Rebecca Burwell, PhD

rebecca.burwell@chicagosemester.org   O: 312.922.3568

Rebecca Burwell joined the Chicago Semester team in spring of 2007. She loves Chicago Semester because of its potential to impact students as they transition from college to the real world.  She also loves engaging students in learning about and working with urban communities.

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Born and raised in New York and Pennsylvania, Rebecca has lived on both the East and West costs, and feels that she has found a happy medium in Chicago. Prior to joining Chicago Semester, Rebecca did extensive work within the realm of social justice, doing her dissertation in Cuba on the negotiation of motherhood, wage-earning and civic engagement in the Cuban context. She also spent several years studying the impact of Latino churches on Chicago communities through the Center for the Study of Latino Religion at the University of Notre Dame. She finished her MA and PhD in sociology at Loyola University Chicago and continues to write and research about issues related to race, inequality, and social justice.

Rebecca currently lives on Chicago’s northwest side with her family and counts herself extraordinarily blessed with a great group of friends, a faith community she loves, and a close family.


Lisa Hensey, PhD

Student Teaching Program Director
lisa.hensey@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.6283

Lisa Hensey joined Chicago Semester in August of 2005, the same month she moved to Chicago. She thoroughly enjoys working with student teachers at Chicago Semester because they are dedicated educators who are interested in urban education, and want to make a positive difference in their students’ lives.

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Lisa was raised in a small central Illinois town, but has traveled all around the world. Prior to coming to Chicago Semester, Lisa was a public school teacher, and taught at a small Christian college in eastern Iowa. In 2000, she and her husband, along with their two children, went to Tanzania as ELCA missionaries for five years. Lisa served as the Education Department Chair at Tumaini Universtiy – Iringa (the first private university in Tanzania).

After living abroad, Lisa is happy to have settled in a city that is a microcosm of the world! She currently resides in the south side Hyde Park neighborhood. When she’s not learning about social justice issues in education first-hand with her students, she enjoys spending time with her family.


Mackenzi Huyser, PhD

Executive Director
mackenzi.huyser@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.3570

Mackenzi Huyser joined the Chicago Semester program as Executive Director in July 2014. She is passionate about the program’s mission to provide experiential learning opportunities, rooted in a Christian perspective, as students live, learn and work in the global city of Chicago. She is inspired by student and alumni stories about how the program has shaped their ideas about urban life and work.

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Originally from West Michigan, Mackenzi is now deeply committed to living in the city and continually seeking to answer questions about what it means for Christians to engage in urban life. Mackenzi is excited to lead the Chicago Semester Program as it seeks to explore possible answers through work with students in the program. Prior to joining the staff at Chicago Semester, she served as Dean for Faculty Development and Academic Programs and Professor of Social Work at Trinity Christian College’s Palos Heights campus.

Mackenzi lives in the south side Hyde Park neighborhood with her family. She enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting museums and neighborhood restaurants throughout the city, and attending LaSalle Street Church where she and her family are members.


Hannah Kiefer

Coordinator of Internship Placements and Alumni Engagement
hannah.kiefer@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.3642

Hannah Kiefer joined the Chicago Semester staff in January of 2018. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and provide support and mentorship as part of their internship experience.

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Prior to Chicago Semester, Hannah worked as the Volunteer Services Manager at World Relief Chicago, directing the office’s 200-plus volunteer program and equipping and training volunteers to support refugee clients. Hannah’s passion for working cross-culturally was developed during her experience as a missionary in Hong Kong with LCMS International, where she taught English to local elementary students. Hannah currently lives in the Albany Park neighborhood and spends her time writing, performing, cooking and checking out different restaurants in the city.



Michelle McClure, DNP, FNP-BC

Nursing Program Director 
michelle.mcclure@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.8143

Michelle McClure joined Chicago Semester in fall of 2005. Because she believes that nurses are called to a profession and by answering that call nurses are obedient to God, Michelle made the decision to go in to education, and teaching at Chicago Semester.

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Michelle is a life-long Chicago native. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Chicago State University, holds a Master of Science degree as a Family Nurse Practioner from Saint Xavier University, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Loyola University New Orleans. She has extensive experience in maternal child health, primary care of women, primary care in the retail health setting, and in nursing education. Her special interests include perinatal loss, childbirth and lactation education.

