Mark A. Hernandez Sr.
Executive Director

Mark A. Hernandez Sr. was a highly successful speech and debate competitor for James Logan High School under the tutelage of Tommy Lindsey Jr. Mark currently volunteers as a speech and debate coach for CK McClatchy High School after a successful career in the corporate environment, working for world class organizations such as Apple Inc. In these organizations, Mark received numerous awards and accolades within sales and marketing. Mark competed in Humorous Interpretation, Duo, and Policy Debate on the national circuit. During his speech and debate career, Mark accumulated accolades ranging from first-place speaker awards in policy debate, to competition in the final rounds of predominant speech events, to winning policy debate invitationals.

“There is no extracurricular activity in the educational environment that can better endow students with real-world aptitude than debate, and thus no better activity for a student to participate in.”
– Mark A Hernandez Sr., Executive Director, SUDL

Doug Dennis
Development Manager

From his beginnings as a debater in the Golden Gate Speech Association, to his time in college policy debate, classroom teaching and running speech and debate programs, Doug Dennis has spent four decades passionately advocating for access to debate. Doug has a passion for providing enriching educational opportunities to low-income and underserved youth. After two decades in the classroom as an English teacher and two diamond speech and debate director, he decided to go into academic and educational consulting to have a better access point to serve underserved students, which is how he came to the Sacramento Urban Debate League. Doug is a graduate of University of Missouri-Rolla. He is interested in bringing his fundraising, event planning, and programming knowledge to bring added value to the SUDL family.

Serena Jones
Assistant to the Executive Director

Serena was a national circuit debater under the tutelage of Mark A. Hernandez Sr. for her four years of high school. She accumulated many policy debate awards throughout her time debating for SUDL. Serena now volunteers her time coaching Albert Einstein’s debate team while attending Sacramento State University. As a student, Serena took a leadership role in promoting SUDL’s mission to educate low-income students. Now as a SUDL graduate, she wishes to assist students with a platform to explore a rigorous academic activity that fosters skills to help them succeed throughout life. To do so, Serena is now the helping hand that Mark was once to her. She hopes that by working with SUDL, she will be able to give back to her community by providing hope to a new generation of low-income Sacramento debaters.


Erik Anderson
Head Intern

Erik Anderson was born in Sacramento and grew up in Stockton, California. He attended Sac State to study communications, where he became involved in the debate program on campus. He believes debate is important because it creates an educated electorate and it helps students improve their, writing, speaking, and research abilities while encouraging creative and critical thinking. It is a thrilling and life changing experience that will expose one’s weaknesses and help one turn them into strengths. He became part of the Sacramento Urban Debate League to give back to the community he loves by helping create an opportunity for less fortunate students to participate in debate with the hope of changing their lives for the better.

Bruce B. Mercado

Bruce Mercado is a student at California State University, Sacramento studying communications and was only recently introduced to debate but has always been intrigued by the practice considering his learning that “Everything is an argument.” Born and raised in Stockton, California Bruce had always had strong passion in giving back to the community through various organizations, volunteer, and leadership opportunities. He is excited to be a part of the SUDL team in which he hopes to be driving force and motivating factor to ignite passion in students through communication, collaboration, and sense of community. Bruce is expected to graduate with his BA this May of 2016 where he will continue his interest with argumentation and debate as a determined Law student.

Devon Hickey

Devon was born and raised in Vacaville, California. He attended Elise P. Buckingham Charter Magnet High School and was an active member of the student body. Along with participating in several sport and theater programs, Devon also contributed as a member of his high school student leadership. During his senior year, he was a crucial voice in developing Freshmen Forum. A student mentorship program, designed to ease the transition into high school for freshmen. Connecting them with fellow classmates and seniors, who served as mentors.

After high school graduation. Devon was admitted into Solano Community College with an interest in political science. Devon joined Solano’s forensics team during his final year at SCC and traveled with the team to compete at the national tournament of Phi Rho Pi in 2016.

He is now currently at UC Davis as a third-year undergrad and is preparing to take the LSAT, with the ambition of entering UC Davis Law.

Brandon Olmos
Photography and Social Media Intern

Brandon is a student at Fresno State University. Brandon is also a member of the Barking Bulldog Debate Team there. Being that he is fairly new to debate he feels that it has opened some doors and has definitely been a blessing. Even though he is new, the debate community has very accepting and helpful to Brandon. He wants other students to participate in debate and gain educational and life skills from this activity. He feels, in debate, “you attain better speaking and research skills. This helps prepare you for some of the high school and college classes. It also prepares you for a speech you may have to do in front of a crowd. Although, besides from educational skills, one gains social skills as well. In debate you interact with people that you may not encounter in your day-to-day life.” This is part of the reason he chose to intern with SUDL, to help others realize that debate is a great tool to harness and to help them with their future. Brandon is happy to be working with SUDL and take pictures for us and help make a difference in the lives of others.

James Stevenson
Web Designer

James Stevenson has been involved in policy debate for over ten years, competing and instructing across all styles and skill levels. He began debating in northern Utah, and was a consistent outround participant in the Mountain West debate circuit. He graduated with a B.A. in philosophy and international relations from the University of Puget Sound, where he was a National Debate Tournament qualifier and CEDA Nationals outround participant. He has coached high school and college teams to several state championships, TOC bids, and nationals qualifications. His current interests include law and computer science.

