Our Team

The World Scholar’s Cup draws on the spirited contributions of staff, volunteers, and affiliates and partners all over the world; there is no way to introduce all of them here. Below are just some of our core team members:

   
Daniel Berdichevsky is the program's founder and alpaca-in-chief. In high school, he achieved the highest score in the history of the United States Academic Decathlon; he has been a professional nerd ever since. For Daniel, Decathlon was life-changing: it introduced him to cross-curricular thinking and to the joy of teamwork, inspired him to overcome his fear of public speaking, and launched him into college with new confidence. It was after studying science, technology, and society and public policy at Stanford and then public policy at Harvard that Daniel had three realizations: first, that there was no opportunity like the one he had been given for students around the world; second, that such a global program could be for students in the 21st century what Decathlon had been for him in the 20th; and, third, that he had just discovered his life’s work. Daniel has also led strategic innovation for CASIO, worked (with great non-success) in venture capital, and volunteered for progressive political campaigns, including Obama for America. He spends much of his time on the road helping to host rounds, speaking at schools, and losing his credit cards. Daniel loves little more (except maybe alpacas) than meeting and learning from students around the world.
 
Tom Brazee is the program's resident programmer and lead scoring specialist and the member of team most likely to have developed an allergic reaction to the word certificate. A computer science instructor and Academic Decathlon coach for many years in the great state of Nebraska, Tom has been working with the World Scholar's Cup (and its predecessor, DemiDec) since 1999 (when Daniel briefly mistook him for a curriculum writer); his travels began ten years later with a trip to Singapore and have continued ever since. Tom's many distinctions at the World Scholar's Cup include being the only staff member ever to fall asleep on stage during the Scholar's Show and one of the few to have survived the 2010 Scholar's Scavenge; he also jams a mean air guitar.
 
Jeremy Chumley (a.k.a. "J-Chum") is the program's Managing Director and the father of a young alpaca named Kai. When Jeremy is not championing the program at schools in new countries or conducting advanced statistical analysis of registration data in order to predict attendance at the 2024 Global Round, he can be found wandering into dodgy Kuala Lumpur mini-marts, undertaking mileage runs on Aegean Airlines, and retrieving dead drops from abandoned rental cars. No one else on the team can match his facility with prose, his fascination with packaging, or his nose for a good burger (the world needs his burger blog). Jeremy is also known for a peculiar obsession with the Polyphonic Spree and for employing his special dialect (known as “Texan”) in ways that intermittently baffle the rest of the team.
 
Isabel Hahn ("Izzie") began her alpaca journey as a scholar in Bangkok before moving to Geneva and helping to organize the inaugural round in Switzerland. She first volunteered at the London Round in 2014; she quickly became a regular volunteer before joining the World Scholar’s Cup team full-time in 2016 and flying her first long-haul flight. (She has since become an expert in error fares and blocked rows.) On any given day she can recruit a host school in a new country, negotiate with a global round convention centre, host all the elements of a regional round, or drink hot sauce straight from the bottle. Now pairing her role as Global Program Director with a course of studies in Law at the London School of Economics, Izzie can still often be found on the road, whether presenting the program to scholars in Cairo, opening the Budapest Round on her own, or applying her expertise in tanning (which is, it turns out, at least a three-day process). When studying in London, she also takes care of the World Scholar’s Cup espresso machine, Mr. Presso.
 
Joseph Harr (codename: Joga) is one of our leaders of outreach and curriculum instruction. An experienced international educator (after a slightly less international childhood in lamentably alpaca-free South Dakota), it was during his time as a Learning Support teacher in Jordan that Joseph was introduced to the World Scholar’s Cup: first as a coach at the Dubai II Round in 2012 and in 2015 as the host of the first-ever regional round in Amman. The World Scholar's Cup left Jordan two days later with a delicious bag of dates and its newest full-time team member. When he is not walking from airports to hotels, Joseph enjoys answering questions from scholars about his shiny head, learning languages, losing things, looking for vegan paradise, and spreading the program into exciting new frontiers, from Mongolia to Mauritius.
 
