About Our Speech Director/Coach: James R. Roland III

James R. Roland, III is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the role of debate in urban education, and currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach and Engaged Scholarship for the Barkley Forum at Emory University. For over a decade, Roland has been working with middle and high school students and teachers, using speech and debate as a vehicle for social change and educational enrichment. He was the principal architect of the after-school “Computer Assisted Debate Program” which was nationally recognized as signature program of the White House Saving America’s Youth Initiative in 2007, and has served as a debate advisor to the U.S. State Department, Atlanta Housing Authority, Open Society Institute, and Urban Debate Leagues across the country from Denver to New York.

Roland is a Common Core State Standards expert, with over 12 years of experience teaching and using many of the same strategies required by the Common Core. Since the introduction of the Common Core, over 150 educators across the country have been received training by him directly impacting over 20,000 students. He was recently awarded the 2013 Paul Slappey Award by Emory University for his significant efforts to advance debate education. 

He has received coaching and service awards from Cross Examination Debate Association, American Debate Association, Vanderbilt University, Georgia State University, Emory University, University of Louisville, Omicron Delta Honor Society, Children’s Defense Fund, and National Association of Urban Debate Leagues. He is a frequent guest for national media during presidential debate season. Programs he has worked with have been featured in 60 minutes, New York Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Controversia, Chronicles of Higher Education, and Educational Leadership. Recently, President Obama recognized Roland and others at the White House for the groundbreaking and tremendous work he is doing in Atlanta and around the country.