Since its inception, over 200 UW undergraduates have trained to become speech consultants. Coaching speech provides benefits to both the trainer and the receiver. Visitors to the Center get high-quality feedback that can immediately improve their speeches. Coaches deeper their sense of rhetorical judgment, which makes them better speakers and consultants.

Matt McGarrity | Director

Matt is a Teaching Professor of Communication at the University of Washington.

Matt started the Center in 2006 and has trained every consultant since. Matt’s teaching and research focus on public speaking, argumentation, debate, and the history of rhetoric. He founded and continues to direct the University of Washington Center for Speech and Debate. He has won multiple teaching awards, including UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Toastmaster’s Communications & Leadership Award, and the National Speakers’ Association’s Outstanding Professor Award. His free online public speaking class has reached a million students in over 170 countries.

Affiliate Faculty

Justin Eckstein

Justin Eckstein (PhD, University of Denver) is an Associate Professor of Communication at Pacific Lutheran University and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Dr. Eckstein studies how a sensual social supplies citizens with resources for advocacy. He co-edited Cookery: Food Rhetorics and Social Production (University of Alabama Press), published in peer review journals, numerous edited collections, and conference proceedings. Dr. Eckstein’s scholarly contributions won him the 2020 Rhetorical Communication Theory’s Early Career award. Since 2015, he has worked with the Washington State Debate Coalition (WSDC) a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to supporting debates in the state of Washington. In 2020-2021, he was awarded a Fellowship at the Jackson Family Foundation. Since then, Dr. Eckstein has used his expertise to consult with likeminded groups that share his commitment to depolarization.

Current Consultants

Chloe Adams

Chloe Adams is a second-year student at the University of Washington and an intended Communications major. Her background in public speaking lies primarily in performing arts, in both onstage and executive roles; theatre has been an invaluable experience in helping her to develop a confidence, focus, and resilience that she is particularly grateful for. As a consultant, Chloe aims to support her peers in developing the same self-assurance. Everyone brings something unique and special in their approach to public speaking, and her goal is to help them express it.

Reese Allen

Reese Allen is a second-year student at the University of Washington pursuing a major in Communication and a possible minor in Political Science. Reese was new to public speaking prior to taking COM 220 in the spring of 2023. However, it has since become a passion of hers. She encourages students to get out of their comfort zone because as scary as public speaking may seem, it can also be exciting. Reese really enjoys writing speeches and is passionate about helping students add their personal style to their speeches. Reese is determined to create an inviting space for any student, despite their level of experience, and aid them in learning more about communication and public speaking

Jamie Christiansen

Jamie is a fourth-year student at the University of Washington with a major in Communication and a minor in Informatics. As a speech consultant, she strives to create a safe environment for students at all levels to feel comfortable asking for help. Last year she ranked first place in the Jody Deering Nyquist annual speech contest, and has experience being paid to perform in front of large audiences.

As a peer educator, Jamie strives to create a place where all students’ voices are heard. Regardless of the stage a speech is in, she is always happy to help. This could include finding ideas, creating slides, improving delivery, or even calming nerves. She encourages students to improve their public speaking skills with practice and feedback to grow confidently as speakers. Jamie is excited to work as a 2nd-year speech consultant and will assist each student with a strategy that maintains their unique style.

Ella Cuneo

Ella is a second year pursing a double major in communications and psychology. With a love for writing and reading, she is interested in people, how they communicate, think and interact! Ella believes that public speaking is a skill you can use in many areas of life and with some confidence and encouragement, public speaking is a skill you can see concrete improvement in. Ella knows that speaking in front of an audience can be very intimidating and works to provide an encouraging and comfortable space to make mistakes and learn from them!

Thy Van Do

Thy is a third-year student at the University of Washington majoring in Real Estate and minoring in Architecture. Thy has experience taking COM 220 and uses the skills from speech writing and speech delivery to help further her own academic and professional career. She’s excited to use those very skills and teachings to help fellow students work their way out of their comfort zones and into a place of confidence. Public speaking is one of the most beneficial real-world skills that helps you communicate what you mean with both conviction and passion. Thy understands the difficulty and anxiety that lies beneath public speaking, but will work hard with you to build up your own skillset and confidence.

Amber Haiwen

“Amber is a second-year majoring in Marketing and minoring in Education, Learning, and Societies (ELS). She is the President of Undergraduate Women in Business (UWiB) and a member of the American Marketing Association. Amber’s passion for public speaking comes from being on her high school’s competitive speech and debate team for four years. Driven to continue engaging with speech in college, Amber is currently an assistant coach for Sammamish High School’s team.
Amber admires how public speaking leverages storytelling and persuasion to uplift voices, inspire audiences, and empower change. Her goal is to provide the welcoming environment and necessary tools for speakers to feel comfortable expressing their ideas and delivering messages that matters. She believes that  everyone has the capacity to speak effectively, it just takes time, effort, and care.”