Jacqueline Khor (“Jac”) somehow puts up with all of the team members on this page. A global round champion before the global round was called the Global Round, Jac has been part of the program since 2009. Today, she is our team’s resident challenge writer and person most likely to point out a dangling preposition, as well as the team's latest vegetarian and tofu burger advocate. Outside of World Scholar's Cup, she edits DemiDec materials for the Academic Decathlon and is sometimes seen on the National University of Singapore campus, where she is completing a degree in sociology.
 
Dylan Kroft first began his journey with the program as a scholar in 2012, showing up to his first debate shaking with nervousness, excitement, and two cans of green tea. A year later, he helped his brother and former global round champion Terran Kroft start the (then-unofficial) World Scholar's Cup Facebook group. From the science of transportation to the history of espionage, Dylan grew to love each and every one of the subject areas he explored as a scholar. After following in his brother’s footsteps as the top scholar at the 2016 Bangkok Global Round, he joined the team in 2017. When he isn't presenting at schools or drinking soda pop, Dylan can be found sourcing flagpoles, crafting banners for regional rounds, or trying to obtain sneakers as sharp as his cheekbones.
 
Kevin Kuo (“KK”) was the 2012 Global Round champion, representing Taiwan, but first achieved infamy in the program through his skillful use of a telephone at the 2015 Global Round Scholar’s Ball. Within months of joining our team over milkshakes in Montreal, he helped organize and host the first-ever rounds in Norway and Uganda; on any given day, he may be found upgrading the solid-state hard drive on a teammate’s laptop, plotting the best flight path from Hanoi to Shenzhen for an emergency alpaca rescue mission, surviving a keynote speech, or deejaying a Global Round Awards ceremony. No one knows better than Kevin all the things that break at the World Scholar’s Cup, including this website, because he fixes all of them.
 
Chauncey Lo first competed in the World Scholar’s Cup in 2012, winning no medals in his first year; he quickly fell in love with everything from its quirky plushies to its rampant punnery, both of which he has contributed to mightily since retiring from the competition as the highest scoring scholar at both the Global Round and the Tournament of Champions in 2015. He joined our team full-time in 2017, and now spends his time presenting the program to students and administrators, scheming up non-violent Scavenge tasks, and waving pineapples around at the Scholar’s Ball. When he is not dodging scholars trying to Roll with him, Chauncey enjoys shopping for blue shirts and arguing against pineapples on pizza.
 
Albert Ma first found his voice as a debater at the University of Hong Kong, where he founded the Hong Kong Parliamentary Debating Society. He first volunteered at the Hong Kong Round in 2015, but it wasn’t until the 2017 Hanoi Global Round that Albert became the team’s first-ever Director of Athletic Achievement, demonstrating that his prowess at the 100 meter dash could be a great asset to the team. Nowadays, Albert has shifted his focus from running debates to just running (including away from the Lebanese police). Today he can be found writing emails in the form of Shakespearean sonnets, photographing kittens in all corners of the world, and sharing his love of the program with students of all backgrounds.
 
Patrick Henry McDonald III is a former library director and graduate of Stanford University, where he studied philosophy and drafted the plots of imaginary sitcoms. The team’s former vegetarian, Patrick now eats almost exclusively meat. He loves a good book and a good game of pick-up basketball, and is a passionate consumer of sports nutrition bars, Coen Brothers movies and board games; you can find some of all three (especially nutrition bars) in his luggage. After briefly teaching English in Japan, Patrick volunteered at his first World Scholar’s Cup round in 2010, and first joined the team full-time in 2014. He loves spreading the pwaa and getting to meet the fantastic scholars, coaches, teachers and parents of the WSC community; in 2017 he became the director of the Global Round cultural fairs, in which capacity he has learned the value of bulletin boards and cultural sharing.
 
