Staff - Creating IT Futures

Creating IT Futures Staff

Our Staff

Meet our staff. We have one singular mission: To help populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in IT careers. We’re here because we care.

Kathy Brennan – Senior Manager of IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul
Karin Carston – Program Coordinator, IT-Ready
Colleen Crino – Chief Development Officer
Charles Eaton – CEO
Amy Eernisse-Liang – Workforce Solutions Manager, Portland, OR
Lisa Fasold – Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
Christina Hannon – Work-Based Learning Program Manager
Kate Kirschner – Employer Relationship Manager
Jeff Lareau – Manager, Strategic Partnerships
Eric Larson – Senior Director of IT Futures Labs
Anderson Lee – Relationship Manager
Tom Liszka – Senior Digital Brand Manager
Stacy Litwin – Executive Assistant
Nicole Maseberg – Workforce Development Program Manager
Joan Matz – Senior Manager, IT Futures Labs
Andrea McMillian – Manager, Workforce Strategy and Innovation
Kathleen Mrazek – Manager
Natasha Pender – Manager, Workforce Solutions 
Lauren Pierce – Workforce Development Program Manager
Sue Wallace – Executive Director, Minnesota

KathyBrannan Kathy Brennan, Senior Manager of IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul
Kathy Brennan, senior manager of IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul, is responsible for the recruitment, assessment and development of IT-Ready students. Kathy has worked with Creating IT Futures since March 2012 placing IT-Ready Graduates in paid apprenticeships with companies throughout the Twin Cities. She became the IT-Ready site manager in July 2013. Kathy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC) and enjoys spending time with her husband and the couple's four children.

Kathy says, “Working for the students and helping them connect with local employers is extremely rewarding!”

KarinNordmeyerKarin Carston, Program Coordinator, IT-Ready  
As the IT-Ready program coordinator, Karin is responsible for the online aspects of the training program and distribution of testing vouchers to the different IT-Ready training locations. She looks forward to providing students with the tools they need to be successfully certified for employment in the IT field. Prior to CompTIA, Karin built a background in retail management and customer service. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education at Mankato State University – Edina.

Karin says: “It is such a great opportunity to be a part of Creating IT Futures and to provide support for our IT students. I am very excited to be a part of CompTIA and to share their commitment of being a leader in the IT industry.”

CCrino headshot Colleen Crino, Chief Development Officer

As our chief development officer, Colleen leads the planning and implementation of strategies to develop revenue streams that support the continued growth of Creating IT Futures. Colleen comes from a background of designing fundraising, marketing and loyalty strategy in both the non-profit and corporate world. Leading cross-functional teams at the American Red Cross, Colleen built national fundraising campaigns and donor funding opportunities, and supported the national field fundraising organization. Prior to that, in a series of leadership roles at American Express, she led loyalty and business development initiatives through corporate partnership, development of new technology platforms and strategic program marketing. Colleen is passionate about donor and customer experience, as well as innovative partnership opportunities. She is based in Washington, DC, and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. 

Colleen says, “There is no better time to be focused on empowering our youth and creating new economic opportunities through technology than now. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to impact the lives of individuals and families by creating paths to a successful future.”

Charles EatonCharles Eaton, CEO
Charles joined Creating IT Futures in June 2010 with 17 years of prior non-profit management experience. Most recently he led fundraising, business development and marketing initiatives for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), a growing healthcare association focused on improving healthcare quality and patient safety. Before joining APIC, Charles served as VP of member relations for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which organizes the largest tradeshow in North America, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Charles leads Creating IT Futures from his home office in Washington, D.C., where he and his wife are raising four children ranging from toddler to college age.

To learn more about Charles, read his full bio
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Charles says: “Getting people jobs is a great job. So many social challenges can be solved by providing someone a meaningful career and a living wage.”

amy headshot Amy Eernisse-Liang, Workforce Solutions Manager, Portland, OR
Amy helps to grow our IT-Ready program in Portland by establishing a meaningful presence in the community and developing partnerships with local organizations and businesses to ensure the success of IT-Ready students as they embark upon their careers. Amy joins our team with more than 12 years of non-profit experience in various capacities including workforce development, youth development, leadership and empowerment, community engagement and volunteer management within organizations such as the American Red Cross, Braille Institute, San Diego Futures Foundation and SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) San Diego. In her free time, Amy takes every opportunity she gets to go camping, climbing or adventuring with her husband and pug, Scooter.