Corey Olson

Corey is a second-year student pursuing a double major in Journalism and Public Interest Communication and LSJ. He began his public speaking career in musical theater at the age of five and took his first public speaking course in high school. His extracurriculars include writing at The Daily and holding membership in UW’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter.

A significant aspect of Corey’s approach to tutoring is to foster a space of inclusivity and individuality. Specifically, he finds that recognizing and embracing a client’s unique mannerisms or quirks helps release any wariness around public speaking and ultimately enhance their ability to effectively address an audience. In addition, he looks at coaching as an opportunity for simultaneous growth between the client and coach, and wants to ensure that the client has all the tools necessary to feel and do their best.

Julia Santamaria

Julia is a second-year student at the University of Washington. She is a political science major. She is passionate in a wide variety of political issues, such as voting and educational rights. She loves learning about new issues and discussing them with others.

Julia was introduced to public speaking through her high school’s robotics club. She helped raise money for the club, so she had to regularly give business pitches with big companies (such as Boeing), which she found very scary. However, the scariest public speaking moment Julia has ever encountered (to this day) was when she had to give a speech to her 2,000-person high school, with 5 minutes notice.

Julia hopes to create a comfortable and encouraging environment for people to practice their public speaking, as she truly believes that public speaking can help with all aspects of a person’s life, regardless of who they are or what they do.

Dylan Stroh

Dylan is a third-year student majoring in Political Science with International Security and LSJ. Dylan competed in Speech and Debate from 2016 to 2020 and is currently a member of the UW Mock Trial Team. He believes his role as a speech consultant is to create a casual and constructive environment that revolves around the speaker’s unique and personal style.

Emily Suver

Emily is a second-year student double majoring in Communications and Sociology. Her background in performative arts and other various public speaking opportunities makes her capable and confident in coaching.

As a speech coach, Emily strives to foster a caring, comfortable and motivating environment. Emily wants everyone walking in her door to feel heard, seen and able to practice comfortably without fear of judgment, but rather improvement and growth. She is excited to coach this year and meet everyone!

Center Alumni

The Center has had many UW students serve as tutors and consultants. Many of whom continue to apply their consulting skills. Below are a few notable alumni of the program.

Mikayla Hall

Mikayla is a content editor for a non-profit, preparing opinion pieces and editing original content. She was previously a speechwriter for Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington.

“The most valuable aspect of tutoring at the speaking center was the opportunity to work with so many different people. You learn how to work with people to improve their writing and speaking, but in a way that highlights their own unique styles and voices. While I no longer serve in a speechwriting role, the ability to adapt my own writing and editing to other people’s voices is a skill I’ll carry with me to any job I may have down the road.”

Maddy Epstein

Maddy is currently a Senior Communications Manager at Microsoft. Prior to that, she worked for years as a Communications Account Director at the PR firm, WE Communications. Maddy has drafted executive speeches, helped manage Microsoft’s Environmental Sustainability Communications Agency Team, and launched a Corporate Responsibility Campaign for AT&T’s CEO. She also helped lead communications for Capitol Hill Block Party.

“Being a tutor in the Public Speaking Center has been integral to my career. I have heavily referenced my experience as a public speaking tutor in every job interview. Beyond landing the job, my experience has helped me perform in my job. Public speaking is a critical skill, especially if you work in the field of communications.  As they say – if you really want to learn something, try teaching it to someone else. My experience as a tutor has informed how I write speeches, add humanizing charisma to my writing, and help brief others for public speaking engagements. I am so grateful for my experience at the public speaking center.”

Elizabeth Woolf

Elizabeth is currently a speech and communication consultant at Woolf Communication focusing on engineering. She has also consulted in the Healthcare and Life Sciences industry. She consulted for Slalom and served as a keynote speaker for their events. She is a Make-A-Wish Ambassador, delivering talks in Washington.

Serving as a consultant in the Center “changed how I perform as a professional. Not only did it exponentially increase my skills in public speaking, but it taught me how to give and receive feedback – a critical part of career growth.”

William Ray

William is an Analytics Lead for Google Cloud Storage. He has worked in economic consulting, preparing analyses for various cases, such as the lawsuits against mortgage originators after the 2008 financial crisis.

The Center is “a great opportunity to learn to do a consulting-type role where you meet 1:1 with others and offer them support. I also feel strongly that the best way to learn something is by teaching. Often when I have to speak now I self-reflect by thinking about what advice I’d give to someone who came to the speaking center. It was a great use of my time and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of it in college.

Hannah Doyle

Hannah Doyle is a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. As a Foreign Service Officer, her mission is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing U.S. interests abroad. She graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Scandinavian Area Studies.

“My time at the UW Speaking Center was fundamental to cultivating effective communication skills. The knowledge I gained as a speech consultant – how to think on my feet, how to build rapport, and, most importantly, how to listen – informs my work on a daily basis.”