Polk State College’s District Board of Trustees (DBOT) elected Teresa V. Martinez as Chair and Cindy Hartley Ross as Vice Chair for the 2023-2024 Academic Year during its August 28, 2023, meeting.
The role of Chair was previously filled by Greg Littleton and the role of Vice Chair was filled by Martinez. The DBOT also welcomed its newest Board members Ann Barnhart and Ashley Troutman. The Board also includes Ashley Bell Barnett.
“Our District Board of Trustees provides visionary leadership and critical support for our College,” Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti said. “I am grateful to Trustee Littleton for his service as Chair. I also welcome our newest Board members and congratulate Chair Martinez and Vice Chair Ross on their elections. I am honored to serve our community and College alongside each of our Board members.”
Martinez, a Polk State Distinguished Alumna who graduated in 1975, has served the Board since 2009, including previous terms as Chair and Vice Chair. She is a Cuban exile who enrolled at what was then Polk Junior College shortly after arriving in the U.S. She is the founder and President of the Institute of Spanish Communications, Inc., and serves as Publisher of ¡Viva Polk! Magazine. Martinez was formally a Spanish teacher at Lakeland High School and an international interpreter for the Miss Universe organization.
She currently serves as Secretary for the Polk Vision Board of Directors. She has also served on the boards of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, Club Hispano de Lakeland, and Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, and is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland and Leadership Polk.
Ross, also a Polk State Distinguished Alumna, has served on the DBOT for 20 years, from 1999 to 2011 and since 2015. She has served as both Chair and Vice Chair in previous terms. She has also served on the Polk State College Foundation Board and as President of the Polk State College Alumni Association and continues to serve on the Foundation Board as liaison for the DBOT.
Ross is the owner of Social Graces, a company specializing in etiquette and protocol training. She most recently served two terms as the Chair of the Association of Florida Colleges Trustees Commission. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Florida House in Washington, D.C., and has served on the organization’s Lakeland Council for more than two decades. She serves the Former Members of Congress Spouse Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C., Girls Inc. of Lakeland Board of Trustees, Polk Arts Alliance Advisory Council, and Habitat for Humanity Advisory Council. Ross has served as a Commissioner of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Additionally, she is a former Board and Board of Governors member of the Polk Museum of Art and former President of the Polk Arts Alliance.