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Meet the Dream Team!

Get to know the DiF Founders and our amazing full-time employees!

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Leah Shapiro

CEO and Co-Founder

Leah is the CEO and co-founder of Debate it Forward. For the past three years, Leah has overseen the growth of DIF from its humble beginnings to the organization it is today.

Hailing from Minneapolis, Leah graduated from the University of Chicago in 2018 with a B.A. in Comparative Human Development. She has much experience with debate, participating in the national debate circuit (for Lincoln-Douglas), and was once the 3rd best debater in the nation. Leah has also worked extensively with children in hospitals, preschools, camps, and as a tutor.

Leah hopes to see Debate it Forward grow into a national non-profit that will continue to enrich its students with the principles of debate. Interestingly enough, Leah is an amazing pogo sticker, able to go up and down a driveway with ease!


Josh Aaronson

COO and Co-Founder

Josh is the COO and co-founder of Debate it Forward. Along with Leah, Josh has worked tirelessly making Debate it Forward into an amazing education non-profit.


Josh graduated with a B.A in Economics at the University of Chicago. Born in Chicago, he knows a lot about the communities that Debate it Forward serves. Josh’s commitment to service is exemplified in his serving over 1700 hours for the education non-profit City Year. He also has knowledge of debate skills from his years in Model UN.


Josh is very excited about the increasing number of opportunities and challenges Debate it Forward will bring him, almost as excited as he is for his favorite restaurant, The Rainforest Café!


Symone Bridges

Campus Manager

Symone Bridges is a South Side native of Chicago. Symone has obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Music at Chicago State University and is currently earning her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership & Administration with a focus in Higher Education at Chicago State University as well.


Symone has received numerous awards over the last several years, and last year, she honored as one of the top 100 Black Women of Chicago for her contributions in the community and in the educational field from Endure Charities. With determination, hard work, and creativity, Symone seeks to break barriers and bring value to whatever she puts her mind to doing.


Andy Tousignant

Chief Impact Officer

Andy has 30+ years of management experience in corporate, non-profit, and higher education settings. Andy joined DiF as a founding board member but stepped down to join the team in 2020 to help connect strategy to results.


Andy received his BA in public policy and management from Dickinson College and his master’s in theology and counseling from Loyola University Chicago.

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