Our Team

The Great Debaters Online is managed by a community of volunteers passionate about speech and debate.  We do this because speech and debate changed our lives. So we dedicate this organization to support our future Great Debaters. We thank all our volunteers for making this movement possible. Without you there would be no speech and debate opportunities for all. Thank you all for your support.

Erik Fogel, Founder

Erik has been a public school teacher for ten years with the New York City Department of Education and currently serves as Adjunct Professor at Baruch College in the Communications Studies Department.

Erik attended James Logan High School in Union City, California. Initially, one of the shyest students, he joined a public speaking summer class and met the Forensics Coach, Mr. Tommie Lindsey who recruited him for the Speech and Debate Team. For the next four years of high school he was hooked and learned more in Speech and Debate than all his classes combined. Mr. Lindsey is a speech and debate legend - building one of the largest and most successful Speech and Debate Teams in the nation and impacting thousands of lives. Mr. Lindsey is the recipient of numerous awards including the MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Grant"), Oprah Angel's Award, and many other and was the subject of the documentary, "Accidental Hero."


He received his B.A. from U.C Berkeley, J.D. from Hastings College of Law, and M.S. in Education at Pace University. In his third year of law school he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and spent the year in chemotherapy and radiation. Upon graduation, he decided to follow in the footsteps and inspiration of his parents who were both public school teachers and pursue a career in education. In 2002 he was accepted to Teach for America and has been teaching since. He built one of the largest and most successful Title I debate teams in New York with over 100 students. His students went on to win numerous titles at the city, state, and national levels.  


As a teacher he helped to co-found the Big Apple Debate League which is now the NY Debate League. In 2011, Erik founded the New York City Urban Debate League with the mission that every middle school and high school should have a debate team. Erik served as Founder and Executive Director from 2011-2020 building the league into the largest urban debate league in the nation, serving thousands of students every year.  When the Corona epidemic shut down all NYC schools, Erik decided to start a free online speech and debate league for all students in all grade levels. And so the NYC Elementary School Speech and Debate League and the Great Debaters Online was founded.


Erik is the recipient of numerous awards in education including: We are the Bronx Fellowship Award, Presidential Youth Award in the Arts and Humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, National Institute of Museum and Library Studies and the White House Commission on the Arts and Humanities, United States Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers Fellowship, Fund for Teachers Fellowship, Plank Foundation Fellowship, Points of Light Civic Incubator Award, Robin Hood's GRIT, and Teach for America Innovation Award Finalist.


Skilled Young Orators Heading to the White House



From Baking Cupcakes to Making History

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New York City Teacher Creates After School Debate League Lauded by the White House

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Urban Debate Reborn



Energy, Pizza, and Evidence: Youth Debate in New York


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2020 NYC Elementary School Speech & Debate League