2021 staff are being updated on a continuing basis as placements are confirmed!
Meet Our Staff
Danielle Castillo - Curriculum Co-Director for Interpretation
Danielle is graduate student in Latin American Studies and an assistant director for Texas Speech, where she was lead coach for the 2021 NSC national title by Dago Lopez in Dramatic Interpretation. Originally from the Houston circuit, Danielle has competed in forensics since high school where she reached national and state outrounds in Poetry and Dramatic Interpretation. She appeared in national award rounds at both the AFA and NFA national contests in Duo, Prose, Poetry, and DI, with national final round performances in Dramatic Interp at AFA (2019) and Prose at NFA (2019). Danielle is excited to create art with the students and help them continue to tell stories that have an impact on life, both inside and outside of forensic performance.
Terran Duhon - Curriculum Director for Oratory/Informative
Terran Duhon began his speech career in middle school and fell in love with the activity. As a student at San Antonio's Reagan HS, he was the recipient of the Perfect Performance top speaker award at the 2011 NIETOC, winning the NIETOC championship in Original Oratory. Speech eventually carried him into college as a member of both the San Antonio College speech team and the UT Speech Team where he was a multiple national out-rounder in both the Public Speaking and Interpretation categories. He now teaches Speech at St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio, Texas, and could not imagine a better job than helping students realize their passion for activism and performance.
Ben Gaddis - Curriculum Director for Extemp/Congress
Ben is a former assistant director of Texas Speech and the current Director of Forensics at Trinity Preparatory School in Florida. A graduate of Bradley University and a doctoral student in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, he brings an extensive background and approach to coaching individual events. Ben has coached at numerous national high school camps and workshops over the years, and is excited to return once again to his role helping to coordinate the Extemp curriculum and to serving the students of UTNIF. In his time with Texas Speech, he was part of a staff that helped to coach over 40 national titles, including three AFA national team titles. Beyond his collegiate experience, the students he has coached in high school Extemp have made numerous finals at national competitions, and have gone deep into outrounds at NSDA and the UK TOC.
Eva Reyes - Curriculum Co-Director for Interpretation
Eva is a doctoral student in Rhetoric & Language and is an assistant director for Texas Speech, where she was the lead coach for the 2021 NFA national championship by Kimberly Lee in Prose Interpretation. She recently completed her Master of Arts in Performance Studies at New York University. Having previously competed at Concordia University Irvine and Los Angeles City College, Eva has been in national out rounds for Rhetorical Criticism, Informative Speaking, and Drama, with national final round performances in Prose, Poetry, and Duo. She was a top 15 overall speaker for the National Forensic Association tournament and top 20 overall speaker for the American Forensic Association. As a multi-faceted performance artist herself, Eva cares deeply about building pieces with students that pierce imaginaries to create new worlds.
Randy Cox - Overall Curriculum Director
Randy Cox is the Director of Texas Speech and one of the founders of the UT National Institute in Forensics. A Distinguished Service Award recipient for the American Forensic Association National Speech Tournament and former national champion himself, his students have been graced with 81 individual national titles at both the high school and collegiate levels, and have also been awarded multiple national team titles including the NSDA Bruno E. Jacob cumulative trophy, the NFA Founders Award cumulative title, the NCFL Masterson and Founders awards, as well as six American Forensic Association NIET team titles, the most recent in 2018. As a former high school NSDA Diamond coach at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, his students appeared in NFL & NCFL national final rounds 22 times over a five year term, winning three national titles. He has been a part of every UTNIF summer since the institute began in 1994, having founded the Lincoln-Douglas Debate program and taught in every curriculum division of the individual events camp, and in 2020 was named one of the prestigious "Texas 10" favorite professors by alumni of the University of Texas at Austin.
