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.
– Senior Manager of IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul Caitlin Conklin
– Manager, Philanthropy Charles Eaton
– CEO Lisa Fasold
– Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Christina Hannon
– Work-Based Learning Program Manager Gretchen Koch
– Executive Director, Workforce Development Strategies Jeff Lareau
– Manager, Strategic Partnerships Eric Larson
– Senior Director of IT Futures Labs Anderson Lee
– Relationship Manager Tom Liszka
– Social & Digital Media Manager Stacy Litwin
– Executive Assistant Nicole Maseberg
– Workforce Development Program Manager Joan Matz
– Senior Grants Manager Andrea McMillian
– Manager, Workforce Strategy and Innovation Kathleen Mrazek
– Manager Karin Nordmeyer
– Program Coordinator, IT-Ready Lauren Pierce
– Workforce Development Program Manager Tom Pinger
– Employer Solutions Specialist Adam Turner
– Senior Director, Training and Program Operations Sue Wallace
– Executive Director, Minnesota
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!”
Caitlin Conklin, Manager, Philanthropy
Caitlin has been with Creating IT Futures since 2014. As our philanthropy manager, she is responsible for fundraising campaigns and donor relations to enable our workforce development and STEM programs. Caitlin has spent her career in development and fundraising working mostly in higher education institutions, including University of Chicago, Gettysburg College and Michigan State University. She is based at our headquarters in Downers Grove, IL. Caitlin is a proud Michigan State alumna and enjoys spending her free time reading and at the gym.
Caitlin says, “It’s been a great privilege to be able to create opportunities for people to get careers in IT that they love and can succeed in. Hearing the stories of IT-Ready alumni who are now able to provide for themselves and their families is really what makes my job worthwhile. Working for Creating IT Futures has been the most wonderful and rewarding experience .”
Charles 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
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.”
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.”
, 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!”
Gretchen Koch, Executive Director, Workforce Development Strategies
Gretchen joined Creating IT Futures in 2014 after 11 years with CompTIA and, prior to that, more than 20 years in the IT industry. At Compaq and HP her career culminated as Global Services Manager for K-12 and Post-Secondary Education. Arriving at CompTIA in 2003, she parlayed her knowledge of industry and educational systems to become a nationally known change agent for IT workforce development. In her role as the Executive Director of Workforce Development Strategies, she continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Education on its Data Sharing Project and currently leads efforts with the State of Illinois and the Chicago Workforce Funders Alliance to develop and promote IT career pipelines in the state. When she is not working from headquarters in Downers Grove, IL, she spends a great amount of time in Downtown Chicago working with local leaders in education and workforce development.
To learn more about Gretchen, read her full bio
Gretchen says: “Working at CompTIA, and now with Creating IT Futures, affords me a wonderful opportunity to advance changes in IT career education and workforce development on a national scale that can impact our youth and unemployed adults in significant ways.”
Jeff 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!”
Eric 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
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.”
Anderson 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."
Tom Liszka, Social & Digital Media Manager
As the Social & Digital Media Manager, Tom is responsible for creating a comprehensive media strategy to define programs that use social and digital media to increase visibility, participation and traffic across all brands. Tom has spent the majority of his career in social media, most recently working as the Social Media Manager for CompTIA.
Outside of work, you can find this Marquette University alumnus on the volleyball court. Tom is based at Creating IT Futures headquarters in Downers Grove, IL.
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.”
Stacy 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.”
Nicole 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.”
Joan Matz, Senior Grants Manager
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 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!”
Kathleen 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.”
Karin Nordmeyer, 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.”
Lauren 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.”
Tom Pinger, Employer Solutions Specialist
Tom is responsible for identifying and building relationships with Minneapolis / St. Paul employers to secure new positions for IT-Ready graduates. Tom joins Creating IT Futures with extensive new business development experience in the healthcare market vertical as well as with Fortune 1000 companies. He focuses on creating customer-specific solutions to match our IT-Ready graduates with suitable and satisfying employment opportunities. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Tom is a diehard Badger fan.
Tom says: “Helping IT-Ready graduates transform their lives by securing opportunities for them and begin meaningful IT careers is personally and professionally rewarding.”
Adam Turner, Senior Director, T
raining and Program Operations
Adam directs the program operations of Creating IT Futures as well as CompTIA’s new Training Strategies Group, which provides high-quality technical and business skill training through dedicated trainers. Prior to joining us in 2017, Adam founded and was the director of A Critical Path, the training company that CompTIA acquired at the end of 2016. Our IT-Ready program has been using trainers from A Critical Path since 2012. Adam is passionate about developing new ways of delivering excellence through training.
Adam says: “I’m always focused on our students’ and clients’ needs and how we can improve their training experience, giving them best-of-breed courses. We’ll continue to keep improving IT-Ready and our other Creating IT Futures programs.”
Sue 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
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.”