Jean Perry, Director of Forensics

For the past thirty years, Jean Perry has coached her many students in all forensics events, producing numerous State Champions and a National Champion in Lincoln-Douglas debate. She has been the Director of Forensics at three high schools and three colleges. She herself participated in debate, extemporaneous speaking, and dramatic interpretation. Jean holds her bachelors and masters degrees in Speech Communications from the University of Southern California.

In addition to directing the Forensics Program at GCC, she is the Chair of the Language Arts Division at Glendale College.

Office:  AD 217A     Phone:  x5504

Ira Heffler, Head Forensics Coach

Ira Heffler has extensive coaching experience at both the high school and college level.  A graduate of California State University, Northridge, Heffler coached his high school students to the State and National Tournaments and is now doing the same at GCC. Rather than emphasizing a specific area of competitive speech, Heffler enjoys coaching all the events.  Although a published author and a produced screenwriter and playwright, Heffler’s true passion remains with his students.  

But be warned: once Heffler “finds” you, he won’t let go until you’ve attended a speech and debate tournament.  And then you’ll be hooked.

Office:  AD 207     Phone:  x3113

Michael H. Miller, Head Debate Coach

Michael H. Miller has been deeply involved in both high school and college debate since 1965.  At the University of Houston (TX), from which he graduated with a Political Science in 1970, Michael won first place in more than twenty major college debate tournaments, and was Top Speaker at the National Debate Tournament his senior year.  He won the National Professional Debate Tournament in the Summer of 1970 before moving to California. 

Michael began coaching debate full-time in the Fall of 1970 and, among other achievements, mentored the NDT National Champions of 1971 (UCLA), as well as the high school Lincoln-Douglas National Debate Champion in 1982.  He was named the California High School Speech Association "Speech Coach of the Year" for his work at Notre Dame High School in 1982-83, was unanimously elected the University of Houston Forensics Society Hall of Fame in 2007, and was a featured character in the 2008 documentary film, "Debate Team." 

Michael co-founded Glendale College's NFA Lincoln-Douglas debate program in the Fall of 2008, and, with Professors Perry and Heffler, helped four GCC students qualifty to attend the NFA National Tournament in debate in 2009.

In addition to his debate training, Michael earned his Juris Doctorate degree (J.D.) from the Southwestern University School of Law in 1984, and is a licensed trial attorney.


 Desi Chavez-Appel, Assistant Forensics Coach

As an undergraduate at Central Washington State University, Desi Chavez-Appel competed in forensics.  She won several awards in oral interpretation, informative and persuasive speaking.  After going on to finish her Bachelors degree in religion at Vanguard University, Costa Mesa, Desi earned her Masters in Communication Studies from California State Univesity Long Beach.  She has taught courses in public speaking, interpersonal communication, and human communication.  She is a published author in the Journal of Family Communication in concert with four other researchers.  In addition to being an instructor, Desi is an assistant coach with GCC's Forensics and Debate Team.

                                                                 Office:  AD 217A  


Sarah Black, Assistant Forensics Coach

Sarah Black earned her AA degree from Glendale College and is a former member of the GCC debate team. She graduated summa cum laude from Mt. St. Mary’s college with a Bachelor’s degree in English and is pursuing an MA in Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Sarah Black works full-time at GCC, has three beautiful children, and loves reading, argumentation, football, and Scrabble.  She looks forward to judging at tournaments, and helping the team in whatever capacity needed.

 Libby L. Curiel, Assistant Forensics Coach

Libby Lee Curiel graduated with honors from California State University Los Angeles in 2005 with a Bachelors degree in Public Relations and again in 2007 with a Master degree in Communications Studies. She received special recognition in graduate studies and served as a graduate fellow. Libby is a nationally recognized speaker by the American Forensics Association, competing at nationals in Duo Interpretation and Communications Analysis, and placing fifth in the nation in Duo. She currently serves as a faculty member at local community colleges and universities teaching communication courses and coaching forensics.

She is the mother of a wonderfully talented and gifted son. Libby and her son spend their free time playing sports, participating in church activities, traveling, and relaxing at home.  Some of Libby’s favorite activities include acting, traveling, scrapbooking, landscape design and gardening, horseback riding, relaxing at the beach, and of course, coaching forensics.

 Ted Levatter, Assistant Forensics Coach

Professor of Speech, Ted Levatter, has been teaching at Glendale Community College since 1982. He received his B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his M.A. in Speech Pathology from Cal State, L.A. Before coming to the college, Ted toured with a folk-music group and did voice work for film and television. 

His courses at the college include Public Speaking, Voice and Diction and Oral Interpretation of Literature. He specializes in coaching oral interp and voice and diction and is also a California licensed Speech Pathologist.  

 Andrea M. Stark, Assistant Forensics Coach

 Andrea is a Jeff Award winning actress from Chicago. She holds an MFA in acting and has performed in numerous productions in Chicago, the east coast and Los Angeles. Her favorite roles include Little Red in Into the Woods, and Laura in The Glass Menagerie.  You may have seen her in Tide commercials (among others) or on CBS’s Early Edition. Andrea’s theatre career is multifaceted. She has run a casting company (features) while also running her own acting studio as well as working as “Chicago’s premiere acting coach,” as she became known in the wilds of Chicago. As a casting director she specialized in working with young actors and she chronicled her ideas in her own column in Chicago’s theatre trade paper, PerformInk. All of this going on while she too was acting on stage and TV.

