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Illinois School of Professional Psychology Faculty

Illinois School of Professional Psychology Faculty

Whether our students’ professional emphases are assessment, intervention, or other professional activities, one of the keys to their growth lies in the expert support and guidance of ISPP’s accomplished faculty.

Through these relationships, students apply their theoretical knowledge, implement clinical techniques, and integrate research findings to enhance their abilities as clinicians. These close mentoring relationships extend beyond the classroom to collaborations on professional presentations and publications.

As a result, ISPP students are poised to gain experiences that will better prepare them to acquire professional licensure, maintain ethical relationships with patients and colleagues, and develop a professional network.

ISPP Faculty Members


Leah Horvath, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and the Program Director of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at National Louis University.

She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology from The University of Kentucky, with a focus on cognitive-behavioral treatments and clinical administration. Dr. Horvath is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Illinois with a small private practice and more than 13 years working in Psy.D. education and training.

Dr. Horvath has specialized clinical training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) including completing her pre-doctoral fellowship in the DBT program at the Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. Dr. Horvath completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the University Counseling Service at New York University, where she specialized in the treatment of individuals with eating disorders.

Her clinical areas of interest involve Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), treatment of individuals with eating disorders, exposure-based interventions for anxiety disorders, cognitive processing therapy for clients with trauma-related disorders, and mindfulness and acceptance based cognitive-behavioral therapies. Her research interests include issues in romantic relationships, therapy outcome research, and factors related to the positive professional development of psychologists and trainees.

Dr. Kristen Newberry received her Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois and is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Illinois. Dr. Newberry has over ten years of experience in clinical training and higher education administration. She currently serves as the Director of Internship Training of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at NLU.

Her areas of specialty include the treatment and diagnosis of co-morbid chronic medical conditions, particularly auto-immune, thyroid, and inflammatory conditions and mental health, as well as psychological testing for medically related concerns such as bariatric surgery, pre-surgical screenings, and egg donor evaluation. She conducts research related to graduate student self-care, wellness, and coping, and has presented on this topic with her students across the country. She has more recently developed new research in the area of coping as it relates to women’s identity and infertility diagnoses.

Before her time at NLU, Dr. Newberry served as the Program Dean at Argosy University in Schaumburg, as well as their Associate and Director of clinical training. She has taught courses in psychodynamic theory and therapy, integrative assessment, self-care for mental health professionals, consultation and supervision, and a diagnostic practicum seminar. Currently, Dr. Newberry owns a psychology practice with her husband in the Chicago suburbs which provides therapy and testing for a variety of presenting concerns. Dr. Newberry was raised in Florida, later moving to Illinois for graduate school. She enjoys spending time with her husband, teenage son, and their pets. She is an avid cross-fitter, enjoys photography, and loves to cook.



Dr. Christopher Rector is the fulltime Director of Practicum Training and Core Faculty for the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at National Louis University (ISPP) Psy.D. program as well as a member of the NLU IRB. He has over 13 years of graduate level counseling and clinical psychology teaching experience as well as administrative faculty experience, including Argosy Chicago and Loyola University Chicago. Additionally, he has nearly 19 years of clinical experience at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, specializing in medical integrated health care clinical practice and clinical education of masters and doctoral students. Dr. Rector is a published group researcher, with his most recent publication credit in the Journal of Palliative Medicine (2017) on statistical validation of the preparatory grief inventory.

Dr. Rector’s area of teaching and clinical specializations include trauma, crisis assessment and intervention, grief/loss counseling, cognitive behavioral therapies, solution focus brief treatment, integrated health care practice, and military veteran populations.

Additionally, Dr. Rector is currently the past president of ACEPT (Association of Chicagoland Extern and Practicum Training), an association of graduate program and clinical site training directors dedicated to graduate student clinical training experiences. He has been an active presenter to professional clinical and academic audiences for professional continuing education credits. Dr. Rector has a B.S. journalism, M.S. journalism and M.A. counseling degree from Northwestern University; and his Ph.D. degree from Loyola University Chicago. 



Dr. Emese Vitalis is a new full-time faculty member at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. She obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology from Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands, and has more than fifteen years of experience teaching face to face and online courses to college and graduate students from many different countries, social backgrounds, interests, and ages.

Dr. Vitalis has taught a wide variety of courses; most recently Cognitive and Affective Processes, Biological Basis of Behavior, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Research Methods, History and Systems, and Health Psychology. She has done research in learning and text understanding, trained middle and high school students in learning ad exam-taking strategies, and teachers in student learning processes. Dr. Vitalis has managed research groups, volunteers, and committees.

Dr. Vitalis currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Psychology Program at St. Augustine College in Chicago. Her clinical experience includes assessment, testing, and therapy. Dr. Vitalis also has an MBA and a Certificate of Entrepreneurship from the University of Montana and has experience in coaching start-up companies and writing business plans. Dr. Vitalis was born and raised in Hungary and has lived in four different countries. She enjoys traveling, writing, and movies.


Margaret S. Warner, Ph.D. is a distinguished professor at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at NLU, having taught classes relating to client-centered therapy, group therapy, family therapy, diversity and severe psychology since 1983. Her doctorate is in behavioral sciences from the committee on human development of the University of Chicago.

She is a client-centered therapist who has practiced for over 35 years, with a particular emphasis on work with clients experiencing “difficult process,” those typically diagnosed as borderline, narcissistic, dissociative identity disorders or schizophrenia. Her clinical training was undertaken at the Chicago Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, an offshoot of the original Counseling Center founded by Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago. She was a co-founder of the Minor in Client-Centered and Experiential Psychology at the Chicago campus of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Warner also has a particular interest in a person-centered approach to diversity issues. She co-founded a group called “Face to Face with Diversity” that conducted a day-long, person-centered diversity group at the Chicago 2000 conference. Following this, the Face to Face with Diversity group designed a group class called “Exploring Diversity” in which students explore diversity issues in an open person-centered group which as a “critical mass” of students of color. She co-founded Nia Services, a diversity-oriented, person-centered training site on the South Side of Chicago.

Dr. Warner has published widely and has offered many presentations to international groups on “difficult process,” diversity, and the person-centered theory of meaning. Dr. Warner, with a group of volunteers, convened Chicago 2000: The Fifth International Conference in Client-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, the first time that this conference had been held in the United States. She was a founding member of the World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling.



Dr. Zakowski is a professor in Clinical Psychology and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Illinois. She obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and subsequently completed a Clinical Respecialization at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  She has been teaching for over 20 years, and prior to joining the Illinois School of Professional Psychology she was a faculty member at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.  In addition, she worked as mental health program director for Heartland Alliance in Northern Iraq and helped develop a Master’s program in Clinical Psychology at Koya University where she also taught. 

Her clinical and academic interests focus on trauma, refugee psychology and international psychology.  She is particularly interested in cross-cultural applications of trauma treatment and in the psychological consequences of human rights abuses and forced migration.  She worked as a therapist at the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture for about seven years and continues to volunteer there.  She provides pro bono forensic psychological evaluations for asylum cases and conducts clinical consultations and training workshops internationally on topics related to trauma, the psychological consequences of forced migration, as well as health psychology.

Her current research investigates psychological trauma related to genocide, political persecution, and gender-based violence.   She is a member of the Scientists-on-Call program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has contributed scientific consultations for international organizations documenting human rights abuses. Prior to completing her clinical respecialization, her work was focused on health psychology research in the areas of psychoneuroimmunology, psycho-oncology, and the psychobiological effects of chronic and acute stress.


    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 Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

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