Michelle currently lives on the north side of Chicago. When she is not teaching at Chicago Semester, she enjoys being actively involved in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also loves taking in music in the city, going to movies, and trying one of the many local restaurants with friends.


Erik Nussbaum, MM

Seminar Instructor
erik@chicagotemple.org    O: 312.922.3243

Erik Nussbaum joined Chicago Semester in fall of 2008, and has taught the Arts & the City course ever since.  Erik’s favorite part of teaching the Arts & the City class is the discussion about the amazing art events they see. He really enjoys sharing and learning about all of the different perspectives and ways each person understands each experience, and witnessing the growth that happens within each student as the semester progresses is always very fulfilling. Erik feels this embodies, in part, the mission of the whole program.

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Erik’s experience leading up to his time in Chicago was quite different. Born in a small town (Eureka, IL), Erik then attended Knox College for his undergraduate degree, and Westminster for his graduate work. He went from small, to small, to huge! Employment with the Chicago Children’s Choir led him to Chicago in 2000, and serving in many south and west side public elementary schools greatly expanded his understanding of life in the city.

When Erik isn’t teaching at Chicago Semester, you can often find him writing music for his church music ministry, which includes the choir, string ensemble, organ or piano, and various instruments and different combinations of all of them. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, whether that’s playing Frisbee, watching movies, playing with their senior cat, Charlie, or making music together.


Alexis Rivers

Assistant Director of Student Services and Registrar
alexis.rivers@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.3243

Alexis Rivers joined the Chicago Semester staff in December of 2016. Alexis’ favorite part of the CS program is building relationships with students and seeing how they transform during their semester in Chicago.

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Although born in Los Angeles, California, Alexis grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She attended Hope College and majored in International studies, and graduated in 2016. Alexis served in numerous roles during her time at Hope, including Assistant to the Director of Multicultural Education, Director of Advising and Transition Orientation, and President of Black Student Union and the Theta Gamma Pi Sorority. Alexis also studied abroad for a semester in Argentina.

Alexis currently lives on the south side of Chicago in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Her favorite activities in the city are exploring the different cultural neighborhoods in Chicago, finding different festivals or events to attend, and trying at least one new restaurant a month.


Sara Van Gorp

Coordinator of Recruitment, Marketing, and College Relations
sara.vangorp@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.3884 C: 641-780-7712

Sara Van Gorp participated in the Chicago Semester during the spring of 2014 as a communications student from Northwestern College. She joined the Chicago Semester staff in June 2017. Sara loves that the Chicago Semester provides an opportunity for students to live in a setting that challenges them to step outside their comfort zone and fully immerse themselves into everything that the city of Chicago has to offer.

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Prior to working for Chicago Semester, Sara was an admission counselor for Central College in Pella, IA, which also happens to be her hometown. While she has a special fondness for small towns, she absolutely loves living in Chicago. She currently resides in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood. Sara loves being outside and anything that involves the outdoors, attending concerts in the city, experiencing Chicago’s unique festivals and events, and attending church at Community Christian Church in Lincoln Park.


Kendra Wright, MSW

Director, Social Work Program and Strategic Program Initiatives 
kendra.wright@chicagosemester.org    O: 312.922.3885 

Kendra Wright joined Chicago Semester staff in July of 2013, though she joined the Chicago Semester family in 2010 when she took part in the program as a social work student from Trinity Christian College. Kendra enjoys the opportunity that she has to support students as they build up their careers – all while practicing urban values and vocation in a city rich with culture and diversity.

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After completing the CS program, Kendra moved permanently to the city and completed her Master’s in Social Work at University of Illinois–Chicago, concentrating in Community Health and Urban Development. Her experience in multi-cultural non-profit settings, preparing refugees and high school students for employment, equipped her for the good work here at Chicago Semester.When Kendra isn’t collaborating with her CS colleagues and Chicagoland nonprofits, you can find her spending time with her husband, Mark, and daughter Naomi. Kendra lives in the Avondale neighborhood and attends Covenant Presbyterian Church.