Dr. Ryan Watley
Dr. Watley was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and joined Go Forward Pine Bluff as CEO-elect in May of 2017. He became CEO after the successful passage of the Go Forward Pine Bluff tax initiative on June 13, 2017.
He has held development positions with Northeast Academy in Oklahoma City and Rose State Community College. He has been part of numerous leadership organizations and is involved in numerous community organizations and has organized a Christmas Potluck that provides a meal to the entire community on Christmas day for over 11 years.
Ryan holds a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from the University of Oklahoma where he has been published and was awarded a United States patent for his drug development methodology. In 2020, LISC awarded Dr. Watley the Rubinger Community Fellowship. Ryan is a member of the Leadership Arkansas Class XIV.
Office Manager/HR Advisor
Executive Director of the Generator
Mildred J. Franco joined GFPB in September of 2017 to serve as Executive Director of The Generator, an innovation hub powered by Go Forward Pine Bluff (GFPB). She also serves as the coordinator of GFPB’s Educational Alliance and oversees GFPB’s Workforce Development and Employability Training Initiatives.
Ms. Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Management from McGill University. She has worked in the oil industry in the areas of oil production and international marketing in Venezuela, and oil trading in New York City. In Arkansas, she co-founded CHI Computers + Solutions, LLC, later known as K12Discount.com, an internet retail provider of computer products and services to educational institutions across the U.S., serving as the CEO.
Ms. Franco is active in the non-profit space in organizations that support entrepreneurship, ecosystem building, innovation, women, and the arts. She is a co-founder of the Pascale International Fellows Program and the Pascale Franco Yale-McGill Lecture Series on the Study of Canada She also serves on the boards of the EAST Initiative, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce – ex-officio, and the Arkansas Arts Council.
Frequent assessment and feedback are critical to ensuring that participants are actively involved in their own learning and that facilitators have evidence that each participant is making progress. Each track includes the expected participant outcomes throughout the track ab within each session time frame. To allow participants flexibility in reaching their learning goals, the program does not assess the completion of specific projects or activities.
Upon completion of each session, participants will be encouraged to offer feedback to improve future program offerings. Learners who begin their summer sessions at the beginner or intermediate track will work to progress to the next track during the next module. Learners who complete the advanced track may be invited to return as peer facilitators.
The Advanced Track participant demonstrates confident inherent digital skills and comfort with several digital resources. These participants prefer and use certain digital resources to support projects; furthermore, these participants demonstrate confidence at being able to talk about the digital resources they use to support their projects.
Method: The advanced track module inspires advanced track participants to design and create their own app, game, website, or other digital resources to support participant-driven projects. Advanced track participants will be encouraged to ask, “What else can I use to do this?”, then investigate multiple digital platforms to determine which best supports their project. Using the neighborhood park example, advanced track participants would explore various Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D printing resources to determine which best suits outdoor layouts and park/playground equipment. Advanced track participants will comfortably use digital and physical technologies that support proposed outcomes for participant-identified predicaments in their home, school, work, church, or community. The facilitators will offer over-the-shoulder and resource-reference assistance as requested. Advanced track participants are confident in their ability to collaborate with other participants and offer peer facilitator support if desired.
Outcome: The goal for advanced track participants is to demonstrate confident fluency in the use of digital technologies that empowers the participants to pursue more challenging projects and/or resolve more complex predicaments. “Graduates” of the advanced track will demonstrate creativity, self-confidence, digital fluency, and digital resource reference details in the sharing of their final project.
The Intermediate Track participant demonstrates some inherent digital skills and familiarity with some digital resources. These participants may know how to use digital coding to support projects; furthermore, these participants demonstrate confidence at being able to access basic digital resources to help them “tell their story” or complete simple digital-based projects.
Method: The intermediate track module engages intermediate track participants with the behind-the-scenes power of more complex digital platforms such as program animation or digital art to support participant-driven projects. Intermediate track participants will be empowered to explore digital and physical technologies that support proposed outcomes for participant-identified predicaments in their home, school, work, church, or community. The facilitators will offer over-the-shoulder and resource-reference assistance as requested.
Outcome: The goal for intermediate track participants is to develop confident fluency in the use of digital technologies that empowers the participants to pursue more challenging projects and/or resolve more complex predicaments. “Graduates” of the intermediate track will demonstrate creativity, self-confidence, and digital fluency in the sharing of their final project.
The Beginner Track participant may or may not realize that they have few (if any) inherent digital skills. Many of our participants have experience with mobile devices such as personal mobile phones, and many are fluent in “text-ese” and social media platforms; however, beginner track participants have not mastered the standard QWERTY keyboard using more than their thumbs or index fingers. Beginner track participants have limited skill using digital technologies to find and include appropriate multimedia support for a project.
Method: The beginner track module introduces beginner track participants to the behind-the-scenes power of coding, multimedia support, and digital platforms. Beginner track participants will be introduced to digital and physical resources that empower them to create a project or “tell their story” in compelling fashion based on their initial story-sharing time on Day 1. The facilitators will offer over-the-shoulder assistance as necessary to help the beginner track participant overcome known and latent fears regarding the use of digital resources.
Outcome: The goal for beginner track participants is to develop basic fluency in the use of digital technologies that empowers the participants to pursue more challenging personal projects and/or resolve more complex predicaments. “Graduates” of the beginner track will demonstrate creativity and self-confidence in the sharing of their final project.
Participants will fall into one of three digital skill “tracks”:
1. Beginner (little or no inherent digital skills)
2. Intermediate (demonstrated inherent digital skills; familiarity with digital technologies)
3. Advanced (demonstrated digital skill fluency; mastery of one or more digital technologies)