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T. Michael Stavres

Distinguished Alumnus 2020

T. Michael Stavres, a graduate of Winter Haven High School, earned his Polk State Associate in Arts degree in 1990. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Leisure Services and Studies in 1992 and his Master of Science in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration in 1997 from Florida State University. He is a Certified Public Manager (CPM) and Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP).

Stavres was hired as the Director of Leisure Services for the City of Winter Haven in 2001. He was promoted to Director of Community service in 2006 and appointed Assistant City Manager in 2016, with short stints as acting city manager in 2016 and 2017. As Assistant City Manager, he oversaw the construction of the new AdventHealth Fieldhouse and Southwest Complex renovations. These opened in 2020, and shortly after completion, he was recognized as Project Leader of the Year by Winter Haven City Manager Mike Herr.

Stavres has been on the Polk State College Alumni Association Board for many years, including serving as its President and representing the association as a member of the Polk State College Foundation Board. His interest in the community has also led to service and leadership roles with the boards of Girls Inc. of Winter Haven and the Florida Recreation Park Association. He was a founding member of the Cypress Junction Montessori Charter School Board of Directors, and he is currently a Trustee for All Saints Academy. He is a graduate of Leadership Winter Haven and Leadership Polk.

Stavres was named Leadership Winter Haven’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year (2016), and has earned a Florida Recreation Park Association Achievement Award (2013), as well as the Florida City and County Managers Association’s “If You Care, You Do” Award (2015) and Excellence in Leadership Award (2020). In 2020, he was recognized as Board Member Emeritus by the Public Education Partnership of Winter Haven.

In addition to formal service, Stavres and friend Duke Burr perform locally as the Coastal Acoustic Barefoot Music group, collecting donations to fund music education projects and other causes. To date, they have raised more than $45,000 for regional non-profits.

Through their 2019 “Strike A Chord For Change” initiative, the duo helped fund the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team’s adaptive skiing program. With the purchase of special equipment, the team can further their efforts to introduce persons with physical barriers to an otherwise inaccessible recreational activity.