Instructor Biographies

Public Forum Debate Institute

Harry Strong

Harry Strong

Coach Strong took over the Des Moines Roosevelt speech and debate program in 2004 and has grown it from a very small squad to over 60 students. His students have now won 11 individual state championships, qualified 34 times to the NFL national tournament and have won the NFL School of Excellence award in debate. His extemp students have consistently placed high or won at national circuit extemp events. His students are frequently invited to the top select tournaments in the country. “Strong” was honored as the winner of the Extemp Coaching Excellence Award in 2010. He was the West Iowa Coach of the Year in 2011. His 2011 debate team won both State of Iowa team championships and his speech team was 2nd in State team sweeps. Additionally, academics matter in the Roosevelt program as proven with over 20 students winning the NFL Academic All American Award since 2007.

Zach Prax

Zach Prax

Zach Prax joins us for his first summer at the Gustavus Adolphus Speech and Debate Institute. A high school instructor for seven years, Zach received his B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his M.A. in social studies education from the University of St. Thomas, and teaches AP European History and US History at Chanhassen High School. A coach of over a decade, Zach has directed debate, original oratory, and extemporaneous speaking at Chanhassen for two years, and coached at Apple Valley High School for eight years prior. In his two years at Chanhassen, Zach's debaters have won the MDTA Novice State Tournament and the MSHSL Section 6 Debate Tournament, and cleared at the MSHSL State Debate Tournament. In speech, Zach’s extempers and orators have appeared in the final round of NFL Nationals, NCFL Grand Nationals, the Minnesota State Tournament, and have also appeared in deep outrounds at a number of local and national invitational tournaments including Emory, the Glenbrooks, Harvard, and the Extemp TOC. In his "free time", Zach keeps himself busy by serving at the Secretary of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association, the Section 6 Debate Representative, the Director of the Winona Diocese of the National Catholic Forensic League, and the Chair of the Central Minnesota District of the National Forensic League.