Karon Bowers - Digital Curriculum Portfolio
A founding member of the UTNIF Extemp & Oratory programs, Karon was a UIL 3A State Champion in both Persuasive Extemp and Lincoln-Douglas Debate before going on to compete for Bradley University-- where she became the first junior and the first female to win both the Individual Sweepstakes championship at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and Pentathalon at the National Forensic Association National Tournament in the same year. A seven-time collegiate national champion, Karon remains the only person in college forensics to have won a national championship in all four public address events (Informative, Persuasive, After Dinner, and Rhetorical Criticism). Karon went on to co-coach the University of Texas at Austin’s first National Championship team while in graduate school and has been a volunteer coach in various capacities ever since. When full-time forensics gave way to the corporate world, Karon spent over 25 years on the forefront of learning technology in public speaking. She’s led research and development initiatives for the world’s largest learning company. Her strategic vision has resulted in some of ed tech’s leading products and services. Over 2.5 million learners have used programs that Karon researched, helped to develop, and brought to market. She has developed face-to-face and virtual presentation skills training programs for sales and marketing teams and was the curriculum director for the Extemp Division in 2019.
Extemp & Congress
Eric is incredibly excited to return to UTNIF, meaning he has now worked speech camps in 4 separate decades. A member of the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame, he became the NFA Pentathlon Champion by finaling all three genres at the same national tournament. Eric is also a multiple-time AFA national finalist and After Dinner Speaking National Champion. A graduate of Bradley University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois, Eric is a Professor of Communication Studies at Elgin Community College but also enjoys coaching for the University of Illinois at Chicago helping the young program to its first top-10 finish and first limited prep national championships. Eric believes speech, and UTNIF, changes lives. Communicate. Educate. Advocate.
Evan Ortiz is a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin double majoring in Government and Political Communication. In High School, Evan found moderate success with multiple state and national outrounds in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Congressional Debate. While competing on the Texas Speech team at UT, Evan has recemented his love for this activity. This past year, Evan was a finalist at the National Speech Competition in Extemp, a triple finalist at the American Forensics Association including a National Championship in Persuasive Speaking, and a double semi-finalist at the National Forensics Association in Extemp and Informative Speaking respectively. With this being his 4th year coaching UTNIF, Evan is ecstatic about returning and giving back to the community that has given him the world.
Meera is a rising Senior at UT majoring in government and sociology. She competes for the Texas Speech Team in Extemp, Informative, Impromptu, Communication Analysis, and After Dinner Speaking. She is currently the division coordinator for Informative Speaking. In high school, Meera competed in Extemp and Public Forum Debate at the state and national levels. During her time on the team, Meera has seen national out-rounds at both the AFA and NFA tournaments in Extemp, Informative, Communication Analysis, and Impromptu with two national finals in After Dinner Speaking. Meera has always loved working UTNIF and is really excited to return! She is looking forward to helping students become great performers and more importantly, powerful advocates.
René Otero is a rising Junior at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Cultural Anthropology. While regularly participating in Original Oratory, Congressional Debate and Informative Speaking as a high school student, he specialized in Extemp. René received second place at the Harvard Invitational, 4th at the UK Tournament of Champions, 3rd, 2nd, and eventually champion at the UT Longhorn Classic, and appeared in multiple other national and state finals-- culminating in the 2019 NSDA National Championship in International Extemp. A multi-talented performer, René has performed in After Dinner Speaking, Poetry Interpretation, Rhetorical Criticism, and Extemp at the collegiate level. He attended UTNIF in 2016 and is excited to return to the teaching end of a camp which has such an impact on the lives of students!
Katayoun is a rising Senior at UT majoring in biology and the Plan II Honors program. In high school, Kat competed in congressional debate, public forum debate, and extemporaneous speaking. Kat placed second at the UK Tournament of Champions and at the Extemp Tournament of Champions in 2018, and made her way to the NSDA National’s stage in the summer of 2018 as a finalist in Domestic Extemp. Since joining UT Speech, she’s expanded her events to include Communication Analysis and After Dinner Speaking (ADS) in addition to extemp, with her placing second at the 2021 National Forensics Association tournament in ADS and championing the 2019 HFO national tournament in communication analysis.
Katayoun attended UTNIF as a camper in 2016 and 2017 and can’t wait to return as a IE staff member in order to recreate the same impactful experience that spurred her love for speech and debate!
Caleb enters his Senior year at the University of Texas at Austin as a government major and former Co-Captain of Texas Speech. Caleb has seen multiple out-rounds at AFA and NFA in Extemp, Impromptu, Persuasion, and Rhetorical Criticism, and in 2019 he was the national runner-up in Persuasive Speaking at the NFA national tournament. In high school, Caleb had numerous out-rounds in Congressional Debate at Glenbrooks, Churchill, and the TOC. He was a finalist in Congress at 2016 UIL State, 2016 & 2017 TFA State, and at 2017 NSDA Nationals. As an UTNIF alum himself, Caleb is excited to be able to be able to come back and help teach for the fourth time!
