Heather Zempel

Discipleship Pastor & Campus Ministries Director

A native Alabamian, Heather Zempel currently leads the discipleship efforts at National Community Church in Washington, DC where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training, and serves on the weekend teaching team.

Heather followed a circuitous route into full-time ministry. Having obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in biological engineering from Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!), she worked as an environmental engineer and as a policy consultant on energy and environment in the United States Senate before coming on staff at National Community Church. Using her educational background, Heather now can be found exploring environments that foster spiritual growth.

She lives on Capitol Hill where she can be found enjoying the adventures of parenting with her husband Ryan as they raise Sawyer, their fun-loving and energetic daughter. Heather is the author of Sacred Roads, Community is Messy, and Amazed and Confused, and you can read about her ramblings on small group environments, discipling the next generation and SEC football at www.heatherzempel.com

Emily Hendrickson

Weekend Experience Director

Emily Hendrickson hails from the southern portion of the country and her accent will prove it. At the University of Tennessee, she served under the leadership of Coach Pat Summitt with the Lady Volunteer basketball team winning two National Championships. Before moving to DC, Emily directed the student ministry at Sevier Heights in Knoxville. She then joined the NCC team initially as a part of the Protégé Program in September 2011. Emily leads the charge with making our weekends happen across all of our locations as she oversees the Creative and Sermon Planning Team. As someone driven by seeing life change, Emily is passionate about reflecting the purpose and personality of Jesus. You can usually find her tuned into ESPN or enjoying a competitive game of cornhole.

Laura Holland

Small Groups Pastor

Laura Holland came to DC in 2006 after graduating with degrees in psychology and teaching from the University of Arkansas -- Woo Pig Sooie!! Before becoming the Small Group Pastor, she spent (almost) a year on Capitol Hill and eight years with the Department of Defense.

Laura discovered NCC soon after moving to Capitol Hill when she picked up a discarded church flier off the sidewalk. Since that fateful day she has been involved in Alpha, Freshmen of the City, short-term missions, hospitality ministry, and small groups based around gathering with friends over the dinner table.

She loves pizza, reality tv, her husband, Tim, whom she met after joining his small group because it was the only one available on the night she was free, and spending time with their daughter, Charli. 

Jodi Otto

Discipleship Team Ministry Assistant

Jodi was born in Indiana, raised in Michigan, and settled in Florida after completing undergrad in order to help out with her aunt and uncle’s ministry in Haiti. God used a prayer journal, a dream of operating a coffeehouse, an experience on one particular mission trip, and a one-day tourist trip to DC that ended up leading her to apply for protégé program here at NCC.  She moved to DC just a few weeks later to be the Ebenezer’s protégé.  For the first year and a half, she has built relationships within the coffeehouse by serving a simple cup of coffee…and in the process; she fell in love with the church.  God has continually proved to her that He will get us to where He wants us to go more than we do. 

Besides her love for coffee and community, she loves nighttime monument tours, hiking, and a good blog.

Kiersten Telzerow

Barracks Row Small Group Director

Kiersten was born in Michigan, grew up in Pennsylvania, and went to school at Indiana Wesleyan University where she earned both her bachelor degree in Christian Ministry and her MRS degree, marrying her college sweetheart, Matt. After finishing her degree, she moved to Atlanta where she served at a multi-campus church for a residency in Adult Spiritual Formation. It was during this time that she felt a prompting to work in Small Group ministry and was given a dream one night that she was working in Washington, D.C. Pursuing that dream led to a job promotion for her husband and a position for her at NCC. They moved to DC in 2015 and have a puppy named Luna.

In her spare time, you’ll find her taste-testing coffee, studying for her Master of Divinity degree, watching NFL and NCAA football, eating at new restaurants, and reading leadership books. 

Ryan Zempel

Pastor of Recovery & Care

Ryan hails from the great state of Oregon, where he grew up in a log house his family built. He graduated from George Fox University in 1998 with a Computer Science degree and moved to Washington, DC to put his skills to use managing websites and social media.

At that time, Ryan started attending National Community Church and began dealing with issues of brokenness in his life. He recommitted himself to Christ and felt called to help others understand the truth about God’s love for them and grow into the fullness of who He created them to be.

He married the incomparable Heather Sawyer (who he met in 1999 on his first visit to an NCC small group) in 2004. In 2015, their extremely energetic daughter Sawyer Elizabeth joined the family and they haven't had a moment's rest since.

Ryan received an M.A. in Practical Theology from Regent University in 2011 and joined the NCC staff in September 2012. He serves as the ministry leader for NCC's Celebrate Recovery program, coordinates NCC's pastoral care team, and facilitates connections to professional therapists.