Wayne State University’s Kelly Young receives American Forensic Association Distinguished Service Award

Kelly Young, Ph.D., associate dean of Wayne State University’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, was recently awarded the American Forensic Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

The AFA Distinguished Service Award recognizes long-term service to American intercollegiate competitive speech and debate communities and argumentation scholarship that has a positive impact on the field — such as current research and educational practices, community development, and consideration of career as a model for AFA professionals.

Kelly Young

“The AFA is an important professional organizational to me and I was honored to serve as its vice president and president during an incredibly difficult time,” said Young, who is also an associate professor of communication in Wayne State’s Department of Communication. “I am incredibly grateful to the organization for recognizing my career of service to the AFA and the larger competitive speech and debate community.”

The American Forensic Association announced the winners of its research and service awards on Nov. 15 during its annual business meeting. Last year’s winners were not selected soon enough to announce during the 2022 business meeting, so they and the 2023 awardees were announced during this year's meeting.

Young was awarded the 2022 award for his service to the organization while service as president during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his tenure, he helped increase the visibility of the association with many outreach efforts across the country to competitive speech and debate teams.

In 2021, he organized and co-hosted the online National Debate Development Conference and co-edited the proceedings from the conference. Young also revamped the organization’s websites, while also creating and maintaining its social media accounts. His term as president as from 2020-2022, while he served as vice president from 2018-2020.

“I believe that Dr. Young exemplifies service to the community as an educational leader and champion of collegiate forensics,” read one of the award nomination letters on Young’s behalf. “Most recently, Dr. Young’s work on planning and executing the National Debate Development Conference and then editing the proceedings, stands out as a major accomplishment of service to the AFA, its current and future members, as well as argument scholars and debate practitioners.”

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