Matea Ivanovic
Executive Director

Matea Ivanovic was born in the city of Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia and resettled in the U.S. in 1999. She holds 11 years of policy debate experience coaching teams in Idaho, Utah, Texas, and California. As a refugee who was able to attain both a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s in Communication on a debate scholarship, she is a passionate advocate for the positive impact of policy debate on marginalized students.

Matea credits the skills she learned in debate for enabling her to pursue a meaningful and productive life path. This includes academic appointments as an instructor for the University of North Texas and Research Fellow at Texas A. & M. In 2017, Matea moved to Portland to pursue a more community-driven career as a non-profit fundraiser and community organizer. Residing in East Portland, she is always interested in trying a new recipe, taking a walk, or talking city politics.



Jake Weigler

Jake grew up in Portland and debated for Lincoln High School. He later attended New York University, where he founded their policy debate team. Jake was also a coach in the New York Urban Debate League, and later served as the coach for George Washington University’s debate program.

In his professional life, Jake is a partner at Hilltop Public Solutions – a political public affairs firm with offices across the country. He previously worked in the offices of the Oregon Governor, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. He lives in Southeast Portland with his wife and two daughters.



Russell Hanes

Russell grew up in Nashville and debated for University School. He later attended Columbia University, where he was the president of the policy debate team, as well as the treasurer of the Model European Union team. Russell volunteered for the New York Urban Debate League, and he worked as a debate coach for Damien High School, California; Potomac School, Virginia; and Lakeridge High School, Oregon.

Russell is currently the mathematics department chairperson at Northwest Academy, a private arts-focused school for grades 6-12. He has written textbooks on debate and statistics and continues to publish articles on debate and teaching mathematics. Russell lives in Southeast Portland with his two daughters.



Dylan Amo

Dylan grew up in Portland and debated for Lincoln High School. He later attended American University in Washington, D.C., on a debate scholarship. Upon graduation from A.U., Dylan remained for 2 years as the coach and he began a career in political advocacy. In 2008, Dylan returned to his childhood home of Portland and took over the family construction and property management company but continues to remain active in politics. In his spare time, Dylan has been a volunteer debate coach/teacher for Lincoln High School and is a board member for the Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation.

Dylan lives in Lake Oswego with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.



Amanda Haines
Board Member

Amanda came to Portland from Boise, Idaho, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science. Prior to transferring to Boise State, Amanda was a proud member of the Wake Forest debate team (2010-14). During that time she attended a variety of regional tournaments, often receiving speaker awards and advancing to elimination rounds. Currently, Amanda is a law student at Lewis & Clark Law School. She is an active member in the Student Bar Association (SBA) as the Vice-President of Diversity & Inclusion; a leader of the local Asian Pacific American Law School Association (APALSA); and President of the National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (NAPALSA). For fun, Amanda loves to explore Portland’s beautiful scenery with furry friends!



Autumn Mercado
Board Member

Autumn was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. She participated in speech and debate throughout high school. While attending California State University, Bakersfield, she volunteered as a judge for debate competitions.

Autumn moved to Oregon in 2015 to attend law school at University of Oregon School of Law. There she was actively involved in Moot Court, winning regional and international negotiation competitions. She and her husband enjoyed living in Portland so much that they decided to permanently relocate. She is currently a criminal prosecutor in the Portland Metropolitan area.



Brit McLean
Board Member

Brit grew up in Dallas, Texas, but spent her summers here in Oregon. After graduating from the University of North Texas in 2006, she made Oregon her permanent home. Brit was a Peace Corps volunteer, serving in Ukraine, where she met her husband, Walter. She used her debate skills to easily persuade him to make Oregon his home, too.

Brit currently works for Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (HD 44) as Deputy Legislative Director. Brit credits her tenure as a high school and college debater with the preparation needed for a fulfilling career in political and policy realms. She currently lives in North Portland with her husband and their ill-behaved cat.