Thishin Moodley eats, sleeps and breathes debating (unlike Tom, who actually sleeps while eating and debating.) He began high school in Pietermaritzburg frightened by audiences and unsure how to structure a compelling argument; a year (and many practice sessions) later, he was given the chance to represent his province at the South African National Debating Championships. After recognizing the impact of debating in his own life, he went on to coach several high schools and a provincial squad; it was in this role that he first met Daniel (and Jerry) and learned about the World Scholar’s Cup. A few emails later he was applying for his first passport and leaving home to help spread the value of debating in a whole new way—including as our team’s newest camp instructor. He spends most of his down-time on programming projects, reconstructing automobiles, and binge watching The Great British Bake Off.
 
 
Alisya Reza's first entanglement with the program was as a scholar in 2015, where she found herself drawn to its inclusivity and shameless nerdiness. After winning first place overall writer at the 2016 ToC, she found herself handing out postcards to both staff and scholars to share how much they had meant to her experience of the program. Just months later, she volunteered for the Jakarta Round, and eventually skipped her graduation to do the same at Dubai II. Now a full-time team member, she spends her time presenting the program to teachers and students internationally and helping to put on rounds in new and old places alike. When she is not scouting out root vegetables or tripping over staircases, Alisya can be found reviewing scholar's show acts, inviting ambassadors to our global events, and explaining how to spell and pronounce her name correctly.
 
 
Josephine Richstad is the Director of Curriculum at the World Scholar's Cup. She holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA and a BA, also in English, from Columbia University. She first joined DemiDec as a writer in 2008, beginning her alpaca-centric collaboration with Daniel over breakfast at a Malibu diner shortly before going underground at a Charles Dickens festival. She is pictured here at her desk in sort-of-upstate New York, where she divides her time between tending her family (including a daughter who infamously savaged Daniel's favorite stuffed alpaca, and a son whom she did not name after Jerry), teaching herself economics, masterminding the production of DemiDec materials, and not taking international flights.
 
Vishal Verma is the World Scholar's Cup Program Director for India and one of the leaders of our Global Rounds. After a chance meeting with Daniel at a conference in Singapore in 2012, he was infected by the alpaca virus and does not want to be cured. When he is not driving nine hours to bring the program to a school in the Himalayas, he is busy introducing students to astronauts at NASA and to diplomats at the United Nations - or to his favorite wax statues at Madame Tussaud's. Vishal has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Telecom Engineering from Pune University and an MBA in Finance from the Symbiosis Institute. He spends his free time on photography and reading.
 
Julie Wang was once a scholar in Beijing, and still remembers walking out of her first round with an armful of alpacas and no idea what she had done with her weekend. Now, she is no longer surprised to find herself trying to convince dubious customs officials in Myanmar that the stuffed animals in her suitcase are child-safe and contraband-free. After winning the Global Round, Julie asked herself if she would do it again; the answer was yes, so she joined our team as first a volunteer and now a full-time staff member. She has quickly become the program’s in-house designer and an outreach research specialist; when she isn’t sleeping in cardboard boxes or comparing her height to a giant Jerry’s, she can be found stalking school websites, assisting coaches and scholars from afar, and organizing rounds in cities that she thinks are in Africa.
 
Aimee Watts was first involved with the World Scholar's Cup as a participant, competing in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. When she moved to alpaca-less Brazil, however, she went from arguing debate motions to arguing for the first-ever round in Rio de Janeiro—which took approximately as long to plan as the 2016 Olympics. Aimee found herself drawn to the organizational side of the program, enjoying everything from alpaca distribution to the drafting of the Scholar’s Scavenge. Now a full-time member of our team, she is wandering the globe presenting the program at student assemblies and to teachers and administrators. In her spare time, she can be found binge-watching Galavant, munching on biscuits, losing battles to jetlag, and wearing jackets at all temperatures below 25 degrees C.
 

The many jetlagged members of the World Scholar's Cup traveling team would like to thank their friends and families for their relentless love and support as they tote alpacas all around the world; it helps make the tough times bearable and the good times truly joyful.