Role Model Awards

WDI Role Model Awards

There are amazing women who encourage us everyday.  These awards have been donated by members of the WDI community in the names of those women.  From one generation to the next…we are bringing more women into the debate community.

The Gloria Cabada-Leman Award is sponsored by Marcia Tiersky. Gloria is a great inspiration for women debaters. She was only the second woman ever to be named the top speaker at the National Debate Tournament. The first had been named over 30 years earlier. It would be more than twenty more years before the third female was named top speaker at the NDT. As a Wake Forest debater, having a living legend like Glo as a recent alumna was extremely meaningful to me, and I’m sure to the other female debaters there as well. It showed us that even the thickest glass ceiling could be broken by the right person. I hope that the debaters who will be attending the Women’s Debate Institute will remember those who came before and take courage that they, too, can reach the very highest pinnacles of success, be it in debate or in life.

The Sandra Shuster Award honors the mother of Kate Shuster, a successful policy debater for the Albuquerque Academy in high school who won the 1996 National Debate Tournament for Emory University. Sandy, as she was known to friends, was a great supporter of Kate’s career as a debater and as a coach and educator. Many of the outfits Kate wore to high school debate tournaments were hand made by Sandy, who was extremely proud of Kate’s competitive successes and various teaching opportunities, including service on the board of the Women’s Debate Institute. Sandy, an avid traveler early in her life, always greatly enjoyed hearing stories from Kate’s debate trips, especially in later years when Kate became the head coach of the United States “world schools” debate team that travels around the globe. Sandy was a life-long supporter of public libraries and an astute political observer, always happy to wade into conversations about controversies being covered in the national and New Mexican media. Sandy passed away in the fall of 2012.

The Gini Shaw Award honors the mother of Jeff Shaw, who debated Lincoln-Douglas for Canby (Ore.) High School and competed in policy debate for Lewis & Clark College in Portland. Gini supported Jeff’s debate career in numerous ways, and her hard work and sacrifice as a single mom inspired him to continue with debate — and to co-found the Women’s Debate Institute. Gini is a nurse in Salem, Ore.

The Gail McDougle Award is supported by Dr. Cullen Hendrix in honor of his mother, Rev. Gail McDougle. Gail debated at Sam Houston High School in Houston, TX, where she won the Texas State Championship in policy debate. She is currently the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Salem, Oregon. Gail’s debate skills have made her an inspirational and truly unique minister. She has also an unwavering commitment to social justice, and was awarded the 2009 Salem Peacemaker’s Award for her advocacy of peace in the community.

The Kyla Sommers Award is donated in Kyla’s honor by Kevin Bertrand. Kyla is a senior debater at George Washington University. Kyla exemplifies what student-debaters should strive to achieve. She is a top student, a talented debater, and an incredibly hard working individuals. In addition to excelling at school and debate, Kyla is also a scholarship track athlete.  But most importantly, Kyla’s personal values and passion for social justice issues are what make her special. She is the type of person who strives not just to win debate rounds, but also to promote a social conscience and sense of social responsibility in the debate community.