Amy says, “One of the things I love to do the most in my work and personal life is to connect people with something meaningful. The idea of connecting students with life-changing and sustainable career opportunities is beyond purposeful. I’m truly ecstatic and grateful to get to work that doesn’t feel like work.”

LisaFasold Lisa Fasold, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
Maybe inspired by her mother who started her own tech career back in the 1960s when women were few and far between in the tech ranks, Lisa has worked in communications for tech groups since her college days, first as a journalist and later as a public relations pro. For several years she led the communications efforts of the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest tech event. While building her own boutique agency, she consulted for Creating IT Futures early on to help America’s military veterans establish their own IT careers. Most recently she worked for CompTIA, leading its traditional media and social media outreach worldwide. She’s pleased to return to Creating IT Futures and help to grow its outreach nationwide, so that every hard-working individual can launch their own IT career. Never staying far from her alma mater at Georgetown University, Lisa works for us from her office in the suburbs of Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Lisa says, “I’ve always been a story-teller, and what better stories are there to tell when someone puts in the hard work and lands back on their feet. The participants in our programs inspire me every day, and it’s an honor to tell their stories.”

ChristinaGrabekWebChristina Hannon, Work-Based Learning Program Manager

As our Work-Based Learning Program Manager, Chrissy is closing the gap between student and career within the IT sector by supporting efforts to provide students in high school and post-secondary education work-based learning experiences. In the past two years, more than 200 students in Chicago alone have benefited from Creating IT Futures’ work-based learning programs and internships with local employers. Chrissy’s career has been largely in Account and Project Management with both a digital and traditional focus since graduating from Illinois State University in 2008.

Christina says: “I cannot express how excited and honored I feel to be working within an organization that focuses on the future of today’s youth. There is no more rewarding of a feeling than helping someone’s career from conception and knowing they will be happier in their life as a result!”

Kate Kirschner Kate Kirschner, Employer Relationship Manager

Kate Kirschner comes from a varied career background of recruiting, project management and marketing within creative and technical industries, including software development and sports media. Her expertise in talent development and building meaningful connections led her to Creating IT Futures as our employer relationship manager connecting employers and IT-Ready graduates. Most recently, Kate worked as a digital recruiter placing creative and technical talent at Fortune 500 companies throughout the U.S.  A proud University of Wisconsin-Madison grad, she also holds a Masters in Business Communication from University of St. Thomas and enjoys being involved in the Twin Cities tech community. 

Kate says, “I'm excited to bring my passion for introducing others to information technology and promoting diversity in the tech community to IT-Ready. Connecting people to meaningful, sustainable and in-demand career opportunities is extremely rewarding.”

JeffLareauJeff Lareau, Manager, Strategic Partnerships
With his background in workforce development, career counseling and nonprofit management, Jeff loves to help people get back into the workforce. Currently he leads our relations with strategic partners for our workforce development programs. Jeff previously operated under the JD-NEG grant program at Creating IT Futures to assist participating Local Workforce Investment Areas in the recruitment, training and placement of long-term, unemployed IT professionals. He has developed a number of assessment tools and resources to support IT workforce initiatives. Jeff has career counseling experience from DuPage County’s Workforce Development Division, as well as experience managing career services at MicroTrain Technologies. In 2013, he graduated with an MBA from Hult International Business School in London, UK. In his free time, he likes playing music and watching way too many movies.

Jeff says: “I’m thrilled to be here at Creating IT Futures making long-term differences in the IT workforce!”

EricLarsonWebsiteEric Larson, Senior Director of IT Futures Labs
Eric has worked in the journalism and nonprofit fields for over 20 years. In 2016 he led the creation of PrepareU, a soft-skills training curriculum for tech workers, and is currently directing development of the NextUp initiative which is aimed at interesting more teens in tech careers. Eric serves Creating IT Futures from a home-based office in Raleigh, N.C., where he and his wife cater to three young children.

