Student safety is the priority

LearningLeaders coaches agree to abide by internationally-recognized child safeguarding policies as well as LearningLeaders-specific policies at all times when working with students.
  • UN Convention of the Rights of the Child

  • Keeping Children Safe Guidelines (UK)

  • LearningLeaders Safeguarding Policy

  • LearningLeaders Team Handbook


The World's Top Coaches.
The World's Top Results.

Coach Reese

Public Speaking

Coach Méabh

Elite Debate

Coach Ivan

Elite Debate

Coach Evgenii


Coach Stella


Coach Mike

Public Speaking

Coach Andy

Competition Prep

Jon May

Harvard Camps

From all over the world, our coaches share one common trait:
a desire to inspire.

Meet Andy Hume

Andy Hume has lived and breathed competitive debate for three decades. While a student, Andy won the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), the most prestigious and competitive debate competition in the world. He began his career as a trainer and tournament organizer with the English Speaking Union in his native Scotland. Overall, he has judged, coached, and run debate tournaments and workshops in over 20 countries worldwide.


At LearningLeaders, Andy serves as the Head of the Access Team, guiding coaches to support student preparation for tournaments and leagues. Prior to coming to LearningLeaders, Andy was one of the top debate coaches in South Korea. He was the coach of the WSDC Korea National Team for 4 years and lead them to multiple elimination round finishes. He is a student-centered coach who guides students to solutions through a process of critical questioning and intensive post-round feedback.
Coach Andy is also sought around the world to serve on Chief Adjudication Panels (CAP). He has served on the CAP of WUDC twice, as well as the European Debating Championships and many tournaments in Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and China (including Taiwan and Macau), and has published or co-authored a number of articles on debate.


Students that Coach Andy has worked with have won numerous global and international events, including the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC), China World Schools Debating Championships (CWSDC), the Asian World Schools Debating Championships (AWSDC), Korean National Championships at both school and university level, and the EurOpen Tournament.

Meet Evgenii Aferin

Evgenii Aferin brings with him from Russia a wealth of debating and coaching knowledge to LearningLeaders.  As a two-time World Debating Champion in French, numerous achievements across Europe, North America, and Asia, and as a member of the Russian National Debating Team, Evgenii has many experiences to share with students.


At LearningLeaders, Evgenii serves as a Coach in both the Academy and Elite programs, guiding students in acquiring key public speaking and debating skills.  Prior to joining to LearningLeaders in 2020, Evgenii taught drama at the Tsinghua University Primary School.  Additionally, he has worked in well-known media outlets such as CCTV+ and Sputnik News Agency as a Senior Editor and Reporter. 


Coach Evgenii speaks multiple languages, including Russian, English, French, and Chinese, allowing him to support students at all levels of linguistic capabilities.  Having become a World Debating Champion in French, his second language, Coach Evgenii can pinpoint students’ language acquisition opportunities and challenge areas to best coach them and help them progress. 


Students Coach Evgenii has worked with have won numerous international and regional events, including National High School Debating League of China (NHSDLC) National Championship in Public Forum, and the Shanghai Public Speaking and Debating Championships (SPSDC) in both the Public Forum and Parliamentary Debating divisions. 

Meet Ivan Velentey

Ivan Velentey has a rich background in education and has worked with students of all ages, coaching them in not only debate but also Math, English, and History. As a competitive debater, he has achieved high results in numerous prestigious competitions including winning the University College London Debating Championships, and being a finalist Oxford University Debating Championship IV, the Cambridge University Debating Championship, the European Universities Debating Championship, and the Shanghai International Debate Open. 


At LearningLeaders, Ivan serves as both a coach and the lead of the competitions program, most often working with students to prepare for domestic and international debating championships.  Prior to joining LearningLeaders in 2018, Ivan was a competitive debater and coach, developing debate curriculum for over three years at the Moscow Institute of International Relations and at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. 


Coach Ivan is one of Belarus’s most decorated debaters in competition, having traveled all over the world for debating championships and being recognized by international organizations for his skills and impact.  Among his achievements, the New York Times invited him to the Great Athens Debate.  Additionally, he coached students to a French World Debating Championships before moving to Shanghai. 


Students Coach Ivan has worked with have won numerous international and regional events, including the Asian World Schools Debating Championships (AWSDC), multiple National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Regional Championships in China, and the Shanghai Public Speaking and Debating Championships (SPSDC) multiple times. 

Meet Méabh Mcmahon-Flanagan

Méabh McMahon-Flanagan has been debating since 2014, and is the Champion of the Queen’s University Belfast Intervarsity tournament, as well as a Finalist and Top Ten speaker of competitions throughout the UK and Ireland.  Méabh also has extensive adjudication experience, judging and chairing out-rounds in tournaments in Europe and North America.  


