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Our Leadership

Jeff Wenzler

Executive Director and Founder

After Jeff's brother died in his arms tragically on his twentieth birthday Jeff Wenzler vowed to find meaning in life. Practically a boy himself, he set off on an adventure. This journey, which he weaves into his own leadership, took him out of his comfort zone to search for purpose and his calling in life.  He has searched from mountain villages and corrupt governments to corporate board meetings and bottom lines; from prestigious universities to orphanages; from the Kingston city garbage dump in Jamaica to the largest community settlement in a city garbage dump in Central America. Jeff has taught and served countless people over the past decade and a half, both in the US & internationally. An educator and adventurer at heart, Jeff is committed to helping others develop perspective on the world around us.

Jeff has worked on the campuses of Boston College and Marquette University, as well as churches, schools and orphanages. Wenzler received his Master of Education from Boston College. His Bachelor of Arts focus was in Criminology/Law Studies. He spent time working in prisons and witnessed first hand the consequences of making poor choices. Later, he spent time in the corporate industry working for a global pharmaceutical company selling one of the most prescribed Sexually Transmitted Disease drugs in the world.  It was there that he witnessed first hand the STD battle that is taking place in our communities every day. Selling drugs for viruses that stay with the individual for life was a losing battle.  The vast majority of STDs are spread outside of the context of marriage and much too early in our children’s lives. “Not my community, not the kids I work with, not on my watch,” Jeff can be heard saying.  As a father, he knows what it is to love unconditionally, and to stand guard.  Our kids need more real information, coupled with goal setting to live a healthier life free of drugs, risky sexual behaviors, and with more character lived with greater joy. 

Mike Mullen

Director of Education & 2011, 2012, 2013 Trip Leader

Mike has taken an interesting path to his current position in education.  He began his professional life as a park ranger at Mt. Rushmore, which then lead to a career with the US Forest Service.  Mike spent many years cruising the forests of states like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado fighting forest fires.  After starting a business in Idaho he moved to Iowa and managed a large Chemlawn company.  Several years later he was back at the University of Iowa seeking a masters in science education.  Mike taught biology, anatomy/physiology and coached one of the top Academic Decathlon teams in the state at Menomonee Falls High School. Mike has won several awards for his classroom teaching and recently was given the “Excellence in Science Education” award by the Wisconsin Society of Science teachers. Click here to read about his award. Mike presently is the Assistant Principal at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Menomonee Falls. Read more about Mike here. 

Elias Yousif                           

2012, 2013 Guatemala Trip Leader

Elias is completing his undergraduate studies at American University in Washington D.C. studying Foreign Policy and Security. Elias is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he graduated from University School of Milwaukee. Elias speaks fluent Spanish and has a comprehensive understanding and passion for global studies, foreign policy and economics. Elias is well versed in the art of travel abroad. He travelled with his father growing up on Doctors Without Boarders medical trips and learned his Spanish visiting his mother's family who in Colombia, South America. Elias assisted with the research and design of the Guatemala experience and is a returning trip leader.

Calbert Hutchinson & 

Alphonso Christie

Jamaican Presenters

Calbert and Alphonso are friends of Pivotal Directions and High School teachers at St. George's College preparatory school for boys. Both have guided and presented on Jamaican culture for Jeff Wenzler on previous student trips. Their charismatic nature, understanding of teenage development, as well as knowledge of Kingston's culture is an asset to our programs.  

Katie Simet
2012, 2013 Jamaica Trip Leader

Katie Simet is a strong addition to our Jamaica leadership team. She has experience serving in Kingston, Jamaica as a past participant of a Marquette University mission trip. Katie works at Marquette University as an Academic Advisor and Learning Specialist in the athletic department. In her role, Simet assists students with their academic decisions, as well as helps provide all student-athletes with strategies to achieve academic success. She also works with the NCAA CHOICES grant, a program providing alcohol education and programming to student-athletes and the Marquette student body.

Prior to MU, Simet served as an assistant residence hall director at Seattle University and an elementary teacher in the Milwaukee area. Katie has also been teaching with the Trinity Irish Dance in Milwaukee for over 13 years.

She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and elementary education from Marquette University and a master's of education in student development administration from Seattle University. Pivotal Directions is lucky to have such a high quality individual leading our students on international trips.

Maureen Gibson
2012, 2013, 2014 Guatemala Trip Leader

Mrs. Gibson is a veteran to the Pivotal Directions Guatemala leadership team. Señora Gibson has been on the Cedarburg High School staff teaching Spanish since 1988. She graduated from UW-Stevens Point in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, Education and Communications. She received her Master's Degree in Spanish from Marquette University in 1986. Mrs. Gibson studied in Spain and Mexico. Mrs. Gibson currently teaches AP Spanish Language and Spanish II & IV. Students traveling to Guatemala will be lucky to have Mrs. Gibson's talent of teaching Spanish coupled with her ability to lead.

Lisa Hensch
2012, 2013 Jamaica Trip Leader

Lisa spent high school and college working with different non-profits so when a chance to travel to Kingston, Jamaica to volunteer arose; she knew she couldn't pass it up. Through her involvement in Marquette's Center for Community Service she had the opportunity to serve in Belize, Honduras, Kenya and India but she never stopped volunteering in her own community.

Lisa received her Bachlor's of Science in Business Administration then joined GE's Information Management Leadership program. While at GE she worked as a mentor to the IMLP's and took part in recruiting/hiring of new IT employees; while staying engaged with many of the company's volunteer program; like a Safe Water initative in Honduras and being a hospital ambassador in Kenya.