To learn more about Eric, read his full bio.
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Eric says: “It’s a real honor to be able to tell the story of how Creating IT Futures is radically changing lives. When you help someone develop a career, you impact every aspect of their personal story for the better.”

AndersonLeeAnderson Lee, Relationship Manager 
Anderson’s experience includes advising at-risk college students interested in applying for internships and supporting job seekers eager to re-enter the workforce after earning certifications in IT. His role as our relationship manager enables him to build upon both as he encourages employers to establish internship opportunities leading to full-time employment for under-represented students majoring in IT at City Colleges of Chicago. He is a current board member of the Cooperative Education and Internship Association and a past president of the Illinois Cooperative Education and Internship Association. A product of New York City Public Schools, he holds degrees from Northwestern University and Columbia University in the City of New York as well as a membership in the Professional Association of Résumé Writers. If he can ever get around to it, he enjoys playing hockey.

Anderson says: "Personally and professionally, helping begin someone’s career is beyond rewarding, and being able to do so as a part of Creating IT Futures is a privilege."

TomLiszkaTom Liszka, Senior Digital Brand Manager

As our senior digital brand manager, Tom leads the strategy and management of our social networks and digital advertising to increase visibility, participation and traffic across all our brands. Tom has spent the majority of his career in social media, working as the social media manager for the CompTIA marketing team before officially joining Creating IT Futures in 2015. Outside of work, you can find this Marquette University alumnus on the volleyball court. Originally from the Chicago area, Tom is based in Boulder, Colorado. 

Tom says: “I am thankful for the opportunity to transition over to Creating IT Futures. To know we are providing a great service to those who just need a chance is such a rewarding feeling. The students have inspired me from day one, and it’s a privilege to socialize their success.”

StacyLitwinStacy Litwin, Executive Assistant
Stacy joined Creating IT Futures in Spring 2015 after nearly three years working for CompTIA, supporting the association’s certification sales team and managing the training and workshop logistics for 40+ global team members. Prior to CompTIA, she was an executive assistant for several IL firms as well as a regional event coordinator for Microsoft and sales administrator for GE Capital. While supporting our board and CEO, Stacy is project managing our trade events as we extend our reach with employers and partners within the IT channel.

Stacy says: “It’s amazing the amount of work we’re already doing to help people launch their IT careers. I’m glad to be a part of it and help Creating IT Futures grow, especially connecting employers to more potential IT workers.”

NicoleMasebergNicole Maseberg, Workforce Development Program Manager
Nicole comes to Creating IT Futures with a background in Workforce Development as a case manager and assessment counselor, assisting residents of DuPage County to overcome barriers to employment through the Workforce Investment Act Grant (WIA). She will be providing support to local workforce agencies in Illinois to ensure the success of the IT focused Job-Driven National Emergency Grant. Nicole will be able to contribute her previous direct client contact experience to help redevelop assessment materials and streamline services to navigate candidates into IT pathways through grant funding programs. In her free time Nicole enjoys spending time with her husband, young son and black lab.

Nicole says: “It’s very exciting to continue my role in the Workforce Development System and see the positive outcomes that assistance through grant funding can provide to our local workforce.”

JoanMatzJoan Matz, Senior Manager, IT Futures Labs
Joan Matz works to interest teens in tech careers by helping to manage the development of NextUp. She has managed the IT Learning Exchange for the State of Illinois, which focused on improving tech education, work-based learning models and other resources for high school and post-secondary students. IT Learning Exchange is a partnership with school districts, post-secondary institutions, companies, workforce boards and foundations to increase the number of IT learners and workers. Prior to her work with Creating IT Futures, she helped to found a tech high school, Chicago Tech Academy, and developed IT business relationships for the school, resulting in one-on-one mentors for students, jobs and internships, curriculum advice, field trips and hackathons. The majority of her prior experience is around IT project and program management in various industry sectors.  

Joan says: “I enjoy spreading the word about how great IT jobs are to students, parents and school staff, and helping students be better prepared for those jobs.”

