debate.

Mandela Okere, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator

Mandela Okere joined the CDC in August 2015 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master's degree Social and Cultural Foundations in Education. He is an alum 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.

Nick Locke, Program Officer for Tournament Operations

Nick Locke joined the CDC in August 2016 and is an alum of the league. He attended Lane Tech and won city championships and the JP Morgan Chase National Debate Tournament. He debated at Loyola University Chicago and graduated with a B.A. in philosophy. He has coached debate at numerous schools across Chicago including: Lane Tech, Thomas Kelly, Zapata, North Lawndale, and Alcott. Nick received a Professional Educator’s License from National Louis University in English Language Arts. In his personal life, he is an avid cook, daily bike rider, and improving his fluency in Spanish.

Diana Jackson, Office Manager & Bookkeeper 

Diana joined CDC in August 2016. She graduate 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.