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Lake Wales History Museum Announces Executive Director Departure

LAKE WALES, Florida. The Lake Wales History Museum’s Board of Directors announces Jennifer D’hollander’s departure as Executive Director.

It is with bittersweet emotions we announce that Jennifer D’hollander, Executive Director of the Lake Wales History Museum will be leaving the organization on March 5, 2022.

From the board of directors, “We will miss her inspiring leadership and wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor leading business, non-profit, and government agency solutions in the private sector in Winter Haven.  Since January of 2018, Jennifer has played a critical role in the redevelopment and success of the museum.  We want to thank Jennifer for her transformational leadership which resulted in many significant accomplishments.”

During her four-year tenure, Jennifer has led the new strategic vision for the museum’s revitalization, stabilizing the museum’s financial position, expanding programming and changing exhibits, building staff capacity, community partnerships, and setting the course for the museum to become a leader in Lake Wales’ historic preservation efforts.

In these four years, the museum has been awarded over $350,000 in grants, contributions, and individual gifts to further the preservation of Lake Wales’s historic corridor and museum operations.  Most recently, the museum was ranked #2 across the state for museum grants through the Division of Arts and Culture.  Jennifer spearheaded the creation of a new strategic plan for the museum in 2018 that refocused the museum on the visitor- and history-centric programming, branding, and name change to the Lake Wales History Museum, which more than doubled museum attendance in two years.

She transitioned the museum to a non-profit organizational structure within a new, secure City of Lake Wales-Museum partnership.  In January of 2021, the museum opened the newly restored 1916 Seaboard Airline Freight Station as the Mimi Hardman Collections and Research Center, a project that took more than two years to create, plan, fundraise and restore during the height of the pandemic. This newly restored building now houses the museum’s 25,000-item collection permanently, is open for public research and is dedicated to the museum’s late founder, Mimi Hardman.

The growth and success of the Lake Wales History Museum’s revitalization have been a true testament to Jennifer’s exceptional leadership.  And, while this transition is bittersweet for the museum, change is constant.  The museum has appointed an interim Executive Director, Anderson Hanna, who has been working as the museum’s Curator of Collections and Exhibits since November of 2021.  The board of directors is very grateful to Anderson for his commitment to the Lake Wales History Museum to ensure a successful transition.

Anderson Hanna is a passionate 11-year Florida museum professional. He has worked at and managed historic collections at the Veteran’s Memorial Center and Museum in Merritt Island, Florida, and was most recently the museum manager at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in Valparaiso, Florida. Anderson was also an adjunct professor of history at Eastern Florida State College in Palm Bay, Florida.

In addition, the museum recently added a new position of Curator of Public Programs and hired Julya Lizarralde, who began work on January 4, 2022.  Julya has been working and studying art and history in museum settings for the past few years as she completed her Bachelors of Art History at Stetson University in Deland, Florida, and Masters of Art History at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. She has worked at and conducted educational programs and tours at multiple museums, created blogs and social media pages to share history with the public. She is very excited to bring her love of history and knowledge of art to the community of Lake Wales.

The board of directors of the Lake Wales History Museum is committed to the continued success of the museum and stands ready to lead this dynamic growing organization.  The board has formed a search committee to ensure transparency, the continuity of professional museum leadership, and the museum’s positive impact in the community endures.  The board will share more information about the search as the process continues.  Again, the board wishes Jennifer the very best of luck in her future professional endeavors and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with her.

From Jennifer D’hollander, Executive Director of the Lake Wales History Museum:

It has been my sincere pleasure and privilege to lead the museum these past four years with the City of Lake Wales and the Museum’s Board of Directors.  I cannot thank our leadership, the community, our partners, the visitors, and my friends in Lake Wales enough for their support and guidance.  Without you, we could not have achieved so many transformational projects and activities that made such a positive impact on the historic preservation, awareness, and love of all things past and present about Lake Wales.  There is still much work to do to bring historic preservation and our community’s diverse stories forward.  I will watch in anticipation as the museum carries on into the future, and look forward to seeing history is happening!

With much gratitude, Jennifer D’hollander

About the Lake Wales History Museum

The Lake Wales History Museum preserves an estimated 25,000 items within its historic collection, offers self-guided tours of local history through permanent and changing interpretive displays, educational programming, special events, and school programs throughout the year.  The museum is open Wednesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Adults: $5/person. Under 18 & Members: Free.  Parking is free and the first floor is accessible for persons with disabilities, wheelchairs, and strollers.  For more information, contact the Lake Wales History Museum, 325 S Scenic Highway, Lake Wales, Florida 33853; 863-676-1759 or visit www.lakewaleshistory.org.

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