It may seem hard to believe, but in 2007, there was exactly one high school in the Houston Independent School District offering debate to its students. So two Houston lawyers, convinced by their own experience as students that debate develops critical thinking skills and engages students in learning, wrote an editorial calling on Houstonians to restore this educational opportunity to all of Houston's diverse communities. Houstonians, as they always do, answered the call.

The Houston Urban Debate League, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of debate, formed an innovative public-private partnership with HISD. After a decade working with HISD, HUDL formed a parallel partnership with the Harris County Department of Education to bring debate to even more schools. 

Some of us are former debaters. Some of us were debate moms and dads who saw what this activity does for young minds. Some of us just believe in making educational opportunity available for everyone. All of us love the kids we serve.

Over the last decade, we've served thousands of Houston-area students. We're now in more than forty high schools and a dozen middle schools. We've awarded more than a hundred thousand dollars in college scholarships. We've connected inner-city kids to professional mentors and educational opportunities. And every step of the way we've had one goal in mind: to help the future leaders of this great city find their voices.

Our Board of Directors

Brad Benoit

Partner, Bracewell LLP

Gregg Costa

Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Richard Garner

Director, Speech & Debate, University of Houston

J.T. Kittrell

Attorney, Liskow & Lewis

David Roosth

Director, Waterous Energy Fund

Cameron Secord

Attorney, Jackson Walker LLP

Matthew Whitley

Partner, Beck Redden LLP

Nathan Coco

Partner, McDermott, Will & Emery L.L.P.

Andrew Edison

Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

Amy Geise

Bentham IMF

Michael Murphy

Partner, K&L Gates LLP

Marcos Rosales

Attorney, Beck Redden LLP

Craig Smyser

Partner, Smyser, Kaplan & Veselka LLP

Sarah Cooper

Counsel (Ret.), Gerger & Clarke LLP

Eric Emerson

Board Chair; 

Director of Debate, The Kinkaid School

Heather Hatfield

Partner, Porter Hedges LLP

Jason Powers

Partner, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Denise Scofield

Winston & Strawn LLP

Margaret Tellegen

Lecturer, University of Houston

Contact Us

5535 Memorial Drive, Suite F-553

Houston, TX 77007


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© 2018 Houston Urban Debate League, Inc.

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