Her Youth Ensemble Theatre was the most popular Chicago theatre experience for young actors, and was the starting point for Los Angeles actress Jessy Schram, Chicago musician Evan Bregman and many actors currently on academic and professional stages. Three Ensembles of young actors were in production for five years working with organic improvised pieces, traditional scripts and Shakespeare.

She currently hosts a cable show entitled “Film Forum” broadcasting from Glendale Community College’s TV station. She is featured in the Indie Journeyman,, which has recently won at the Twin Rivers Multimedia festival and was an Official Selection at the Idaho Panhandle International Film Festival. She recently shot another Indie, Peterson Manor, in festivals in 2009.

She is published in the 2007 Edition of, Public Speaking: Challenges and Choices
by O'Hair, Stewart, paperback, Bedford/st Martins –Edition which features
Her original theatre exercises for the public speaking class and for dramatic and oral interpretation. She is currently working on an acting text for Kendall Hunt Publishing (2009)She taught Speech and Communication at GCC for eight years and continues to coach for the highly decorated GCC Speech and Debate team, she is thrilled to continue to be a part of the team as she is one of their greatest fans. She currently teaches Voice for the Actor, a class she wrote, for the Theatre Arts Divison at GCC.

She feels greatly influenced, as a teacher and actress, by her late mentor Uta Hagen, and by her Linklater voice teacher, Claudia Anderson of DePaul University. She is a Reiki Master and studies energy and healing and works intuitively with students and clients.  She teaches privately and at university level. Most of Andrea’s students, adult or younger, come to her because of her creativity, clarity, humor, and her precise ability to diagnose exactly where the student needs to go, and her focused and caring ability to lead them to that place.

She is an accomplished actress, director and writer. Her original piece After The Ball, is in production in Colorado, she has been honored as a finalist in Short Story by GlimmerTrain Magazine and published in Wide Open Magazine and she currently is the staff writer for the not-for-profit, Ninos del lago,
Andrea has worked as a theatre professor and private coach since 1991, helping actors of all ages find their voice, their character and themselves.

Alessandrina "Rina" Sweeney, Assistant Forensics Coach

Alessandrina (Rina) Sweeney received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies from Loyola Marymount University and her Master’s degree from California State University at Northridge in Communication Studies. She has over eight years experience in argumentation and debate loves to engage in the “art of persuasion” in everyday life. She specializes in rhetoric.  

Rina is currently an adjunct professor at Glendale College, Woodbury University, and East Los Angeles Community College. Her philosophy is that every student who walks into her class reminds her of the wonderful opportunity she has to be a part of his or her life.During her free time, Rina loves to be with her husband and their new bundle of joy, Nico, being at the beach, reading, scrapbooking, yoga, cooking, and reinventing herself – because why be the same when you can be new and exciting?

I look forward to getting to know new faces!

Lisa Rau, Assistant Forensics Coach

Lisa Rau is an alumni of the San Francisco State University (SF State) Speech & Debate Team, where she competed in informative speaking, communication analysis, after-dinner speaking, persuasive speaking, drama, prose interpretation, duo interpretation and programmed oral interpretation. She was named Platform Speaker of the Year for both the 2006-7 and 2007-8 seasons by the Northern California Forensics Association and received the distinction of All-American from the American Forensics Association (AFA) in 2008. Additionally, Rau served as AFA District I (CA, NV, HI) representative with co-coach Robert Cannon, a two-year term during which they initiated several legislative changes to AFA national individual events competition. At SF State, she was named valedictorian of the College of Humanities and graduated summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in both creative writing and speech communication.

In addition to coaching speech performances, editing speech scripts and the occasional GCC Speech & Debate Team Rock and Roll Band piano cameo, Rau works as an editorial and social media professional. Currently, she serves as corporate secretary and social media associate for 
BetterGrads, a nonprofit that mentors high school students for college. In 2010, Rau was named an Annenberg Fellow by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, where she is working on a masters degree in broadcast journalism.

Janice Tessman, Assistant Forensics Coach

Janice is currently working toward degrees in communication studies and linguistics at California State University, Northridge, with the goal of becoming a professor.  She discovered her love of debate as a student at GCC and is returning for her third year with the team, this time as assistant coach.  Education is her passion, and she believes that the critical thinking skills learned in argumentation are invaluable not only in higher education but in everyday life.

Janice is married and has three children who have grown up much too fast.  Although her favorite pastime is learning, she also enjoys reading, traveling when she can, and puzzles of all kinds.

Tiffany Brain, Assistant Forensics Coach

Tiffany Brain joined the GCC Speech and Debate Team in 2007 and held positions as Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice President. A background in Theatre and the Performing Arts assisted in Tiffany's success as she earned many duo and solo awards. 

Some of the accolades Tiffany received over her three year competitive career are: Phi Rho Pi Prose Silver Medalist, HFO Duo Champion, 1st Place POI performance at Spring Champs, and Duo Quarter Finalist at both NFA and AFA. Tiffany looks forward to coaching for the GCC team as she works on a Masters in Organizational Leadership at Woodbury University.