MSWC Faculty

Program Director

Joanne B. Koch, Ph.D.

National Louis University

  • Director, Master of Science in Written Communication Program
  • Professor of English
Phone & Fax: 312.261.3103
Web site:

Joanne Koch is the author or co-author of ten nonfiction books, including "Good Parents for Hard Times," screenwriter of numerous screenplays and an Emmy winning television series, and the creator or co-author of seventeen plays and musicals produced around the country.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Nonfiction Writing
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Memoir
  • Women's Literature
  • Minority Voices in American Literature
  • Oral History
  • Literature for Children & Adolescents

Program Instructors

Patricia Tennison has been a veteran features and news writer and editor, movie editor, and restaurant reviewer for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago magazine, and is the author of James Beard Award-honored cookbooks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and French from Boston University, and her master’s degree in English literature from Boston College. She has taught in the M.S. in Written Communication Program since 2000.  This year she will be teaching Fundamentals of Journalism and Editing for Publication, an online course she developed.

Maxine Milks is the instructor for the Teaching Freshman Composition course and supervises many of the interns in the English Composition courses at College of Du Page, College of Lake County and National Louis University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and her Master’s in Written Communication at NLU.  She has taught Freshman English Composition for the past fifteen years.  Ms. Milks has extensive prior experience in the field of public relations and marketing for the Chicago Tribune and in corporate communications for the Tribune Company.

Laurie Lawlor, published writer of more than 37 books for children and young adults, has taught Creative Writing: Children’s Books and Writing the Young Adult Novel at NLU since the mid-1990s.  A list of her award-winning titles may be viewed on her web site:  She recently noted:           "I always find the quality and dedication of students in the NLU writing program to be an important factor in why I enjoy teaching Writing for Children and Writing the Young Adult Novel.  The collegial and supportive atmosphere of the writing workshop setting provides participants with both thoughtful feedback and helpful support to finish and revise a variety of challenging genres. As an instructor, I always learn a great deal from my students, many of whom are holding down full-time jobs while simultaneously pursuing their love of writing and learning more about their craft."

Robin Hunter has been an instructor at NLU for nine years. She holds a BS in Fine Arts from Valparaiso University and an MS in Written Communication from NLU. She has nearly 30 years of experience in advertising and marketing including positions as a production manager, graphic designer and senior creative director. This year Robin will teach online courses in Online Publishing: Writing for the Web a curriculum that she co-wrote with Dr. Koch, and The Professional Writer I, II, III.

Julia Borcherts teaches the Creative Writing: Fiction course. Her Pushcart Prize-nominated short fiction and essays have appeared in Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck, Criminal Class Review, Sin: A Deadly Anthology, Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting for Next Year and many other publications. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Master of Arts in the Teaching of Writing degrees at Columbia College Chicago and is a theater columnist for RedEye, a co-founder of the Reading Under the Influence live literature series and a company member with 2nd Story.

Kate Hutchinson is teaching Introduction to Writing Poetry online this year. Kate has had poems and personal essays published in dozens of literary magazines and anthologies, and in 2012 her chapbook of poems, The Gray Limbo of Perhaps, was published by Finishing Line Press. In her spare time, she maintains a writing and poetry blog on Kate has taught high school English in the northwest suburbs for nearly 30 years, including honors and A. P.-level courses in literature and writing as well as Creative Writing and Acting. For the last 12 years, she has also served as her school's Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator, overseeing all fine arts co-curricular activities.

Will Linder, who is teaching Public Relations at NLU,  has worked as a strategist and communications consultant in Chicago for more than three decades. He has held communications management positions with companies and agencies including Harris Bank, where he is responsible for the company’s executive speeches and annual report, and Golin Harris, one of the nation’s largest public relations firms. He has also led his own consulting firm, handling assignments for clients such as Accenture, BP, Citibank, Chrysler Financial and R.R. Donnelley & Sons. As a writer and editor, Will has created corporate, investor, media and client and consumer communications campaigns. Most recently, his work has focused on strategic internal communications. Will received an MBA with a concentration in marketing from the University of Chicago and a BA in history from Johns Hopkins University. Will is a 2012 graduate of NLU’s MS in Written Communications program and is on the adjunct faculty of College of Lake County.

