Skip to content

Creative Oklahoma Hosts 18 International Scholars Studying Innovative Solutions To Economic & Workforce Development

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 30th, 2019) — Creative Oklahoma (COK) is hosting a group of 18 experienced foreign faculty and practitioners who are visiting Oklahoma and two other states as part of a U.S. State Department-funded program to study socioeconomic trends that have changed the concept of work, workforce development and career paths in the United States.

The group, hailing from 18 different countries ranging from Guatemala to Russia, will be in Oklahoma City July 30 through Aug. 2nd. The program in which they are participating is managed by the University of Montana’s Mansfield Center, an academic unit dedicated to enhancing mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries and fostering ethical public policy and leadership.

While here, the group will learn about the importance innovation plays in developing a diverse economy and about the broad range of support resources available to Oklahoma entrepreneurs, including COK’s new Oklahoma Entrepreneur Mentoring Program (OKEMP). Additionally, they will hear from five leading experts who will discuss the significant workforce development initiatives underway across the state, and from an executive with the Chickasaw Nation discussing strategies it has used to dramatically diversify its economy. Their schedule will be rounded out by learning about creative placemaking and its critical role in developing a robust economic development strategy, and participating in an interactive workshop led by experts in placemaking from Downtown OKC, Inc.

Noted speakers featured in the packed two-day line-up include:

  • Rex Smitherman, Senior Vice President, i2E
  • Tommy Yi, President and Cofounder of StarSpace46
  • Erica Lucas, Founder of the Thunder Launchpad.
  • Craig Shimasaki, President & CEO, Moleculera Labs, Inc. (OKEMP co-chair)
  • Douglas Sorocco, Principal of Dunlap Codding (OKEMP co-chair)
  • Jonna Kauger Kirshner, Senior Vice President, Economic Development, Chickasaw Nation Industries.
  • Scott Fry, Director of Workforce Development, MidAmerica Industrial Park
  • Dr. Marcie Mack, State Director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education
  • Sharon Harrison, Director of Workforce Development & Community Partnerships, Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance
  • Tamara Pratt, Vice President of Workforce Development, Rose State College
  • Shelly Ellis, Executive Director of Support/School Improvement, Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • Jane Jenkins, President & CEO, Downtown OKC Inc.

The other destinations and topics slated for the group are Athens, Georgia with a focus on developing talent and educating the workforce and Washington, D.C. for a critical look at our democracy’s foundations.

Creative Oklahoma is a statewide non-profit organization advancing Oklahoma’s economy through programs, projects and collaborative ventures that help develop a more entrepreneurial, innovation-based economy and an improved quality of life for all Oklahomans. Its mission is to develop, promote and celebrate Oklahoma’s creative solutions and innovative thinking in education, commerce and culture. For more information, please visit

The components of this program have been designed to achieve the following:

  • Provide an introduction to U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions through a creative, problem-solving model through the lens of Youth, Workforce Development, and Closing the Skills Gap. The role of democratic principles, including respect for diversity, will be addressed. Regional and cultural balance is assured in residencies and study tours.
  • Use experiential learning techniques from a variety of angles including civic initiatives, market approaches, and government policies to expose you to debates within the topic of Youth, Workforce Development, and Closing the Skills Gap.
  • Introduce various partners that define the Institute from the perspective of our citizens.
  • Use the participants’ home experiences to put the Institute’s themes into a global context.

To learn more about the scholars and their country affiliation.

For additional information:
Stéphanie Coderre Porras Bell

Meloyde Blancett

Posted in ,
Scroll To Top