Jeff was born and raised in the Dallas, TX area. He studied German Literature at Princeton University, where he came to faith in Christ and later did college ministry. He spent a number of years living, teaching, and ministering in the Middle East and Europe. He was ordained at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago in 2006, came onto staff as an assistant pastor in 2010, and became the church planting pastor in 2016 to help start Boulevard Presbyterian Church in the Austin-Oak Park area. He has a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jeff and his wife, Cindy, married in 2010. Cindy works as an urban designer and architect, with a focus on sustainable urbanism. They live with their two children and small flock of chickens in Austin. Jeff enjoys hearing people’s stories (everyone has such an important story to tell!), cooking in a cast iron skillet, digging around in dirt, and trying to speak languages.
Director of Ministries
Michelle was born in Chicago, and at the age of three relocated to a small-town in Kentucky where she enjoyed a simplistic farm-lifestyle, met Jesus, and developed a love for all things natural. At the age of nine, Michelle moved back to Chicago and developed a passion for singing and acting. She attended DePaul University and there decided God was calling her to a life of journalism and broadcasting, thus graduating with an undergraduate degree in Communication. Gaining her degree was not all that Michelle received from DePaul; she also married the love of her life, Terrell Burgess, in June 2000. After several years of settling down into married life, Michelle felt the call of God to go back to school and pursue a master’s degree in theology from seminary. She answered that call, and after four years received her degree from Share-a-Prayer School of Theology in Whitewater, WI. Michelle has always held a passion for God’s work and loving people well. With a strong focus on community service, she continues to seek ways to build her surrounding community and the church.
Director of Worship & Music
JoAnna has called many places home. Having spent significant time in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, she also lived overseas for six years prior to coming to Chicago for college. Having lived here the longest, she considers herself a Chicagoan with some warm southern flare. JoAnna received her B.A. in Piano Performance from Moody Bible Institute. She also completed 10KFAM’s 18-month discipleship and songwriting school for worship leaders in 2019. She then obtained an M.A. in Worship Studies in 2023 at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies, studying liturgy, church history, theology, and global worship. JoAnna has a passion for artistry, discipleship, spiritual formation, and helping others see God through corporate worship. She has been married to John since 2013, and they are invested in raising their two children and welcoming others into their home. She enjoys songwriting, solitude, nature walks, collaborative music making, coloring with her kids, and fun outings with her husband, exploring Chicago’s music, cultures, and global cuisine.
Sarah Vander Laan
Sarah grew up in the Kansas City area and always wanted to work with kids. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Hope College and her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Minnesota. Sarah has taught all grade levels Kindergarten to 5th grade, and each one was her favorite. She and her husband, Zach, met in Michigan and moved to Maryland right after getting married. In 2018, they moved to the Oak Park area to be closer to family, and in 2021 they started coming to Boulevard. They now have 3 young children. Sarah’s passion for children and parenting is what drew her to the role of nursery coordinator. She believes that Sunday mornings are a great opportunity both to provide caring, safe childcare and to intentionally teach the youngest people in our church body more about God and his love for them. Sarah enjoys books, podcasts, (decaf) coffee, and being outdoors.
Director of Student Ministry & Theological Education
Matt grew up on the east coast before coming to Chicago in 2013 to study theology at Moody Bible Institute. After college, he attended seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he earned his Master of Divinity in 2019. He is now continuing his studies there as a PhD student in systematic theology, where his research is focused on church division and unity. He also works as a managing director at the Henry Center for Theological Understanding. Matt joined Boulevard in 2020 and started serving in youth ministry the same year, after he and Ellyn got married. He loves good coffee and poetry, and enjoys playing pickup basketball.