Jordan Auzenne is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Radio-Television-Film and Political Communication. In 2019, she became the NFA national champion in Impromptu Speaking and was recognized as a top 20 overall speaker at the AFA NIET. She appeared in multiple national out rounds in the LPs, Communication Analysis and Persuasive speaking, including finals in Persuasion, Rhetorical Criticism, and CA . Jordan is a native Austinite, competing in out rounds of UIL State, TFA State, Extemp and NIETOC, and NSDA for Pflugerville High School. After completing her coursework, Jordan attended the post-graduate UT Los Angeles Film Program. After over a decade of competing in forensics, she's excited to continue her speech career in the same place where it all began: with UTNIF.
Frank Smith is a television and film writer who has been passionate about Speech and Debate since he first joined his middle school team. Though he now lives in Los Angeles, Frank is originally from Boston, where he competed on the Milton Academy Speech and Debate Team under the legendary Debbie Simon, former Interp Curriculum Director for the UTNIF. While in high school, Frank was a two-time State Champion, a four-time National Qualifier, and a competitor in numerous outrounds at national-level tournaments. His proudest achievements were being named an NFL (now NSDA) Academic All-American; finishing in the Top 13 at CFL Nationals in Dramatic Performance; earning a spot in the Top 13 at NFL (now NSDA) Nationals in Poetry Reading. His Final Round Runner-up placement in Dramatic Performance at the University of Pennsylvania Liberty Bell Classic at the start of his senior year proved oddly prescient, as he ultimately majored in Neuroscience and minored in French at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with Honors. Frank has coached numerous finalists at both National Tournaments, including last year's National Champion in Storytelling, as well as numerous national-level tournaments in Oral Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Original Oratory, Expository Speaking, and his first love, Humorous Interpretation. Frank currently works on Raven's Home for Disney Channel, but you can catch him on Netflix, in Episode 5 of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
Jackson Reich is a rising junior on the Texas Speech team, studying in the film department and Plan II Honors program. In collegiate forensics, Jackson has experience competing in interp, public address and impromptu speaking, and has competed in multiple national outrounds in Prose and Impromptu. During his high school speech career, Jackson competed in San Antonio, Texas, and saw outrounds on the state and national level in DI, Oratory, Duo, Prose, and POI. He has performed in final rounds at the Longhorn Classic, Glenbrooks, TFA State tournament, UC Berkeley, UKTOC, semi-finals at NSDA, and was the 2019 NIETOC champion in DI. As an UTNIF alumni, Jackson is excited to join the UTNIF staff once again, and looks forward to helping students craft and share their stories!
Dago is a rising Junior at the University of Texas at Austin, double majoring in Theatre & Dance and Communication studies. Dago has seen multiple out-rounds at AFA and NFA in all the interpretation events and this year he was an AFA National Finalist in Poetry, and the National Champion in Dramatic interpretation at the NSC national tournament. Dago is originally from the Rio Grande Valley, where he competed at PSJA North High school and saw multiple outrounds at UIL State, NIETOC, TFA State (where he was the 2019 Dramatic interpretation champion), NSDA outrounds in Dramatic interpretation and an NSDA national final in Poetry. Dago is excited for his 2nd UTNIF and he cannot wait to share his passion, skill and love for this activity with students who share the same!
Carli Hall is an upcoming sophomore on the Texas Speech team and is pursuing a degree in Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences at UT. During her first year on the team, Carli received 4th place in Dramatic Interpretation at AFA, 2nd place in Duo Interpretation at the National Speech Competition with her partner Kevin Ahern, and saw semi-finals at NFA. In high school, she competed as an independent on the Kentucky and national circuit, performing in the events Dramatic Interpretation, Poetry, Prose, and Program Oral Interpretation. Carli was the state champion in POI and state runner-up in both Dramatic Interpretation and Prose. She won the New York City Invitational hosted by Bronx High School of Science in OI, saw semi-finals at Glenbrooks and The Sunvitational, and placed in the top 30 competitors in POI at NSDA. Carli can't wait to be instrumental in creating a performance each interper is passionate and excited about this summer!
