Staff

Daily operations for Interface School are managed by a talented and tight-knit team of professionals who are passionate about doing their part to add new talent to the tech pipeline.

Ellie Bruckner
Operations Coordinator

Ellie Bruckner is the Operations Coordinator at Interface. Starting at AIM Institute in an executive assistant role, Ellie was instantly drawn to the mission and impact in the community, which made the Interface team a great fit.  Ellie is also a double threat as she’s an Interface alumni! She graduated from Foundations of Web Development in December 2018, and will continue her education there because of her drive for trying new, challenging things. Ellie provides operational & administrative support to the Interface team, including student enrollments & coordinating financial aid.

Chris Cottrell
Recruitment and Placement Specialist

Chris joins Interface as our full time Recruitment and Placement Specialist.  She  has a wealth of experience within the fields of education and recruiting.  Chris has worked for both local and global staffing firms as well as spent eight years at Bellevue University (BU).  Chris supported both new students through her time within the Enrollment department and continuing students as a Graduate Adjunct Professor.  In her final role at BU, Chris was able to assist in the revamp of the Career Services department, which further contributed to the department mission of students finding jobs that best fit their skill set.   Chris is excited to put her experience towards assisting Interface students reach their full potential and find their ideal job within the IT industry.

Ellen Myer
Director

As Director, Ellen brings a strong background in tech education to Interface. She came to AIM from the SANS Institute, the global leader in cybersecurity training, education, and certification. There Ellen led recruitment and outreach efforts for the CyberTalent division, which held academies across the US, training veterans, women, and career changers in the cybersecurity field. AIM and Interface is a natural fit for her, as her goal at SANS was to fill the cybertalent gap, which aligns well with AIM’s mission to connect and inspire the tech talent community in Omaha. Ellen leads the Interface team, ensuring we’re continually recruiting inspired students, creating innovative classes and workshops, and producing the absolute best tech talent to fill the pipeline in Omaha.

Kent Smotherman
Senior Instructor

Kent Smotherman taught his first lecture class for computer programming in 1980 at Kansas State University, at the age of 19. Since then, he has learned and programmed in over 2 dozen programming languages. Web development using Java is his favorite, however. "Web development is just so accessible - you can do it from your couch. Combine that with the flexibility offered by Java, and you have an environment where the sky is the limit. It doesn't matter what you know now, it only matters what you are capable of learning. And with the right attitude, a little hard work, and a good instructor - anyone can learn web development."

Instructors

Interface’s instructors are carefully selected experts in their field that share a passion for education as adjunct faculty.

Christian Burk
Web Development

While he wrote his first program in 1987 (in Basic) and some others in Pascal in 1992, it wasn't until 2006 that Christian Burk began working in HTML as a part of his job. Since then, he's learned a lot about web technologies and languages, rebuilt the same University website using three different stacks in five years, managed a diverse team of programmers and has taught software engineering. He also helps mentor young and new programmers through Ask-a-Dev and organized the Omaha Drupal Meetup. Christian Burk has a masters degree in Creative Writing from University of Illinois and a second masters degree in Information Technology Management from Creighton University, where he also oversees web development as manager of IT solutions development.

Karen Denholm
Web Development

Karen Denholm didn’t set out to be a programmer/developer. It was a series of events that brought her to the career path that would be her calling. Beginning with mainframe programming in the early 90s and moving on to PC development and, later, web development, Karen has had many opportunities to hone and expand her problem-solving skills. Anyone who knows her knows she has a passion for animals as much as finding solutions to help ease the day-to-day activities people often find tedious. Of course, she has done work in that intersection where her passions lie and done web development for pet rescues. Her career has been most successful when searching for and fulfilling a need in niche markets.

Veronica Oleson
Web Development

Veronica Oleson is the founder of Oleson Creative, a media company the focuses on magically creative web design and development.  She graduated from UNO with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration in the summer of 2016.   Veronica has a passion for creating, teaching, tech, processes and start-ups.  She completed web developer training with Interface in 2016, and maintains the website for Omaha Bridges Out of Poverty. In her time off from work, she loves spending time with her family, helping others and traveling around the world, visiting a couple of new countries every year.

Joel C. Rainear-Wills
Application Development

Joel C. Rainear-Wills arrived in Omaha 11 years ago as an Airborne Cryptologic Operator for the USAF. In 2009, he separated and decided to attend UNO, where he completed a bachelor's degree in General Administration. After graduation, he became a mutual fund accountant for North Star Financial Services. It was there that he discovered his love for software development, which grew out of a desire to create modest solutions for mitigating inefficiency and error in daily accounting processes. Joel then earned an associate's degree in MIS from Metropolitan Community College, and landed a position at Farm Credit Services of America as an application developer. Joel strongly believes that those achieving some form success in anything must find and seize the opportunity to help others achieve success as well.

Lana Yager
Web Development

After more than 20 years in the IT field, Lana Yager became a Nebraska Certified teacher, teaching English as a Second Language and Computer Science.  Lana was awarded as the AIM for Brilliance Tech Educator for 2015 and won the Teacher of the Year for the National Center for Women in IT Aspirations in Computing for Nebraska/SW Iowa for 2017.  After retiring this year from teaching at Omaha South High School, Lana is continuing her passion to introduce people of all ages to technology throughout the Omaha community. Seeing someone smile after trying something completely new or challenging is one of her greatest joys!

Kent Smotherman
Full Stack Development

Kent Smotherman taught his first lecture class for computer programming in 1980 at Kansas State University, at the age of 19. Since then, he has learned and programmed in over 2 dozen programming languages. Web development using Java is his favorite, however. "Web development is just so accessible - you can do it from your couch. Combine that with the flexibility offered by Java, and you have an environment where the sky is the limit. It doesn't matter what you know now, it only matters what you are capable of learning. And with the right attitude, a little hard work, and a good instructor - anyone can learn web development."