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Cindy Hartley Ross

Distinguished Alumna December 2017

Cindy Hartley Ross is a Lakeland native and a graduate of Lakeland High School. She received her Polk State Associate in Arts degree in 1979 and studied Special Education at Troy State University.

Community service has been ubiquitous in Ross’s life since serving as a hospital volunteer in middle school. In college, she was active in her Alpha Delta Pi sorority. While her children were young, she volunteered in a number of leadership roles in the Polk County School District. For her efforts, she was named Volunteer of the Year at two different schools, and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Making Kids Count Award.

Ross was appointed to serve on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women in 2010. She currently serves on its Executive Committee and Foundation Board. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Florida House in Washington, DC. The only state embassy in the capital, the Florida House showcases Florida’s culture and attributes, bringing national attention to the state’s assets. Ross also acts as Program Chairperson for the Republican Congressional Spouses in Washington, DC and is a member of The Congressional Club, a bipartisan spouse’s group.

Locally, Ross is a member of the Polk Arts Alliance (PAA) Resource Council, having served the organization as president twice. She also is a member of the Board of Governors for the Polk Museum of Art. Formerly, she has served on the Advisory Board of Habitat for Humanity; the Lakeland Board of Directors for Girls, Inc.; and the Junior League of Greater Lakeland.

In 2015, Ross was reappointed by Governor Scott to serve on the Polk State District Board of Trustees, having previously served for 12 consecutive years (1999-2011). During this time, she held the positions of Vice Chair and Chair. Additionally, she has served on the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors, was President of the Polk State Alumni Association, and represented Polk State at the state and national level in trustee-related organizations.

Ross’s involvement with the Polk State College Foundation began in 1999 while she was a member of the Republican Women’s Club. She saw the benefit of student scholarships and encouraged the group to endow a scholarship for Polk’s students. She has since been instrumental in the creation of additional scholarships, including memorial scholarships to honor two George Jenkins High School students, and two more scholarships in her family’s name.

Cindy Ross has been married to Dennis since 1983. Their two adult children are both Polk State graduates: Shane graduated in 2012 and Travis in 2014. Additionally, more than fifteen members of Ross’s extended family have graduated from Polk State.

In December 2017, Governor Rick Scott appointed Ross to another term as trustee. Her term will end May 31, 2021. Ross is the longest-serving trustee in the College’s history.