In 2008, after seeing a drop in participation numbers at the KHSSL State Tournament, Kentucky (then NFL) NSDA District Chair Steve Meadows called a meeting of Kentucky's most active high school speech and debate coaches during the Kentucky National Forensic League District Tournament's first round.
As a result of that meeting, SPEAK first organized in 2008 in Nicholasville courtesy of a grant from the National Forensic League. Plymouth High School (Indiana) coach David McKenzie was the keynote speaker at this event. Krista Kohl, Jim Combs, Erika Stevens, Rachel Page, Molly Seifert, and Steve Meadows were the officers elected at the meeting or thereafter.
Over the next three years, SPEAK produced an informational brochure and had an officers' meeting while continuing to encourage speech education statewide.
In 2011, the Kentucky National Forensic League absorbed SPEAK into its outreach program and asked the Kentucky High School Speech League, the Kentucky Educational Speech and Drama Association, and the Kentucky Catholic Forensic League to co-sponsor the first SPEAK Conference -- the Speech Professional Education Alliance of Kentucky. With the support of the Division of Instructional Communication at the University of Kentucky, SPEAK 2011 became a reality with 75 attendees, a keynote address by National Speech and Debate Association Executive Director Scott Wunn, and high praise from all involved. Subsequent conferences were held in 2012, 2013, and 2014 at UK.
In 2015, in lieu of the annual conference, SPEAK organized its first SPEAK Locally series of Regional mini-conferences held around the state and hosted/run by the five members of the KYNSDA Committee. This format allows coaches near each other to network, assist new coaches and programs more easily, and to communicate to the NSDA District Committee concerns of the day for that region of the state.
In 2016, the conference moved to Georgetown College, where it was held on September 9 and 10 (SPEAK V: SPEAK STRIKES BACK). The Wilson Wyatt Debate League joined as a sponsoring organization, and a Friday night session designed for new coaches and teachers was added to the biannual conference. The full conference will next be held in September 2019.
For 2018, after a 2017 year of SPEAK Locally meetings in various regions, the Conference was held for new teachers/coaches only -- NEWSPEAK!
The 2019 Conference was a return to "the norm" with an in-person conference (SPEAK 7: THE SPEAK AWAKENS) featuring WKU's Dr. Randall Capps, the preeminent scholar on Kentucky speech history, as the keynote speaker.
2020 was a bit of a surprise for everyone, but KYSPEAK rebounded well and held one of its largest conferences ever by Zoom with a NewSPEAK conference (CLOUD CITY) also held.
For 2021, another virtual year (at least to start) of competition, a fantastic NewSPEAK was held via Zoom with a KHSSL judge training runthrough at the end.