Colin appears in the Top 100

Innovators & Entrepreneurs magazine

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Colin Lacy

Looking at economists’ predictions, Colin Lacy and Dr. Stephanie Santoso were concerned: young people are predicted to be economically worse off than their parents, and inequality of opportunity, particularly in relation to parental wealth, still prevents so many youths from actualizing their dreams. “If people of color, women, and those from low-income communities became inventors and entrepreneurs at the same rate as men from high-income households, innovation in the U.S. would quadruple,” Colin says. 

In 2021, they co-founded MakerUSA, a nonprofit incubated in the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). MakerUSA’s mission is to build stronger pathways into careers in making and entrepreneurship, including advanced manufacturing, computer science, alternative energy, and the skilled trades. Colin serves as CEO and Stephanie as president. Six months later, over 52 institutions across 24 states applied to partner. Applications have come from community and technical colleges, HBCUs, tribal universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and community-based makerspaces, among others.

MakerUSA embeds locally recruited program managers at partner sites to lead on projects that the community has defined. “Imagine if every community college had teams exclusively focused on empowering students on maker-related career pathways,” Colin says.

Stephanie and Colin each draw on extensive experience in the educational arena. Stephanie, with a PhD in information science from Cornell, served as Senior Advisor for Making at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2014-16, helping develop the Nation of Makers initiative, broadening access to makerspaces and maker education across the country. Colin earned his master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has served as an elected school board director and chamber of commerce president in rural Colorado. He was a founding leader and former executive director of Makers + Mentors Network, a community of STEM ecosystems serving over 200,000 students.

“We’re excited about the diversity of communities eager to partner,” Stephanie says. “We love bringing people and organizations together that might not have connected before, in ways that surface new ideas and solutions.” Similarly, Colin is excited about building a new kind of workforce. “At scale, MakerUSA program managers would become a new national workforce, exclusively focused on growing pathways into maker careers and entrepreneurship within our most marginalized communities.”

Colin Lacy, Co-Founder & CEO — MakerUSA
Dr. Stephanie Santoso, Co-Founder & President — MakerUSA
LinkedIn: MakerUSA, Colin Lacy, Dr. Stephanie Santoso