Meet the Directors

Ken YoungKen Young
SFI Director

Ken Young is the Director of Forensics at Bradley University where he coaches the award-winning Bradley Speech Team. Ken has coached many students to national and state championships at both the high school and collegiate levels in every oral interpretation event.  He is recognized by both the American and National Forensics Associations including his 2016 induction in the the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame. In 2010, Ken was awarded the Outstanding New Forensic Coach Award by the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament. Ken has worked with high school students from all across the country serving as a consultant and as the head of oral interpretation curricula for teams and institutes in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and California.

Justin HelmleyJustin Helmley
Public Address Curriculum Co-Director

Justin Helmley is the Assistant Director of Forensics at Bradley University.  Justin has coached students to national and state championships, on both the high school and collegiate level, in multiple public address events, including Oratory and Informative Speaking.  He emphasizes individuality in terms of coaching, and focuses on catering to specific student needs to motivate students to reach their full potential.

Tanya MelendezTanya Melendez
Public Address Curriculum Co-Director

Tanya Melendez is an Alumnus and the Interim Assistant Director of Forensics for the Bradley University Speech Team. Tanya has coached multiple high school and college national finalists and champions over the last fifteen years in all three genres of competition, including Illinois State Finalists in SOS and OO and NFL finalists in OO. She emphasizes developing strong research and writing skills in addition to being a great speaker, and enjoys teaching the process to young forensicators.


Zoe RussellZoe Russell
Limited Preparation Curriculum Director

Zoe Russell is currently an assistant speech coach at Ball State University, where she pushes her students to regional and national success, specializing in the limited preparation events. A former high school debater, Zoe enjoys teaching argumentation and critical thinking skills to her students and showing how these skills can take their extemporaneous and impromptu speeches to the next level. Zoe is very excited to join SFI this year as the Limited Preparation Curriculum Director.  A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Communication and minors in Political Science and Religion, Zoe saw multiple national outrounds in both limited prep and public address events, securing UNI as a top ten nationally ranked team. 

Rebecca BuelRebecca Buel
Director of Interpretation Curriculum

Rebecca Buel is currently the Director of Forensics at Monmouth College, working to rebuild a small program in Central Illinois from the ground up. From 2008-14, she served as the Director of Individual Events at the University of Northern Iowa, coaching multiple students to national elimination rounds, and leading the team to a top ten finish at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament three years in a row. Rebecca was honored to receive the American Forensics Association's Outstanding New Coach award in 2013, and is passionate about working one-on-one with students to develop their skills in critical thinking, performance, and advocacy.