Leadership Polk 

Leadership Polk is a Polk Vision program started in 2007 that brings together current and emerging leaders from across Polk County to develop a diverse network of resourceful, informed and proactive leaders who will contribute to building a more vibrant community.

Leadership Polk Class I graduated in May 2008 and Leadership Polk Class X will convene in August 2016.  The ten-month program immerses participants in an inspiring and enlightening curriculum that examines critical issues that impact Polk County.  Leadership Polk is topically relevant, dynamic, and exposes participants to a broad range of perspectives through location tours, facilitated conversation and experiential learning.


243 participants have graduated program
12 of the 17 municipalities have been represented
20 business categories have been represented
13% of participants represent a diverse group of minority population
44% of program participants have been female


What is Leadership Polk?

Leadership Polk is a Polk Vision program that brings together leaders from across Polk County who have demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement within our local communities. We seek individuals with a desire to expand their knowledge and involvement on a county-wide level. Over the course of ten months, we explore the “hot topics” facing Polk County through facilitated conversations, group interactions, expert presentations, location tours, and experiential learning. By participating in Leadership Polk, you will build relationships with other passionate, influential and positive-thinking leaders, and you will have a greater understanding of Polk County as the larger community that we all share.

Leadership Polk Goals

  • To educate and engage demonstrated leaders from various geographic, occupational and economic segments of Polk County.
  • To familiarize the participants with a wide range of community issues facing Polk County and the municipalities within the county.
  • To build a collaborative network of community leaders who can make a difference in Polk County.

 How can I apply?

The class selection process begins each spring with a call for nominations. We accept nominations during the month of April each year. All of those nominated, and only those nominated, will be invited to submit an application in May. Self-nominations are welcome.

We will be accepting nominations for Class XI beginning April 3rd  - April 28, 2017. If you would like to be notified when we are accepting nominations, please email reba@polkvision.com.

How is the class selected?


Class members are selected based on their leadership abilities, career accomplishments, volunteer activities, contributions to the community, and commitment to work towards a collaborative and thriving Polk County. These items are covered in the application, and letters of reference are not required or accepted.

Applications are given to a confidential Selection Committee, which closely examines them and performs the difficult task of selecting a representative cross-section of leaders as members of the upcoming class. Leadership Polk does not discriminate because of age, sex, race, religion, or national origin. The composition of the Selection Committee is kept confidential to prevent outside influence.

Typically there are more qualified applicants than positions available.  Because the program is limited in size, many qualified individuals must be deferred. Those not accepted in a given year may be considered again in subsequent years if they wish to reapply.

Spouses will not be accepted into the same class. Announced political candidates will not be accepted. Multiple applicants from the same business or organization are typically not selected into the same class, but rare exceptions may be made depending on the organizational structure.

What is my commitment?

Leadership Polk requires a serious commitment of time and energy. All dates are published in advance for planning purposes. If you work for a company or organization, their support is essential. If you are self-employed you will need to evaluate the requirements of the program as compared to your available time. Please review the calendar below for potential conflicts prior to applying.

To be eligible for graduation from the Leadership program, participants are required to attend the orientation, opening retreat, and closing retreat (click link below to view specific dates). In addition, participants may not miss more than one class day. Missing any portion of a class day will count as an absence. Class members who miss two class days (or any portion thereof) will be required to make up one of their two missed class days the following year. Should a class member miss three class days, he/she will no longer be part of the program, and no refund of tuition will be given. Attendance requirements are strictly enforced in order to maintain the integrity of the program and respect the commitment made by other class members.

Cell phone use is very limited during class events. You will have 1-2 brief (15 minute) phone breaks. You must be able to be without access to your phone/email for periods of up to 4 hours. A phone number will be provided for your business and/or family to use in case of emergency on class days.

Class XI Calendar

What topics will be covered?

Topics for the program will include Economic Development, Quality of Life, Infrastructure, Government, Education, and the History of Polk County.

We will also visit a variety of locations across Polk County including Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport,  Fort Meade, Frostproof, Haines City, Lake Wales,  Lakeland, Mulberry, & Winter Haven.Tuition covers the opening retreat accommodations and meals, 6 day-long sessions, luncheons and refreshments, and Graduation luncheon for participant and a guest.

Tuition for Leadership Polk is $1,850. Partial scholarships may be available, please contact us for more information.

Qualifications for application

If you are applying for Leadership Polk and you live and/or work in the following communities: Bartow, Haines City, Lakeland, Lake Wales or Winter Haven, you must be a graduate of your local Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Program before you can be considered for Leadership Polk. Individuals living and/or working in communities where the Chamber of Commerce does not offer a leadership program will be considered on an at-large basis. If you are unsure whether you must meet this requirement, please contact us in advance and we will direct you back to your local leadership program if necessary.

Contact information:

Reba Coil
Leadership Polk Program Manager 

Class X





Class X 

Liz Antaya- Stahl & Associates Insurance

Nolen Bailey- CPS Investments

Linda Bagley Wiggs- Bagley Wiggs CoLab

Jenny Baker- Watson Clinic

Steve Bissonette- VISTE

Gary Boyer- Boyer Building Corp

Jacqueline Byrd- Polk County School Board

Vanessa Castillo- City of Winter Haven

Chandra Frederick- Polk County Board of County Commissioners

Eugene Fultz- City of Lake Wales

Scott Gardner- Bank of Central Florida

Steve Githens- State Farm

Cari Herrington- All About Aging

Lauren Hinton- Polk County Department of Health

Billie Hutto- P and J Recreation

Brad Johnson-City of Lakeland

Joy Johnson- Polk County Board of County Commissioners

Tori Lehman- Clifton Larson Allen

Kimberly Marcum- Polk County Sheriff's Office

Chuck McDanal- consultant

Cody McGhee- City of Auburndale

Lita McHugh- Polk County Clerk of Courts

James Mott- CEMEX

Andy Palmer- City of Winter Haven

Trish Pfieffer- Simply Storage & Dream Street

James Sidou- Saddlecreek Logistics

Chad Tagtow- Citizens Bank & Trust

Julie Townsend-Lakeland Downtown Devleopment

Tom Wodrich- Polk Board of County Commissioners Long Range Planning