At LearningLeaders, Méabh serves as a Coach for the elite program, guiding coaches to support preparation and competition for tournaments and leagues.  Prior to joining LearningLeaders in 2019, Méabh has coached debate and public speaking classes for the English Speaking Union, including their prestigious International Public Speaking Competition, which had competitors from over 50 countries. Méabh also taught debating courses for students in Ireland, the UK and USA, and recently concluded a two-month tour of the USA as part of one of the oldest and most highly-regarded international debating tours in the world, where she coached debating at 19 universities in over a dozen states. 


Coach Méabh’s love for debate has also resulted in many socially-impactful endeavours.  Méabh’s research is award-winning, and she has worked on UN-funded projects during her work as a Research Assistant.  Méabh is also particularly enthusiastic about helping female students overcome the barriers they face to speech and debating, and was even a student contributor to the Irish Times for feminist issues. 


Students Coach Méabh has worked with have won numerous international and regional events, including the China World Schools Debating Championships, the Asian World Schools Debating Championships, and the National High School Debate League of China Shanghai Regionals.

Meet Michael Hauge

Mike Hauge has spent over a decade in Shanghai and has been coaching students in public speaking and debate for nearly as long.


At LearningLeaders, Mike serves as Founder and CEO. Prior to coming to LearningLeaders, Mike worked with the team at Crimson Investment, an international private equity firm specializing in middle-market leveraged buyouts. At Crimson, the bulk of his responsibilities were to develop and implement market expansion programs within Asia for Crimson’s portfolio companies. Prior to joining Crimson, Mike worked at AAC Technologies, a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company and a global-leading mobile acoustic component designer and manufacturer. At AAC he reported directly to the Chief Strategy Officer, leading analysis of acquisition and partnership opportunities in the mobile technology sector.


Mike’s interest in public speaking and cross-cultural communication began at an early age and he has since travelled all over the world to judge at various public speaking competitions. Most recently, each year from 2014
– 2021, he has been invited to serve as a judge at the World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championships, taking him five different continents in a judging capacity. As a speaker, he has also been asked to present at
the Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Conference and multiple TEDx conferences, among other speaking engagements.


Students Coach Mike has worked with have won numerous international and regional events including the China World Schools Debating Championships, the UC Berkeley Novice Public Forum Debating Championships, and have advanced to multiple Grand Finals at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships.

Meet Reese Johnson

Reese Johnson joins LearningLeaders as a Lead Coach of our Public Speaking Program from Brooklyn, New York, USA.  As one of the most decorated public speaking competitors in all of the United States, Reese is a three-time USA National Public Speaking Champion. She is also former Captain of the Western Kentucky University Forensics Team, winners of the USA National Asynchronous Speech Championships (ASC). 


Reese’s expertise includes nearly every competitive format of Public Speaking. Most recently in 2022, Reese won the national Collegiate Sweepstakes Championships in the Overall Category, Duo Interpretation, and Prose Interpretation. She also placed second nationally in Informative Speaking and reached the National Semi-finals in Dramatic Interpretation and Poetry Interpretation.  


Throughout her competitive career, she’s competed in speech for over 8 years and in over 10 national final rounds of Duo Interp, including NSDA, NIETOC, NCFL, AFA, and NFA.   


Reese’s coaching experience is robust, as she helped coach the Duo National Champions at NSDA in 2019.  Among coaches, Reese is particularly known for her emphasis on Thesis Writing, Character Work, and Blocking and Sound Design. 

Meet Stella Liu

Stella Liu joins the LearningLeaders team having had educational experiences both in Shanghai (at Shanghai American School) as well as in Canada. During high school, her involvement with Model United Nations and World Scholar’s Cup inspired her to become a public speaking and debating coach for middle school and high school students.


At LearningLeaders, Stella serves as a coach on the Academy Team. She specializes in working with middle school students, guiding them in acquiring key public speaking and debating skills. Prior to joining LearningLeaders, Stella worked as a writing tutor, STEM teacher, and English-as-a-Second-Language instructor.


“She explains difficult things more easier than I thought it what be.”“Coach Stella cares about all of us and gives us helpful comments on where we should improve on.”
Coach Stella’s experience helping students achieve great progress in their early years is excellent. Students have shared the following about Coach Stella’s coaching style:
“The activities are very interesting and everyone can participate in the class (actually LearningLeaders time is the best time throughout my weekend)!"


Students Coach Stella has worked with have won numerous regional and local events, including winning the World Scholars Cup Shanghai Round. Additionally, other students Coach Stella has worked with have come in second place in the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Junior Debating event and have placed highly in the Shanghai Public Speaking and Debating Championships (SPSDC) Public Speaking event.

What We Stand For

Show Your Work.
Truth. Especially When It Hurts.
Work Hard. Win. Celebrate.
From an Opinion.
No 7's Allowed.
Make Mama Proud.


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