Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti was named Polk State College’s fifth president in May 2017.
From the collective input of the Polk State and Polk County communities, Dr. Falconetti developed a vision to strengthen student success and has worked to expand partnerships with local employers, organize new learning opportunities, and increase connections between the College and non-profit groups that provide support services for students. Additionally, she has been instrumental in securing $4.9 million in recurring funding and preserving the Lake Wales Campus with the support of the local delegation and community.
A native Floridian with over two decades of service in three states and the District of Columbia, Dr. Falconetti holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Education from New York University, and a master’s degree and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida with Instructional Leadership, Postsecondary Education, and Adult Learning specializations. Dr. Falconetti completed an endowed post-doctoral fellowship in Community College Leadership with The University of Texas at Austin while working as a research associate for the Community College Survey of Student Engagement. In 2016, she became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Dr. Falconetti has published over 25 scholarly papers and book chapters and served as editor for two higher education journals.
At the national level, Dr. Falconetti served as Special Assistant to the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in Washington, D.C. Prior to being named President of Polk State College, she served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Virginia Western Community College, and as Executive Director of the Foundation.
In March 2020, U.S. Congressman Darren Soto recognized Dr. Falconetti for Women’s History Month by reading her biography into the congressional record and entering it into the U.S. Library of Congress. She received her first awards as President from the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society nominated by the students — the Paragon Award and the Florida Regional Distinguished Service Award. Most recently, Dr. Falconetti received the 2020 ATHENA Leadership Award from the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and Junior League of Greater Lakeland. Additional recognitions include the National Orientation Directors Association’s 2007 National Research Award, the University of North Florida’s 2007 Outstanding Dissertation, and 2003 Academic Advisor awards.
Dr. Falconetti is an active leader in national and statewide organizations, serving the American Association of Community College’s Commission on Institutional Infrastructure and Transformation, Excelencia in Education and Excelencia in Action Network’s Presidents for Latino Student Success, the Florida College System Council of Presidents as Vice-Chair and its Policy and Advocacy Committee as Chair, the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, the Florida Chamber Foundation Board, the Florida Department of Transportation’s Multi-Use Corridor of Regional Economic Significance Task Force and Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force, and Governor DeSantis’ Transition Education and Workforce Advisory Committee.
Locally, she serves on several boards of organizations representing all areas of Polk County. Currently, Dr. Falconetti serves as Chair of the Central Florida Development Council, Vice-Chair of Polk Vision, Vice-Chair Elect of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Secretary of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council. She also serves CareerSource Polk, Club Hispano de Lakeland, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, the Lakeland Economic Development Council High-Skill High-Wage Initiative, the Reopen Lakeland Taskforce, United Way of Central Florida, The Vanguard School Foundation, and Winter Haven Hospital.
Dr. Falconetti has a personal commitment to the Florida College System and its students. Her parents, both Cuban exiles, completed their degrees at Florida colleges. As is the case for so many families, the Florida College System provided them the opportunity to work toward better job options and improved quality of life. Dr. Falconetti is dedicated to ensuring all students have the chance to receive a quality education and is committed to advancing the mission of Polk State College.