Sue O’Brien

Writers' Week Workshop Instructors

Each summer the Master’s in Written Communication Program offers four writing workshops led by outstanding writers and journalists.  Here are recent instructors for our NLU Writers’ Week Workshops.

Dawn Turner Trice

Dawn Turner Trice is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. She has been the moderator of the Tribune’s “Exploring Race” online forum and a regular commentator for WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" show, and National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" program. Trice also has written two novels, Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven (Random House, 1997) and An Eighth of August (Random House, 2000). She is the recipient of the 2008 Studs Terkel Media award, two Illinois Arts Council awards, an American Library Association Alex award and a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She lives outside Chicago.

Robert Kurson

Robert Kurson is the author of Shadow Divers and Crashing Through: A True story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See.“Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers, about the divers exploring sunken shipwreck off the new Jersey coast, is a gripping account of real-life adventurers and a real-life mystery,” said Scott Turow, and Publisher’s Weekly predicted a best-seller with this “superlative journalistic narrative.” The predictions came true. His Shadow Divers became a critically acclaimed bestseller revealing new depths of World War II history, as well as friendship and compulsion. Kurson is currently adapting Shadow Divers for the screen. Kurson’s next book is another thrilling adventure. Crashing Through is the stunning true story of one man’s heroic odyssey from blindness into sight. Robert Kurson is also a contributing editor at Esquire.

Tim Kazurinsky

Tim Kazurinsky got his show biz start at Chicago's own Second City Theatre. Movie appearances include Neighbors, Somewhere in Time and three Police Academy films. A former cast member of NBC's "Saturday Night Live,” Tim returned home to Chicago to co-write such screenplays as My Bodyguard, About Last Night, the Cherokee Kid and For Keeps. He was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award for his screenplay for Strange Relations, starring Paul Reiser, Julie Walters and Olympia Dukakis. But Tim still loves performing and has recently done guest star roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Still Standing and According to Jim. Just to drive his agents crazy, Tim lives in Chicago with his wife, Marcia, their two amusing children, and way too many pets.

Nate Herman

Nate Herman teaches the Comedy Writing Program at Chicago’s i.O. Theater, where he created the sketch show, Next Week In Review. He is a writer, director, composer, musician, and actor who has been active in Chicago and around the country since 1967, when he started his long association with The Second City (as cast member and Jeff Award winning director). Officialy proclaimed “one of the funniest people in Chicago” by the Chicago Tribune, Nate has been a regular contributor to National Public Radio, a writer and performer on The National Lampoon Radio Show and staff writer for four years on Saturday Night Live.

Nate and his material have appeared in numerous Second City revues, on National Public Radio broadcasts (including All Things Considered), on The National Lampoon Radio Show, in National Lampoon’s revue Lemmings (at the Village Gate in NYC), on Saturday Night Live, and on/in stages, concert halls and clubs across the country. His current video on YouTube is Guns In The Schools, no relation to his previous video Friday, The Byrds Version or the classic Chicago’s Little Known Neighborhoods.

Rick Kogan

Born and raised and still living in Chicago, Rick Kogan has worked for the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, where he is currently a senior writer and columnist. Named Chicago's Best Reporter in 1999 and inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003, he was the creator/host of WGN radio's Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan and is currently host of The Afternoon Shift on WBEZ. Kogan has been an on-air reporter/critic for WBBM TV and radio, and an Emmy Award-winning contributor for WFLD-TV; and the author of a dozen books, including Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder and the Price of Truth (with Maurice Possley), America's Mom: The Life, Lesson and Legacy of Ann Landers, A Chicago Tavern, the history of the Billy Goat, and Sidewalks I and Sidewalks II, collections of his columns embellished by the work of photographer Charles Osgood.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of the city's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to six classrooms, this location features a conference room, a computer lab with high-speed Internet access, an extensive research library and comfortable student lounges.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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