Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a five-part series on the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Polk Emerging Leaders.
District 4 School Board member Sara Beth Reynolds was recently named a 2021 Polk Emerging Leader by the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce.
One of five recipients, Reynolds said she is honored to be chosen by her peers. Education is her passion and at the young age of 24 ran and won the school board slot.
“It’s good to make a difference in the community,” she said. “I went to Polk schools, then worked for a non-profit in schools and realized there was a lot of red tape. I complained to my family and decided to try and do something about it so I ran (for school board).”
The Winter Haven High School graduate feels her attendance in Polk schools helps her have a better understanding of what is going on locally with the schools.
“I want to be sure what the students need is easily accessible,” she said. “There are days I get lots of calls. I go and sit in schools. There are so many great things going on.”
Reynolds is a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and is pursuing her master’s degree in public administration and non-profit management from the University of Central Florida.
She is currently the development director for Theatre Winter Haven where she oversees grant applications, donor funding and creates new programs. She was able to procure more than $1.2 million in funds to help the theatre through the challenges of 2020 and 2021. The money helped to continue the internship program, DramaTime LIVE! Reading program, summer Master Classes and the Performing Arts Academy scholarship programs.
Winter Haven Chamber President Katie Worthington Decker said Reynolds was definitely deserving of the award.
"Sara Beth has proven that you can be a leader in this community at any age. She is unwaveringly dedicated to the betterment of Winter Haven, Polk County Public Schools and accessibility to the arts through her work at Theatre Winter Haven," Decker said.
Reynolds is involved in many organizations. She serves as the board liaison for Polk Vision’s Operating Board, the Florida School Board Association’s board of directors, the Florida School Board Association’s Advocacy Committee and the Polk Academies Advisory Board. She graduated from Leadership Winter Haven’s Class 38 and Leadership Florida’s Education Class IV. She volunteers for Junior Achievement and serves on the board. She is also involved in Winter Haven’s Public Education Partnership.
“The difference you want to see starts with you,” she emphasized. “If you are not trying to make it better, then who else is? There is more of a need to get involved. It takes everyone especially the younger generation. There are so many opportunities out there. Find something you enjoy and give back.”