Institute Staff

Dr. Jared Ortiz, Executive Director and Co-Founder


Jared Ortiz hails from Hopewell Junction, New York where he was a wayward and impious youth. He entered the University of Chicago in 1996 as a confused agnostic and through the reading of Great Books and under mentorship of wise professors he slowly returned to his childhood faith. After college, he spent two years living in a faith-based community in voluntary poverty while teaching in an inner-city Chicago Catholic school. He received a Masters degree in Liberal Arts from the St. John's College Graduate Institute and a PhD in Early Christian Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is author of You Made Us for Yourself: Creation in St. Augustine's Confessions and editor of Deification in the Latin Patristic Tradition. Currently, he is an associate professor in the Religion Department at Hope College.  He is happily married to Rhonda, a writer and graphic designer. They have four mischievous children: Benedict, Miriam, Joseph, and Leo. Dr. Ortiz can be reached at

Dr. Jack Mulder, Assistant Director and Co-Founder


Jack Mulder is a native of Grand Rapids and a Hope College alumnus.  He studied Philosophy and Religion at Hope College before pursuing an MA and PhD in Philosophy at Purdue University where he wrote his dissertation on Kierkegaard.  Dr. Mulder was received into the Catholic Church while at graduate school.  He is author of several books, including Kierkegaard and the Catholic Tradition,What Does it Mean to Be Catholic? (Eerdmans, 2015) and Civil Dialogue on Abortion (Routledge, 2018).  Currently, he is chair and associate professor in the Philosophy Department at Hope College.  He is happily married to Melissa, an instructor in Spanish at Hope, and father to two adorable children, Luke and Maria. Dr. Mulder can be reached at

Fr. Nicholas Monco, O.P., Chaplain


Fr. Nick Monco was born and raised in Chicago.  He went to Claremont McKenna College in California where he majored in Philosophy and Business.  He then pursued the priesthood with the Dominican Order of the Midwest Province.  He received a Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degree from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO, where he also earned a Certificate in Thomistic Studies.  He was ordained in 2013 and has taught Theology at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL, for the past four years. Fr. Monco can be reached at

Brian Piecuch, Development Director and Program Coordinator

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After graduating from Wartburg College in 1983, Brian Piecuch served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica working with “campesinos” practicing subsistence farming. This experience reoriented the path of his life to one of serving the needy both here and abroad. His overseas projects included a five year stint in the Central African Republic with Christian Blind Mission International, where he directed a rehabilitation center for the disabled and helped launch a national program to control River Blindness. Afterwards he spent a decade in Peru with Medical Ministry International (MMI), building and directing a national team that hosts volunteer medical teams while overseeing MMI’s ongoing field work in twenty-three other countries. Most recently, Brian worked for Catholics for the Common Good where he helped to run a ministry committed to the evangelization of culture, especially in the areas of family and marriage. Brian and his wife of thirty years, Carmen, are the proud parents of five children, who range in age from 13 to adult. For the past several years they have worshiped at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland. Brian can be reached at (616) 392-6700, ext. 119, or at

Carly McShane, Campus Missionary


Carly McShane was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and yes, she is aware that is it quite peculiar to be from a town called Normal. Carly is a recent graduate of Hope College (‘17) where she studied Church History and Theology. She also minored in Dance. While attending Hope, Carly lived in an intentional Christian community of students called the Emmaus Scholars. Additionally, she worked for Residential Life and the Religion Department. Carly was received into the Catholic Church during her final year of school. Carly can be reached at

Michelle Pohlman, Assistant Program Coordinator

Michelle Pohlman earned a B.A. in Spanish and Theology from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids in 2011. During her time at Aquinas, she spent a semester abroad in Salamanca, Spain, and was an active member of the Insignis honors program. Beginning as a summer intern in 2010, Michelle worked with the Programs and Education department at the Acton Institute for 8 years. During her time at Acton, her primary responsibilities included administration for their annual summer conference, Acton University. Outside of her professional career, Michelle has volunteered with the liturgical environment team at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, has served as both retreat director and chapter director for Veritas, and is a member of her church choir. Michelle lives with her husband Ben and their son Steven in Holland, Mich. and are members of St. Francis de Sales parish. Michelle can be reached at