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Susan Copeland

Distinguished Alumna December 2019

Susan Copeland roamed the halls of the Polk State Science building as a child while her father, Professor Joel Sloan, graded papers and prepared for his Anatomy and Physiology labs. Her mother taught at Auburndale High School, so she knew from an early age that education was important.

Graduating from Auburndale High in 1984, she continued her education at Polk State and received her Associate in Arts degree in 1986. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Warner University in 1991 and a master’s in Business Administration from Southeastern University in 2008.

Copeland worked for five years in the classroom before joining the Polk Education Foundation (PEF) as the Program Coordinator for Grants. In 2005, she was named Executive Director. She has worked for Polk County Schools for 27 years.

During Copeland’s tenure, the PEF has ranked in the top 10 and top 25 education foundations nationwide. Copeland and the Polk Education Board created Stepping Out for Education, which celebrated its tenth year in 2019. This successful fundraising event brings local celebrities to the dance floor in support of scholarships. She also started the Free Teacher Market, where teachers can “shop” for free classroom items.

Through her work, Copeland has maintained a strong relationship with Polk State. The PEF’s scholarship programs award approximately $50,000 annually to high school students who continue their academic journeys at Polk State.

Additionally, during her 10 years of service to the Polk State College Alumni Association, Copeland served a term as president and took an active role in many initiatives. She has served on the boards of many community organizations, including the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors. She is a graduate of Leadership Winter Haven Class XXVIII and Leadership Polk Class IV, and is currently in
Leadership Florida’s Education Class V. Copeland has also lent her talents to the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations for which she received the Jim McKenzie Consortium Champion Award in 2019.

Susan and her husband, Todd, reside in Auburndale.