Quality of Life Team

The Quality of Life LEAD Team is comprised of representatives from across Polk County including non-profits, social services, government, health care, education, and faith-based organizations. Through this diverse membership, different perspectives are gleaned when probing the wide ranging and complex issues contributing to the Quality of Life in Polk County.

Although health is one of the important domains quality of life, there are many other aspects — jobs, housing, schools, as well as natural and built environments. Intangibles such as culture, values, and spirituality are also key to overall quality of life that add to the complexity of its definition.

Throughout the Fall of 2018, the Team hosted a number of guest speakers and explored a variety of topics in order to set the Team’s focus for the coming year. The Team also sought feedback and guidance from other Polk Vision LEAD Teams to determine how best to align efforts in achieving the long term vision of the organization.  

What the Team discovered was that regardless of the topic, a recurring observation was the need for deeper awareness, understanding and broader community engagement. With so many resources available right here in our own community, Polk County is so vast that even providers serving the same population can be unaware of the other’s range of services.   In an attempt to best manage these efforts, the Team decided to focus on the Winter Haven community, and then methodically advance their work to other areas of the County.

Current and future community outreach strategies are geared to share information and resources through an ongoing learning network allowing cross-sector collaboration with other Polk Vision LEAD Teams.  Progress is being made on improving engagement through knowledge and information sharing among Team members. Broadening community-wide involvement will further assist to connect people to community based services.

The coming year will find the Quality of Life Team working to improve awareness of available community resources and services, communicating and building relationships among targeted communities, and creating opportunities to connect, learn, and engage . . . for all aspects of quality of life.

“There have been many ‘aha’ moments expressed by Team members who continue to learn from each other through these alignment meetings. I am energized by the future opportunities ahead of us, to be part of something that positively affects people and the community in which I live is rewarding.”

– Joy Johnson, Relations Administrator, Health & Human Services Division, Polk County BoCC



Quality of Life Team

Steve Bissonnette - Co-Chair, VISTE

Joy Johnson - Co-Chair, Polk County BoCC

Ben Abbott - Multiply Christian Church

Andrea Anderson - Tri-County Human Services

Marcia Andresen - Polk County BoCC

Brad Beatty - Heart for Winter Haven

Donna Bledsoe - Multiply Christian Church

Penny Borgia - United Way of Central Florida

Tim Brown IMO - African American Community Development

Carley Carden - Peace River Center

Suzel Ceglarek - Polk County BoCC

Bruce Clark - Association for Inwood Community Inc.

Teresa Even - BayCare

Taylor Freeman - Florida Department of Health in Polk

Jamie Harrell - Polk County BoCC

Bettie Harrell-Jones - The Way at Inwood

Edwin Harvey - Polk County Shierff's Office

Minnie Hassele - Association for Inwood Community Inc.

Cathy Hatch - Polk County BoCC

Steve Horstman - Polk County Sheriff's Office

Madelyn Kirsch - Multiply Christian Church

Keri Kozicki - BayCare

Meri Mass - Polk Arts Alliance

Tim Mitchell - Parker Street Ministries

Alice Nuttall - Lakeland Regional Health

Andy  Palmer - City of Winter Haven 

Tricia Pichette - Polk County BoCC

Craig Pickos - Floridians for Recovery Polk County

Rob Quam - Lake Wales Care Center

Robert Rihn - Tri-County Human Services

Ben Ruch - Polk County Public Schools

Stephen Savarimuthu - Lake Wales Care Center

Katie Tinsley - Alliance for Independence

Hattie Thomas - The Way at Inwood

Brenda Torres - Central Florida Regional Planning Councel

Holly Vida - BayCare

Nicole Walker - UF/IFAS

Jeff Ware - BayCare

Steve Warner - Polk County Public Schools

Nat West - Winter Haven Public Education Partnership

Chris Young - The Way at Inwood




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