She was fortunate enough to turn her passion for volunteering into a job when she joined the Corporate Citizenship team. Her focus is to engage other employees to improve access to Healthcare in the US through skill based volunteering and she also oversees the Scholarship portfolio globally.

Pivotal Directions is thrilled to have Lisa Hensch onboard as a leader in our program. Her experience, both professionally, and in international servant leadership is wonderful. She will be a strong role model for our girls attending the Kingston, Jamaica trip.

Adam Scott Hill
2012 Guatemala Trip Leader
2013 Jamaica Trip Leader

A true global citizen with an international perspective, our Scottish leader, Adam Scott Hill, was raised in Germany, speaks four languages and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Adam has been extremely fortunate to live and travel throughout the world because of his work in management consulting. Recently he returned from Argentina where he volunteered as a soccer coach and learned to speak Spanish. Adam's strength, beyond his corporate leadership skills, is that he respects the importance of personal balance in life and the need to reflect and "give back". Adam is passionate about being involved in good causes and associating himself with people who are motivated to have an impact in the world for the greater good. Since an early age, Adam credits much of his life success to the drive and determination he always had as a young athlete. He is a strong believer of "If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it". A competitor at heart, Adam has played and coached soccer (football) across Europe and South America. He is a passionate believer of being part of a team and helping others succeed, as well as learning from the people around them whatever their circumstances and background may be. Adam finds balance outside of work in challenges such as cancer charity marathons, most notably, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, and MacMillan Cancer Care. He has completed marathons in Tokyo, NYC, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, and Santa Barbara to raise funds for these charities. Adam's passions are people, language, culture, and sports. He is always keen to understand a different perspective and where he can motivate others to make good choices. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, cooking, photography, and a recently discovered passion for sailing. Two of his favorite poems that he of often reflects upon are "IF" by Rudyard Kipling, and the "Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. Adam will be a great role model!

Maria Myles
2012, 2013, 2014 Jamaica Trip Leader

Pivotal is thrilled to have Maria return this year as a leader to the July Jamaica experience. Maria is completing her studies in Community Development and Global Studies at Alverno College. She is an active participant in her community always striving to make a change.  In 2012 Maria presented at Marquette's Peace Institute Student Conference, collected over 700 books for the Next Door Foundation and hosted a Fair Trade Fair.  In 2013 she is facilitating roundtable discussions at Alverno focused around controversial topics to inspire a greater sense of community and to close cultural gaps.  She also hosted a Harvest for the Homeless at her church raising money and toiletries for the Salvation Army.  In January Maria presented students at Lakeshore Middle School about Leadership & Character.  She is extremely excited to be returning to Kingston and looks forward to meeting the new participants.

Jose Mario Acajabon
2012 Guatemala Leader

In 1994, when Jeff Wenzler taught in Guatemala, Jose Mario was just born. His family was Jeff's family away from home. His parents were ingrained in the community, the school, and the local church. Jose Mario followed in their footsteps and is a leader in his community. Jose Mario proved to be invaluable on the 2012 summer trip to Guatemala. His knowledge of the local communities, native culture and language, as well as his passion to serve others benefited our experience.

Anne Dempster
2013, 2014 Jamaica Trip Leader

Anne is excited about the opportunity to return to Kingston, Jamaica. After she graduated from college, Anne co-led two volunteer service trips to Jamaica through the Lumen Christi Parish. She had also participated in past service trips through the Lumen Christi Summer Outreach Program. She values the opportunities she had through these programs to be exposed to and learn from a diversity of cultures.

Anne graduated from St. Norbert College, and then returned to Milwaukee to work as a case manager with children and families in foster care.  It was through her experiences in this work that Anne grew to understand that all children deserve to have a safe, stable, and loving home environment.

She moved to Chicago to attend graduate school and earned dual masters degrees, in Child Development from the Erikson Institute, and in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. 

Anne currently works for a non-profit in Chicago as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant.  In her role she provides support and guidance to child care providers, helping them to recognize, understand and respond to the social and emotional needs of children.  

Michael Mueller
2013 Jamaica Trip Leader

Michael joins the Pivotal Directions Jamaica team in 2013 with a fantastic amount of enthusiasm. His background in domestic service camps as both student and adult leader provides a new perspective. Michael's ability to relate with young people through his diverse background of experience is sure to build quick rapport.  When Michael is not working with the family carpet cleaning business he is bound to be volunteering in the community or directing youth retreats at the Tyme Out Retreat Center. He is also a Certified Nursing Assistant in the State of Wisconsin. 

Nikki Trau
2013 Jamaica Trip Leader

Nikki graduated St. Norbert College in 2012 with a degree in Communications and minor in Leadership Studies.  Nikki’s commitment to service and leadership started at the age 14 when she started the Leadership Training program at YMCA Camp Minikani.  It grew from there when Nikki became a member of the Milwaukee Service Club her junior year of high school, where she volunteered her time for many organizations throughout the Milwaukee area.  In college Nikki served on the board of National Resident Hall Honoree (NRHH)- an organization that recognizes the top one percent of leaders on campus.  Her sophomore year was spent as a Resident Assistant in one of the freshman resident halls. 

A Pivotal moment in Nikki’s life was during her senior year of college, after a service trip to Memphis, TN.  She spent her time in Memphis volunteering at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House; meeting people from all over the world and in all different types of health.  It was this trip that made Nikki realize she wants to help others.  In 2012 Pivotal Directions tapped Nikki’s talents as an assistant director for our Middle School Leadership Camp at Concordia University. We are proud to build Nikki into our formal leadership international team this year. 




Calbert Hutchinson (left) and Alphonso Christie (right)






Jose Mario




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