Participating Coaches

Autumn Boylan Valerio, M.P.H.
SUDL Coach

Autumn Boylan Valerio has been involved in competitive policy debate for over 25 years. In college, she competed for Los Rios Community College then transferred to San Francisco State University where she continued to excel. Ms. Valerio began her debate coaching career while in college, volunteering at several high schools in the greater Sacramento region. She also served as a coach for the inaugural years of the Bay Area Urban Debate League. Upon graduation from SFSU in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies, with an emphasis in social movement theory and political communication, Ms. Valerio went on to coach at CSU Fullerton and then later at Folsom Lake College. Ms. Valerio currently works in California’s public behavioral health system, focusing on advancing strategies to improve health outcomes and achieve health equity for racially, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse communities. Ms. Valerio also serves as the President of Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc., a youth-serving organization in Oakland focused on improving mental health outcomes for youth of color using hip hop as a catalyst for change and development. Ms. Valerio earned a Master of Public Health degree from Drexel University. She can be reached via email at

Zhanchong “Max” Li
SUDL Coach

Zhanchong “Max” Li was born and raised in Guangdong Province, Southern China, and immigrated to the United States in 2010. Max graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland, California, where he competed in policy debate under the Bay Area Urban Debate League and on the national circuit. During his three years of high school debate, Max became familiar with various styles of argumentation, and achieved success nationally. Throughout the years he won policy debate invitational tournaments, and consistently reached elimination rounds. His senior year, he qualified to the Tournament of Champions as the first team from the Bay Area Urban Debate League to do so.

Max is currently a student at University of California, Davis studying biomedical engineering. Although he no longer competes in speech and debate, he is passionate about giving back to the community through becoming a part of the Sacramento Urban Debate League, to introduce students to the activity he loves and to help them find opportunities for success.

Wesley Loofbourrow
SUDL Coach

Wesley Loofbourrow has been involved with the debate community for two decades as a competitor, coach and critic. He competed in Lincoln-Douglas and a variety of speech events at Jesuit High School under Stephen Goldberg, winning multiple events in the Sacramento Valley Forensics League, Lincoln-Douglas invitational tournaments, and competing in late outrounds at both the California State and NFL Nationals Tournaments. He received a B.A. in Political Science from San Francisco State University and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law. Wesley believes debate provides young scholars with opportunities no other school activity can match, and strongly supports the SUDL mission to expand this invaluable activity into schools that lack access to debate.

Joshua Rayburn
SUDL Coach

Joshua Rayburn competed in college forensics with Solano Community College and the University of the Pacific for three years where he won numerous state and national awards in parliamentary debate, NFA LD debate, parliamentary LD debate, extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, dramatic duo, and program oral interpretation. During that time he was also a teacher’s assistant for an argumentation and debate course, tutored novice competitors, and worked as a judge for several high school tournaments. During his time at Pacific, Joshua discovered a love for management consulting through the school’s student consulting group, the Integrated Development Group, where he was made vice-president and helped oversee the completion of projects for nonprofits in Kenya, Egypt, Namibia, Colorado, and California. Joshua is now a consultant with Andrew Chang & Company, a Sacramento-based management consulting firm that works at the intersection of the public and private sectors, providing end-to-end management consulting services across a breadth of industries and issues. Joshua’s love for debate comes from a love of communication and for learning to see any issue from multiple perspectives. He is keenly aware of the impact other coaches and volunteers have made in his life and eager to do the same.

Teacher Facilitators

Julieann Skvarla
Teacher Facilitator

Julieann Skvarla is a native of California. She attended San Francisco State University, earning her BA is History and her teaching credential. Following graduation, she traveled extensively in Europe, returning to San Francisco to begin her teaching career. Life took her to Dallas, Texas , St. Paul, Minnesota and eventually to Kirkland, Washington where she taught at Redmond High School. While in Washington, Mrs. Skvarla earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Seattle University and became a National Board Certified Teacher in History/Social Science. In 2006, Mrs. Skvarla returned to California to teach at Rosemont High School where she taught Advanced Placement World History for 6 years. In 2014 she joined West Campus staff teaching AP World History. When not teaching, Mrs. Skvarla enjoys her family, traveling and gardening.

Tia Summers
Teacher Facilitator

Tia Summers was born and raised in Roseville, California. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials from Sacramento State University. Ms. Summers is entering her second year at Rosemont High School as a Social Science teacher. Although Ms. Summers has minimal experience with debate, she is inspired by the students who empower themselves with the valuable lifelong skills that develop through debate. Ms. Summers is incredibly grateful to be a part of SUDL and is motivated to provide the students with the support to make Rosemont’s Debate team competitive.

Zac Jareb
Teacher Facilitator

Zac is in his fourteenth year as a social studies teacher at Sacramento New Technology High School. Social justice and societal betterment are what motivate him as an educator, and he is excited to advance those values in concert with the SUDL. When not at school, Zac can be found in a Midtown gym training for a strongman competition, at his home over the causeway in Davis with his wife and cats, or traveling domestically or internationally.

Tyler Chaffin-Hoover
Teacher Facilitator

Tyler Chaffin currently teaches on level and Honors English for 9th grade students at Hiram Johnson High School. Born and raised in urban Sacramento and having graduated from Sacramento state with an English degree and a minor in Philosophy, Tyler understands and has a passion for argument and the equipping of young people.  As a teacher facilitator, Tyler looks forward to the development of students involved in speech and debate and the life skills that will blossom from their participation.