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 more than $77 million from the legislature and preserving the Lake Wales Campus with the support of the Polk County Legislative Delegation, District Board of Trustees, and community. In 2021, Polk State College celebrated its decennial reaffirmation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges with no findings, placing the College in an approximated 5 percent of higher education institutions in the southern region.
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 served as adjunct faculty for four higher education institutions, has published more than 25 scholarly papers and book chapters, and has 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 as a Distinguished Leader in Central Florida 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, including the Education Commission of the States, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group, and Florida College System Council of Presidents as Immediate Past Chair and Chair-Elect of the Florida Risk Management Consortium Operations Committee and Board. She is also a member of Excelencia in Education and Excelencia in Action Network’s Presidents for Latino Student Success, the Florida Chamber Foundation Board, and the Community College Journal of Research and Practice as a member of the Editorial Board. She has also served the Florida College System Council of Presidents as 2020-2021 Vice-Chair and Chair of Policy and Advocacy; the Association of Florida Colleges Board of Directors, Steering Committee, and Workforce Development Taskforce; the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities; Governor DeSantis’ Transition Education and Workforce Advisory Committee; the American Association of Community College’s Commission on Institutional Infrastructure and Transformation; and the Florida Department of Transportation’s Multi-Use Corridor of Regional Economic Significance Task Force and Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force.
Locally, she serves on numerous boards of organizations representing all areas of Polk County. Currently, Dr. Falconetti serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Central Florida Development Council, Chair-Elect of Polk Vision, Vice-Chair Elect of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council’s Executive Board of Directors. She also serves as a member of the CareerSource Polk Board of Directors and its Workforce Committee, Club Hispano de Lakeland, the Lakeland Economic Development Council High-Skill High-Wage Initiative, and Winter Haven Hospital Board of Directors and Clinical Excellence Committee. Dr. Falconetti completed service as a board member of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, the Reopen Lakeland Taskforce, United Way of Central Florida, The Vanguard School Foundation, and the Polk County Heart Walk Executive Team, which she served as Chair.
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.