Helping You Dream

Our Team

Mark Batterson

Lead Visionary

Mark went to the University of Chicago on scholarship playing basketball and majoring in pre-law. After a prayer walk through a cow pasture, he felt called to full time ministry and ended up at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. That's the short story. Mark also holds a Doctor of Ministry from Regent University. He is the author of a dozen books including his first published title, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and The Circle Maker, a New York Times Bestseller.

Mark and his wife, Lora, moved to Washington, DC, in 1994 to direct an inner-city ministry. He has served as Lead Pastor of National Community Church since 1996. Under his leadership, NCC has grown from a core group of 19 people to one church with multiple locations.

Mark and Lora live on Capitol Hill and have three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.

Heather Zempel

Executive 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.

Nina Schmidgall

Ministry Director/Reformation Catalyst

Nina first moved from California to the nation’s capital to work for the United States Congress, serving as a Legislative Director in the House of Representatives. Writing and directing education and family policy, Nina realized her deep passion for strengthening the family and the home. Trading public policy for potty policies, she now oversees the family ministry department at NCC. Nina and her husband, Joel, live on Capitol Hill with their three kids: Eloise, Ezekiel, and Lorenza. When allowed time-off for good behavior, Nina enjoys dance, photography, and bargain shopping.

David Schmidgall

Mission Director/Renaissance Catalyst

David has been deeply shaped by jazz, photography and peacemaking - finding infinite joy at their crossroads: improvisation and constraints, seeing and storytelling, conflict and flourishing.

David earned a Master's Degree in International Policy/Peacebuilding from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. For more than 13 years, he has served as a Pastor and Executive Director of A18 Missions at National Community Church in Washington DC, leading a diverse community seeking both ancient and innovative kingdom solutions to the problems of our world today.

Building from the many years of experience in redemptive entrepreneurship, empowering non-profits and the local Church, is passionate about supporting a transparent and trustworthy Dream Fund that will seed and hatch spirit-led dreams of entrepreneurs and artists; the agents of cultural renewal. His many years of serving the Church around the world clarifies his conviction for the missions landscape to be transformed towards "kingdom economics", a more just and compassionate vision of flourishing of all people.

Joel Buckner

NCC Learning Director

Born and raised in Columbus, OH, Joel has been leading worship for 20 years and he claims to be only 25! His passion in life is to become what God designed him to be (along with eating the greatest food in the world) while mentoring young people and writing songs. Joel has performed on many platforms across the country and around the world leading people into the presence of God. It's his desire to help raise up other worship leaders and impact DC with a sound of worship that changes lives…

Hunter Clifton

Project Coordinator

Hunter is originally from Columbus, Ohio, but came to us in 2019 from Lakeland, Florida, where she graduated from Southeastern University with a B.S. in Practical Ministries. Passionate about development, and with a background in ministry and project management, Hunter feels like she’s doing what she was born to do when she gets to partner with others and participate in bringing dreams to life. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs, she’s a 1w2 and an ESFJ. You can often find her with a cup of coffee, which is funny considering the fact that she used to say she would never drink coffee, but is now an aspiring coffee connoisseur. She also really loves spending time with friends and family, storytelling, and sweets.

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