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Our Team
Phyl Demetriou

Founder and Managing Director

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Our mission is to foster speech and debate at all middle schools and high schools in Richmond, Virginia. Our virtual and in-person programs guide students to articulate proper arguments, conduct quality research, and present themselves with conviction and civility. 

RDI began as a passion project to grow an amazing academic activity -- speech and debate. Phyl, like many others, was impacted profoundly by debate's ability to develop his thinking and presentation skills as a high school student and later as a debate coach. 


RDI coordinates yearly summer camps and hosts Sunday morning debate programs for middle schoolers. Alongside our team of lecturers, coaches, mentors, and 


Phyl is a yearly speaker at the Virginia Association of Forensics, Theater, and Debate Coaches (VAFTDC), serves as a consultant to the Richmond Speech and Debate Initiative (RSDI) and works full time as a management consultant at LEK Consulting. 

Meredith Waller

Assistant Director


As the assistant director, Meredith plays a pivotal role in making our programs come to life. She brings years of classroom experience and student management to RDI. 

Meredith is a 5th grade teacher in Chesterfield County and a graduate of William & Mary with a masters in Elementary Education. Prior to her role in Chesterfield County, she has spent several years teaching English online to Chinese students age 5-15, and is passionate about teaching the skills of research, writing, public speaking, and discourse to students. 

Our Summer Instructors


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Dr. Anand Rao
University of Mary Washington
Zach Perry
University of Richmond ​

Dr. Anand Rao is  a professor of communication at the University of Mary Washington, where he has served as Director of the Speaking Center and the Director of the Speaking Intensive Program. He is also the Co-Founder of Millennial Debate, and has more than twenty-five years of experience with speech and debate at the high school and college level, and served as a consultant on a documentary about the National Debate Tournament. We are excited to have Dr. Rao teach at Richmond Debate!

Zach Perry is the assistant debate and forensics coach at the University of Richmond, where he also obtained a B.A. in Philosophy. He is also a member of the Virginia Association of Forensics, Theatre and Debate Coaches (VAFTDC) and assists with various high schools in the RVA and NOVA area. Previous experiences have included: competing internationally, hosting the traveling Committee for International Discussion and Debate (CIDD) team, and debates with the German, "Konstanz Debattierclub". With over 10 years of experience in over a dozen speech events, six forms of debate, Model UN, Future Problem Solvers, theatre, and improv, Zach utilizes these skills to foster a holistic methodology when exploring the art of rhetoric and communication.

Contact us
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Jordy Barry
Head Speech & Debate Coach
​Millburn High School
Kiko Demetriou

University of Virginia

Jordy Barry has years of coaching experience at the national level, particularly with Congress Debate. She regularly consults NSDA for Congress matters, has judged NSDA and TOC finals in Congress debate, and has also personally coached the Congress debate champion in 2018. Jordy currently serves as one of the head Speech & Debate coaches for Millburn High School (NJ), and also works as a political consultant. We are very excited to have Jordy lead our Congress debate. 

Kiko is a fourth year Philosophy student at the University of Virginia, with law school aspirations. Currently, Kiko is the assistant debate coach of Clover Hill High School, and leverages his expertise in critical thought and debate to lead our coaches and develop our curriculum. In his high school tenure, Kiko was ranked 32nd in the nation, a Nevada State Champion, and a competitor at Tournament of Champions.

Our Mentors 


Varun Mandgi
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School
Anna Murray
Maggie L. Walker Governor's School

Varun Mandgi is a current senior at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s school and the Captain of Lincoln-Douglas for the school team. With multiple first and second place finishes at regional tournaments, placement at the state CFL tournament, and participation in national circuit tournaments, Varun is an active member of the Richmond speech and debate community. He is the Director of Debate for SPEAK RVA, a nonprofit for public speaking education, and he helped found the Middle School Debate League in partnership with the Richmond Debate Institute.

Anna Murray is a current senior at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School and has debated in Public Forum for the past two years. Having placed first at a VCFL regional tournament and qualified twice for state tournaments, she is an active member of the Richmond Speech & Debate community. Anna looks forward to a successful semester, and she can’t wait to share her love for debate with students.

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Elijah Williams
Manchester High School
Chrysanna Sotos
Atlee High School 

Elijah is a junior at Manchester High School, and serves as the president of the debate team there. Since joining the speech and debate team at Manchester high school, he found that he is passionate about arguing issues of current events. This euphoria gained from debate made him look towards becoming a lawyer, in particular, a prosecutor. With the help of RVA debate, he is glad to be a mentor and hopes to help others love speech and debate like he does.

Chrysanna is a sophomore at Atlee High School and has been a member of the Atlee Debate team for 3 years. She began public speaking in middle school and was introduced to debate her freshman year of high school. Last year she placed in VHSL regional tournaments for both Impromptu speaking and Lincoln Douglas debate. Chrysanna loved working with the middle schoolers in the fall and is excited to see what the spring will bring. 

Questions? Email us!

Feel free to email us your questions, we will reply to you within a few days. 

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