Announcement of the Polk Emerging Leader Awards


Lauren Jensen
Andy Oguntola
Brian yates
Sara beth reynolds
Katie Worthington Decker

Polk Emerging Leaders Award 2021

Michelle Henné, MARYLAND, Lauren Jensen, Andy Oguntola, Ed.D., Brian yates and Sara Beth reynolds received the 2021 Polk Emerging Leader Awards from the Lakeland, Bartow and Winter Haven Chambers of Commerce on August 19 at the Bartow Civic Center.

The award recipients are recognized by the three groups of young professionals in Polk County, Emerge Lakeland, Endeavor Winter Haven and Engage Bartow, for their significant contributions and commitment to the community. Katie Worthington Decker also received the Polk Emerging Leaders Visionary Award for his work in launching these programs and giving young professionals in Polk County the opportunity to be recognized for their commitment to their communities.

• Michelle henné, Sports medicine statement: Henne is the founder, owner and medical director of Relevé Sports Medicine. In 2018, Relevé began offering free continuing education to athletic coaches through webinars. Over 2,000 athletic coaches attended the webinars. She is involved with the Polk County Medical Association, Central Florida Physician Alliance, Junior League of Winter Haven, Light Up the Night 5K, Leadership Winter Haven, Leadership Polk and is a member of the Cypress Gardens water ski team.

• Lauren Jensen, Sessums Law Group, practices family law. Jensen is Vice-Chair of the Explorations V Children’s Museum Board of Directors and was involved in the launch of its new brand, Florida Children’s Museum, and the construction of its new location in Bonnet Springs Park. She will be involved in membership initiatives for the new facility. Jensen also served as Community Vice President of the Junior League of Greater Lakeland and, during the pandemic, acted as a liaison between the Junior League and the Adopt a School initiative. Jensen volunteers with the United Way of Central Florida, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, the Lake Morton Community Church, Lighthouse Ministries, and the George Harris Youth Shelter.

• Andy Oguntola, Ed.D., Polk State College: Oguntola is the director of the JD Alexander Center at Polk Sate College, where he works to develop relationships with community leaders and educational institutions. In 2015, he established the Lake Wales College Fair, one of the state’s largest fairs with over 1,000 attendees and 40 participating colleges. Oguntola and a few friends have created a new Youth Football and Incentive League so that young people in Lake Wales have a positive outlet after school. Over 350 young men and women have registered to play this year. Oguntola is Chairman of the Lake Wales Chamber and Economic Development Council and Chairman of the Lake Wales Charter School System. In 2020 he served as Chairman of the Lake Wales Citizen and Police Community Relations Advisory Committee.

• Brian Yates, Citizens Bank & Trust: Yates was approached by Citizens Bank to lead the paycheck protection program division in 2020. The bank issued 1,115 loans totaling more than $ 118 million in Polk County. Yates is a Winter Haven municipal commissioner. He is also actively engaged with Main Street Winter Haven, the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, the Florence Villa CRA Advisory Team, the Ritz Theater and the Winter Haven Rotary Club. He graduated from Leadership Winter Haven Class 35 and was chosen to chair Class 38.

• Sara Beth Reynolds, Winter Haven Theater: Reynolds is the Director of Development for Theater Winter Haven, where she oversees grant applications, donor funding, and creates new and innovative programs. She has purchased over $ 1.2 million to help the theater meet the challenges of 2020 and 2021. She has also spoken at the Great American Teach In and has been mentored by Polk Vision and the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership. Reynolds raced for Polk County School Board and won at the age of 24.

Polk Vision selected 30 new members of the Leadership Polk Class XV during its opening retreat, which took place at Idlewood Venue in Bartow on September 2nd.

Leadership Polk Class XV

Polk Vision selected 30 new members of the Polk XV Leadership class at its opening retreat, held at Idlewood Venue in Bartow on September 2nd. Leadership Polk is made up of individuals who have demonstrated a high level of civic engagement in their local community. The 10-month program immerses participants in a program that examines critical issues impacting this region. Jen Lay, Leadership Polk Class XII graduate, owner of the real estate team, The Lay Group – Keller Williams Realty, will be the Class XV president. New members include: Alexandre Cam, vice-president, Cam’s Catering Company; Alexandre Landback, Associate General Counsel, Florida Polytechnic University; Amber Smith, communications, AdventHealth; Angie Pattison, Director of Partnerships, Big Brothers Big Sisters; Antionette Pollard, Owner / Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Pieces to Peace Counseling; Brian Marbutt, FVP / Commercial Loan Officer, Citizens Bank & Trust; Chad Barron, chief financial officer, Bartow Ford; Chris “CJ” Jaramillo, Director of Operations, Polk County Tax Collector; Chris Reeder, Deputy Director of Finance, City of Auburndale; Chris Velasquez, Chief of Police, Lake Wales; David Petit, owner, Crosswired Electrical Services; Dennis Childress, Director of Resource Management, Lake Wales Care Center; Elizabeth Tyler, Lake Wales Charter Schools-Dale R. Fair Babson Park Elementary; Eric Greenhow, financial advisor, Allen & Company; Ian Floyd, Major, Special Operations Division, Polk County Sheriff’s Office; John Helms, Executive Director, Bartow Airport Authority; Justin Laferrière, Senior Director of Visitor Services, Polk Board of County Commissioners; Karen Tiner, owner, financial advisor, Ameriprise Financial; Kathy Dobson, education and community outreach, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida; Kim Stenger, Director of Courts Division, Registrar and Comptroller of Polk County; Lance Schmidt, director, CliftonLarsonAllen; LaTrice Moore, Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator and Professor of Business Administration, Polk State College; Lauren Donaldson, lawyer, Peterson & Myers; Mark Bennett, Director of Development Services, City of Lake Wales; Marissa Green, Special Events and Recognition Analyst, Polk County Public Schools; Paul Needham, quality and population health, Lakeland Regional Health; Paul Womble, Director of Emergency Management, Council of County Commissioners; Sara Beth Reynolds, Winter Haven Theater & Polk County School Board; Steven Cochran, Senior Director of Polk County Public Schools; and Tom Lloyd, Vice President-Professional Banking Officer, Bank of Central Florida. For more information, visit

Philippe walker

Lakeland Walker Commissioner Elected President of Florida League of Cities

Lakes Commissioner Philippe walker was elected president of the Florida League of Cities, the united voice of Florida city governments, for the 2021-2022 term. He was elected by the FLC members and will serve a one-year term. Walker was first elected to the Lakeland City Commission in 2010 and, prior to that, was a police officer with the Lakeland Police Department. He sits on several commission committees, including legislative committees, utilities, the Lakeland area transit district, and the transportation planning organization. Walker also sits on the board of directors of the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust and the Ridge League of Cities and is the past chair of the Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. Walker serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Chapters Health System and Christ Community Christian Center Church, as well as the Board of Directors of McKeel Academy of Technology. Walker is also the founder and former board member of the Lakeland / Polk County chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 2015, Walker was inducted into the Kathleen High School Hall of Fame.

Luc Oslack

Luke Oslack joins Hamic Previte & Sturwold

Luc Oslack joined Hamic Previte & Sturwold in February as an accounting intern. Soon after, Oslack received his BA in Accounting from Southeastern University and became a full-time tax accountant. Oslack plans to pursue his Masters of Business Administration this year.

Send your contributions for this section to [email protected], with “People & Changes” in the subject line. Papers must be submitted by 9:00 a.m. Thursday to be considered for the coming week.


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