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Bay Area Urban Debate League selects Mya Whitaker as its next Executive Director

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Bay Area Urban Debate League (BAUDL), a non-profit organization in Oakland, CA that partners with local school districts, ensuring all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential as engaged learners, critical thinkers, and capable civic advocates, has promoted Mya Whitaker to Executive Director. Whitaker’s appointment was the outcome of a comprehensive executive search.

Providing strategic oversight to BAUDL and overall executive leadership, Whitaker assumed her new role on September 6, 2022.

For the past 6 years, Whitaker has served as BAUDL’s Program Director, promoted from her previous role as the organization’s Junior Program Director. Working with BAUDL for the last 13 years, Whitaker also brings a unique history to the organization as she was the first BAUDL League Champion as a high school student. Forming genuine and lasting relationships with students, partners, staff, and Board has been key to Whitaker’s career success. In addition to her work experience, Mya’s personal commitment to BAUDL’s mission will continue to be an additional driving force of success in her new role.

“As a BAUDL alumna, I know firsthand, how influential and impactful debate can be,” said Whitaker. “After seeing many of my peers succumb to violence as a way of life, I was determined that this would not be my destiny. I am committed to seek and employ methods to prevent this violence and encourage youth through a conduit of social change and, as Executive Director, am thrilled to be leading and empowering our community to be successful through debate.”

Whitaker holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from San Francisco State University and is additionally an Emerge California leadership program alumna.

“Mya embodies BAUDL’s focus on helping youth succeed beyond societal expectations,” said Darin Snyder, BAUDL Board Chair and Partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. “The Board was looking for an experienced professional with a deep belief in our mission; someone with proven, robust appreciation for the power of debate to change lives. We are delighted to promote Mya to the role of Executive Director and know she will continue to make a positive impact on BAUDL’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

BAUDL retained KEES, a national executive search firm for nonprofits, as its executive search partner earlier in 2022, launching a comprehensive search. Whitaker was selected from a talented pool of top finalists. Leading the search efforts were Board Chair Darin Snyder, Search Committee Chair Michael Burshteyn, and Search Committee members Ben Crosson, Stephanie Eisenberg Todd, Kina Mandelbrot, and Craig Wickersham.

“Mya’s passion for debate, combined with her personal interest in and commitment to Bay area youth, is a winning combination for the BAUDL community,” said Laura Weinman, KEES Vice President. “The entire KEES team congratulates BAUDL and looks forward to seeing the continued positive change for California students to reach their full potential in their chosen future path.”


KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams with dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public sectors. KEES has partnered with several Debate Leagues across the country on a number of searches for Director of Development and Executive Director roles. A woman owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For more information, please visit


BAUDL serves students who attend resource challenged high schools and middle schools in Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, and Emeryville, CA. BAUDL helps grow debate programs by working with teacher-coaches to develop a curriculum for their classes and after school practices. BAUDL facilitates student participation in debate competition by annually hosting 10 local debate tournaments for all BAUDL students and supporting a select group of the most committed students to travel across the country to national debate tournaments. Learn more at


Jamie Sheffler,


Mya Whitaker, 510-815-9441,