Kevin is a rising sophomore on the Texas Speech team, majoring in film. This past year, attending both AFA and NFA, he saw a national semi-final in duo interpretation and final in prose interpretation, and along with his partner Carli Hall, he was the NSC national runner-up in Duo. An alumnus of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Florida, he gained experience in Duo Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Oral Interpretation, and Program Oral Interpretation. Kevin was named the 2019 NSDA National Champion and final round winner in Duo Interpretation with his brother Kyle. Other significant accomplishments include the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Classic, back-to-back Florida state championships, final rounds at the Harvard Invitational, the Barkley Forum at Emory University (5x), the Tournament of Champions, and many others. As an UTNIF alum himself, Kevin cannot wait to share his love of speech this summer!
Giana was a multi-talented performer across several events in interpretation including Dramatic Interpretation (for which she was the 2021 NSDA National Champion), POI, and HI, and strongly believes a lot of her growth as a speaker has stemmed from her two years of attending UTNIF. Giana has competed at multiple NSDA Nationals and seen out rounds at the TOC, TFA state, the UC Berkeley Invitational, The Longhorn Classic, Glenbrooks, and Harvard as well as other tournaments across the country. Having completed her high school career at Austin’s LC Anderson HS, Giana will be attending Gonzaga University in the fall, and plans on majoring in Philosophy with a minor in special education, in hopes of pursuing a career in educational policy and analysis. Speech has allowed Giana to explore nuances of her own narrative including her sexuality and experience as a Latina, and she can't wait to hear what these new group of UTNIF goers have to bring to table!
Oratory & Informative Speaking
Erin is a rising Senior on the Texas Speech team, majoring in Government. This past year, attending both AFA and NFA, she saw a national semi final and final in prose interpretation, ultimately earning 4th at NFA. She also earned multiple quarterfinal awards in Duo and ADS. Her freshman year she saw national out-rounds in both Duo and Persuasive speaking. Before coming to UT Erin attended Jack C. Hays High school where she competed in Duo and Prose interpretation. She placed Second at TFA state her senior year in Prose Interpretation. Erin currently works as a Policy Analyst in the Texas House of Representatives, working on mostly environmental and women’s health legislation. A multi-talented competitor, Erin has shown a passion for acting and individual performance, and can't wait to experience another year at UTNIF with students who share that same passion and is eager to learn alongside them.
Ryan is a recent graduate of UT Austin where he majored in Humanities and minored in Entrepreneurship. His undergraduate work primarily centered around examining axioms of change and authenticity rhetoric through performance. Throughout his time at Texas Speech, Ryan competed in limited preparation, public address, and interpretation genres with the personal belief that there is always something that can be learned by competing in domains that are beyond one’s wheelhouse. Prior to competing for Texas Speech, Ryan competed in forensics throughout his secondary education at Midland Christian School and was a multi- finalist at TAPPS State and TCSIT. He returns to the UTNIF Public Address lab with a desire to foster enriching, discursive, and insightful lectures co-created to holistically blend productivity, creativity, and fun. Ryan’s hope is to inspire students to embrace forensics to be the best they can be right where they are—just beginning, well into their career, or somewhere in between.
Roy is a rising senior at UT Austin majoring in journalism. In Texas Speech, they are entering their second year as Team Captain and event coordinator for After Dinner Speaking. Roy competes in all of the Public Address events with national out-rounds in Persuasion, Informative and After Dinner Speaking. In high school, they competed in Extemp and Informative at the state and national level. Roy is most drawn to speech because it allows speakers to create. They are excited to return to UTNIF this year to help students use speech as a platform for advocacy & create work they can be proud of!
Come work with some of the top coaches in forensics! Our staff represents the highest levels of competitive accomplishment and education. No matter your incoming level or your future competitive goals, we have the staff that can help you reach for your dreams, be they competitive, performative, or educational. Our staff includes not only former national finalists and champions at both the high school and collegiate levels, but coaches of multiple national champions.
Interested? Apply Now!
Note: Staff listings are projected and subject to change. These listings do not include all staff. All staff are subject to final contractual approval by the University of Texas and passage of a criminal background check and can change without notice.