Coaching Staff

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Dr. Leah White, Director of Forensics

Dr. White received her BA degree in Communication from Concordia College, her MA in Speech from Kansas State University, and her Ph.D. in Communication from Arizona State University. As an undergraduate competitor she was an AFA national finalist in Communication Analysis and quarter-finalist in Impromptu Speaking. As a coach she has been honored to work with several national champions. Leah’s academic interests include performance studies, feminist theory and autobiography.

Professor Jim Dimock, Assistant Director of Forensics

Professor Dimock received his BA degree in Speech Communication and History from Black Hills State University in South Dakota, his MA in Communication Studies from the University of South Dakota and his MFA in Forensics from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Jim began his forensic career competing for Rapid City Stevens High School and continued while an undergraduate at Black Hills State. He actively competed in extemporaneous speaking, impromptu, persuasion and debate. He was not so successful at duo and prose. His academic interests include ethics and rhetoric.

Jessica Benham, Graduate Assistant

Jessica graduated in 2012 from Bethel University with her BA in Communication Studies and Political Science. She competed for Bethel's forensics team, focusing on parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas debate, limited preparation, and public address. She was a two-time Minnesota state champion in parli debate. Jessica is currently pursuing her MA in Communication Studies; her research is in the area of critical/rhetorical studies, specifically examining the influence of gender and disability on communication.

Katie Brunner, Graduate Assistant

Katie received her BA in Organizational Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2009. She competed with the UW-Eau Claire forensics team for 4 years, in the categories of prose, poetry, Duo, CA and persuasion. She is currently pursuing an MFA degree in Forensics and is the recipient of the Andreas Graduate Fellowship. Her research interests include rhetoric in religion, performance and critical class studies.

Brandon McCasland, Graduate Assistant

Brandon earned his MA in Communication Studies from The University of Alabama. Throughout his two years coaching the Alabama Forensic Council, Brandon worked with several students who advanced to quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds at both the 2013 and 2014 AFA-NIETs, including the 2013 national champion in Poetry Interpretation. As a collegiate competitor for Texas State University – San Marcos, Brandon competed in several national interpretation out rounds, including the final round of Duo at the 2012 NFA national tournament. He is currently pursuing an MFA degree in forensics.

Jesse Marden, Graduate Assistant

Jesse completed his B.S. in Communication Studies and Political Science from Kansas State University in Fall 2013. While attending KSU, he was a David and Mary Koch Fellow in the Study of Classical Liberal Thought and authored a senior thesis extending the research of George Gerbner's Cultivation Theory to queer populations. He further competed with the KSU Wildcats Forensics Team throughout his undergraduate career, qualifying all four platform events and both limited preparation events for the American Forensics Association national tournament for four consecutive years. He was a quarterfinalist in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking at the 2012 AFA. He twice attended the Interstate Oratorical Association national tournament as well, advancing to semifinals in 2010. Currently, Jesse is completing his M.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in queer theory and social activism, in addition to completing graduate certificates in Gender and Women's Studies and Nonprofit Leadership.

Mandy Paris, Graduate Assistant

Mandy received a BA in English with minors in Communication Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013. She then spent a year volunteer coaching at the University of Alabama before coming to MNSU to pursue an MFA in Forensics. As a competitor, Mandy was a quarterfinalist in After Dinner Speaking and Duo at the 2012 and 2013 AFA-NIET as well as a quarterfinalist in Duo and Prose at the 2013 NFA National Tournament. Mandy enjoys critical race theory, dogs and Yankee candles.