Andrea McMillianAndrea McMillian, Manager, Workforce Strategy and Innovation 
Joining Creating IT Futures in 2015, Andrea now develops new business strategies and partner relations for our workforce programs nationwide. For the past two years, she was responsible for expanding workforce development initiatives in Chicago and spearheading partnership growth for Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools. Andrea joined Creating IT Futures with 10 years of business development and management experience and is based at our headquarters in Downers Grove, IL. A graduate of North Central College, Andrea was the first in her family to attend and graduate college, and she remains passionate about advancing educational opportunities for others. Her passion drives her to serve on the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board, which organizes fundraising and scholarship awards for local students. At home, she and her husband have happily accepted their role as full-time referees to their three sons.   

Andrea says: “It is a true privilege to support the reach of this transformational organization that educates and prepares hardworking people for IT careers. The best part is being able to share this amazing opportunity with others!”

Kathy MrazekKathleen Mrazek, Manager 
Kathleen came to Creating IT Futures in March 2008 with experience in special education, technology support and workforce development. Based at headquarters in Downers Grove, IL, she has worked for three years as Manager, assisting the Senior Manager of National Workforce Programs in building program awareness and partnerships. Herself a dislocated worker retrained through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), she has a unique perspective when working closely with Creating IT Futures candidates.

Kathleen says: “The most satisfying thing about working for Creating IT Futures is the connection I have with our participants. Encouraging individuals to begin, complete and continue training towards an IT career has been very rewarding.”

Natasha PenderNatasha Pender, Workforce Solutions Manager, Charlotte, NC
As the lead for our IT-Ready program in Charlotte, Natasha is developing partnerships with local organizations and businesses and matching employment opportunities for our graduates. Natasha is the former program manager for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), an initiative that assists job seekers, aged 55 and older, in obtaining employment via a network of paid "on the job" training opportunities in the five counties surrounding Charlotte. She also worked as the youth program manager for the Centralina Workforce Development Board where she oversaw grant compliance for youth Workforce Investment Act (WIA) contracts. Natasha has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from King University in Bristol, TN, and a master’s degree in organization development from Queens University in Charlotte, NC. She is also a licensed ACT Job Profiler, a discipline that assesses benchmarks for hiring, recruiting, training and advancement using a focus-group approach. She has a wonderful 13-year-old son, Izayah.

Natasha says: “What an honor to join the CompTIA team and affect lives through amazing workforce development initiatives that prepare individuals for careers in IT, not just facilitating employment opportunities, but truly changing lives and impacting futures.”

LaurenPierceLauren Pierce, Workforce Development Program Manager  
Lauren joined Creating IT Futures in 2017 bringing with her a varied background in workforce development as a career counselor, assessment counselor, facilitator and disability specialist. Having worked in DuPage County, IL, and Dallas, TX, assisting diverse populations of job seekers, she brings unique experience to local workforce programs and grants that support and guide individuals into IT pathways. For Creating IT Futures, she helps to bridge the gap among the local workforce programs and services and aid by integrating resources and grant funding to assist individuals in pursuing IT careers. In her free time, you will find Lauren spending time with her husband and two energetic boys.

Lauren says: “Being a part of Creating IT Futures, a program that is helping individuals succeed in achieving their career goals in IT, who may have previously believed IT was not an option, is why I am passionate about what I do in workforce development.”

Sue WallaceSue Wallace, Executive Director, Minnesota
As Executive Director for Minnesota, Sue Wallace is responsible for the program operations and fundraising in the state. Sue started her professional career in the IT industry and moved on to spend nearly 14 years in nonprofit workforce development before joining Creating IT Futures. She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from Ball State University. She is actively involved in her community and enjoys spending time with her husband and three boys.

To learn more about Sue, read her full bio.
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Sue says: “Through Creating IT Futures, people gain access to the tools they need to obtain great IT jobs that pay well and have advancement potential. The impact it has on their lives is remarkable, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.”

Creating IT Futures

A 501(c)(3) charity was established in 1998 by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry Trade Association, as a way to help people improve their lives through IT careers.


We help populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in IT careers.


Creating IT Futures
c/o CompTIA
3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Phone: (630) 678-8300