November 29, 2022

Rao Named to Richmond Forum Board of Directors

Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Professor of Communication Anand Rao joined the Board of Directors of the Richmond Forum this summer and will serve a three-year term to support the work of The Forum and its Speech and Debate Initiative. Rao, who serves as chair of UMW’s Department of Communication and Digital Studies, has presented at dozens of national and international academic conferences, and regularly serves as a consultant and workshop leader for academic programs in the United States. He has more than 25 years of experience with speech and debate at the high school and college level and served as a consultant on a documentary about the National Debate Tournament.

The Richmond Forum is the largest nonprofit lecture series in America and produces five programs each year. The biggest and most influential names in the world have taken the stage at The Richmond Forum, including past U.S. presidents, sitting heads of state and leaders from the sciences, arts, business and more. In 2018, the Richmond Forum created the Speech and Debate Initiative with the goal of having high-performing speech and debate activities in every public middle and high school in the Richmond region by 2025, the 250th anniversary of Patrick Henry’s historic speech. National Speech & Debate Association Executive Director Scott Wunn recognized the importance of this initiative, stating “the Richmond Forum has the potential to spark a national trend in which independent nonprofits work closely with local school districts, statewide organizations and the NSDA to strengthen speech and debate in their communities.”

Rao has regularly contributed to Richmond area debate student workshops and this August was an invited speaker for The Forum’s inaugural coaches workshop training 25 new speech and debate coaches in the region.