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Polk Arts Alliance Hires Daryl Ward As Executive Director

POLK COUNTY, FL, Feb. 14, 2022 — Polk Arts Alliance (PAA), the designated Local Arts Agency for Polk County since 2004, is pleased to announce that Daryl Ward has accepted the position of Executive Director.

Ward, a Polk County resident for over 40 years, assumes the position following the retirement of Meri Mass, the long-time leader of PAA. Ward comes to the organization with a long list of prior accomplishments in the cultural arts and public education arenas and PAA is excited about the future of the arts in Polk under his leadership and direction.

Ward holds multiple degrees, including a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from USF and his most recent professional experiences include teaching as an adjunct professor of education at Florida Southern College as well serving as principal at Harrison School for the Arts from 2013-2019.

Ward has also worked with other organizations that serve both Polk and Florida’s artistic communities, including the Lakeland Mayor’s Council for the Arts, PAA’s Business Committee for the Arts, as a presenter at PAA’s Sm(ART) Business Symposium, as well as service on the boards of Florida Dance Theatre, Arts4All Florida, the Florida Alliance for Arts Education, and Lakeland Community Theatre.

Additionally, Ward wrote an original mini-musical honoring the philanthropic legacy of Publix founder, George Jenkins. The musical, entitled “When You Dream,” has been performed at multiple community events around Polk County. “I have always appreciated the value that healthy, sustainable arts and cultural entities have for communities,” said Ward.

PAA Board President, Amy Wiggins, said, “Daryl brings so much talent and expertise to our organization as an educator, strategic business leader, and as an artist himself. We are thrilled that he has accepted this role and are looking forward to tapping into his creativity to advance arts and culture countywide.”

Meri Mass, who successfully served the organization and Polk’s arts and culture community for more than 12 years retired on January 31, creating a leadership vacancy. Ward will be charged with setting the course for PAA and Polk’s cultural arts as they emerge from a pandemic that has offered both extreme challenges as well as opportunities to innovate. According to Ward, “I’m especially grateful for the legacy that Meri created for the Polk Arts Alliance and I believe the organization is poised for great growth in the coming years. I look forward to being a part of that journey.”

To Contact Ward, email:

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