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Our Team

Kurt Berends - President

Kurt Berends is President of the Issachar Fund. Prior to working at TIF, he founded and served as Executive Director of the Theological Book Network, Inc. He previously served as coordinator of the Pew-funded Christian Scholars Program and Pew Evangelical Scholars Program at the University of Notre Dame. Berends is a former professor of history at both the University of Notre Dame and Calvin College. He earned his doctorate from Oxford University.

Mike Hamilton - Vice President for Programs and Special Initiatives

Mike Hamilton is Vice President for Programs and Special Initiatives. Before coming to TIF he served sixteen years as Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Seattle Pacific University, and before that spent nine years coordinating the Pew Evangelical Scholars Program and Pew Younger Scholars Program at the University of Notre Dame. He also has extensive experience as a consultant in the design and evaluation of academic programs and grant programs in higher education. He earned his doctorate in American history at the University of Notre Dame, and has written numerous scholarly and popular articles on the history of American Christianity.

Sara Hohnstein - Director of Operations

Sara Hohnstein is the Director of Operations at the Issachar Fund. Sara has a wealth of experience in program development, management and evaluation. Prior to her position at the Issachar Fund, Sara worked for an international Christian ministry, Colorado State University, and as the Executive Director of the Heart Ministry Center. At the Issachar Fund, Sara oversees the operations of the fund, builds partnerships with organizations and scholars, and aids in developing Issachar Fund programs.  Sara earned her Master in Social Work degree from Colorado State University.

Sara Merrilees - Event Coordinator

Sara Merrilees is the Event Coordinator at the Issachar Fund. Sara has experience in international PR and communications, specializing in event planning and coordinating. Her most recent roles have been with RLM Finsbury in London, and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sara has a BA in Communications from North Park University.

Deb Sisson

Deb Sisson - Office Coordinator

Deb Sisson is the Office and Writer’s Retreat Coordinator at the Issachar Fund.  She has experience in administrative, marketing and educational arenas.  Prior to her role at TIF, Deb worked for Calvin College, RDV Corporation, and National Heritage Academies.  She studied business at Cornerstone University and Liberty University.