Meet the Team
Over the years, DemiDec has evolved into a vigorous team of former competitors, curriculum experts and professional writers around the world. Though many participated in Decathlon or Scholar’s Cup, some had never heard of either until they encountered alumni later in life. Others are coaches and classroom teachers, active and retired.
Dan Berdichevsky, President
Daniel Berdichevsky (a.k.a. DemiDec Dan) founded DemiDec in 1994. He obtained his undergraduate and first master's degrees from Stanford University, and his second master's degree, in Public Policy, from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. In his varied career, Daniel has been a columnist, a venture capitalist, an editor, a teacher, a frequent flier, a camera designer, a Clippers fan and a jaywalker. Daniel is often spotted at Academic Decathlon and Scholar's Cup competitions with alpaca finger puppets. When asked, he describes himself as a professional geek.
Curriculum Development Manager
Charles attended Stanford University on a full scholarship, earning a Bachelor's degree with distinction in Economics. In addition to his academic experience, Charles has enjoyed a successful career as a professional dancer and disc jockey, and learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese while living in Chile, Mexico, and Brazil. Charles is an accomplished dance, Spanish, and economics instructor, and has also taught preparation courses for the SAT, GRE, and TOEFL exams.
Ryan Hickey, Curriculum Development Manager
Ryan Hickey has multiple years of experience with the SAT, SAT II and other standardized exams. Before joining DemiDec, Ryan worked directly with many ESL students to help them improve their writing and comprehension abilities. Ryan graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in history. While at Yale, he was recognized as a Yale Club of New York City Scholar. Prior to college, Ryan attended St. Paul's School, receiving the elite Cook Scholarship and graduating magna cum laude with distinction in mathematics, science, and humanities. Outside of the professional and academic worlds, Ryan enjoys singing, fly-fishing, hiking, and baseball. He has lived in New Hampshire and Connecticut, and currently resides in Montana.
Michael Huang, Lead Web Designer
Michael Huang began designing for DemiDec even before he graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Human-computer Interaction. A fascination with art has led him to focus on design with computer characteristics. He has recently studied graphic design in the Netherlands and traveled through China and India. Currently living in California, he find himself surrounded by cooking, health, and good books.
Tania Asnes, Editor, Writer
Tania Asnes is a writer and editor specializing in literary analysis. Following her early induction into Phi Beta Kappa and her entrance into the National Slavic Honor Society, she graduated from Barnard College in 2005 with a B.A. summa cum laude in English (Creative Writing) and a minor in Russian. Tania is also a proud alumna of Barnard's Centennial Scholars and Writing Fellows programs. Other than dodging alpacas (they tend to dart by her desk), Tania enjoys cooking, exercising, and reading works of magical realism in her New York City apartment.
Dean Schaffer, Acadec Curriculum Director
Dean Schaffer led the Taft High School Academic Decathlon team to its first national championship in over a decade. He went on to study English at Stanford University. He is well known among DemiDec's Acadec subscribers for editing two generations of Power Guides (in 2006 and in 2007) and for his appearances at competitions, where he, too, is often spotted with alpaca finger puppets. In his spare time, he plays the guitar, edits things other than Power Guides, and rents his house out to television shows.
Chris Yetman, Acadec Curriculum Manager
Chris Yetman graduated from high school one year before the Academic Decathlon came to Arizona. Ironically, his alma mater soon won the first state championship. His teams at Canyon del Oro High School have finished in the top three in Arizona for the last 5 years, winning the state championship in 2006 (by 76 points). Even more importantly, Chris has seen dozens of lives transformed by participation in the Academic Decathlon. The Siemens Advanced Placement Math/Science Teacher of the Year, Chris also enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, hiking, and rock climbing.
Lead Children's Developer
Chuan-Mei recently spent ten months as an expatriate in Beijing studying rural-to-urban migration on a Fulbright Fellowship. The project lent itself to several exciting excursions in rural China, including a trek along the China-Burma border and a desert visit near Pakistan. It also gave her the opportunity to sample and write about many different cuisines. She graduated from Stanford University in June 2005 with a B.A. in Human Biology and an M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature. In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, taking long naps, making beaded necklaces, speaking in semi-intelligible Spanish, and sampling delicious world cuisines. Chuan-Mei's credits at DemiDec include several poetry guides and six volumes of the Double Take series for children.
Tom Brazee, Lead Programmer
Tom Brazee works the backend magic that makes much of DemiDec possible, from web sites that write tests (well, almost) to software that administers them (even on PDAs.) Tom has been a DemiDec writer, editor and lead programmer since 1999. He is a self-described basement troll with a passion for biking, problem-solving and ASP.
Diana Saville, Lead Illustrator
Diana Saville is a research scientist-turned-graphic artist based in NYC and Perth, Australia. After studying biochemistry as an undergraduate at Harvard, Diana began animating molecular phenomena while pursuing a PhD in molecular biology at U.C. Berkeley. Since then, she's been seeking out opportunities to create art for educational purposes. Diana works with DemiDec as an illustrator, graphic artist, and cartographer. When she isn't designing, Diana enjoys reading, playing soccer, baking, and microfinancing Sub-Saharan entrepreneurial endeavors.
Lawrence Lan, Writer
Lawrence Lan first joined DemiDec as a member of the Counter-Typoism Unit in 2006 and took on the roles of test writer and test editor in 2008. In his spare time, he finds delight in good music, Dali, and down pillows. A graduate and ex-Decathlete from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in southern California, Lawrence currently attends Cornell University. He spends much of his time exploring multiculturalism, biology, and other fun things in pursuit of some sort of degree.