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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 10 months ago

Winter Park Public Library pursues new executive director

The library has brought in interim director Cynthia Wood while the organization plans to find a permanent leader.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

The Winter Park Public Library has entered a new chapter — and there’s still more to come.

Winter Park’s library went through a change in leadership earlier this month as Cynthia Wood took the role as interim director, working alongside assistant director Sabrina Bernat to keep the facility moving forward toward the future.

“I’m very humbled; I’m excited about it,” Wood said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. The timing is just very interesting. I’m thrilled for the opportunity. The library is an amazing place already. We have an incredible staff and a very dedicated staff, and the services that are already being provided — the public isn’t aware of a lot of them — are very comprehensive, and they’re far beyond just checking out books. As we move forward, they’re going to become even more relevant to today’s society.”

Wood replaces outgoing executive director Shawn Shaffer while the library determines what it’s looking for in a new executive director. A search committee will look for the right individual once the library determines the direction it wants to take.

“A director of this library has to have the knowledge of the library, but at the same time, there are a lot of executive skills that are needed,” Woods said. “You have a board that’s a separate 501(c)(3), so the director needs to have a clear understanding of what it’s like to work with a nonprofit organization.”

Wood brings many years of experience in this area as an interim director, working for many years as a strategic philanthropy consultant. She has worked with Bach Festival Society of Winter Park Florida Inc.; Mead Botanical Garden; Maitland Art and History Association, Inc.; and Winter Park Memorial Hospital. Wood was also vice president for institutional advancement at Rollins College from 1990 to 2009.

Wood said her role at the library is building on the existing strengths while also addressing areas that can be improved. This will all be an effort to set the future executive director up for success, she said.

“There are some areas that have been constraints in possibly moving some of the fundraising forward and some of the communications and public relations forward,” Wood said. “My role is to facilitate and look at some of the constraints to see where we can address them so we can move forward.

“In no way am I coming to a broken organization,” she said. “I’m just building on strengths, but there are some areas that need some attention.”

Shaffer had held the position at the library for the last five years, and the library is thankful for everything she has done during her time there.

“(Shawn) leaves the library stronger and better than we were when she arrived,” library spokesperson Dori Madison said in a statement. “The board is extremely grateful to Shawn for her leadership these past five years beginning with a task force, through a bond referendum, the selection of our world-renowned architect and to the refinement of our new library’s plans.”

The library also brought in director of development and campaign Kim Hall, who will take charge of the library’s campaign and annual fund initiatives. She brings a breadth of experience from the University of Tampa, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida and has worked with nonprofits for more than 25 years.

There is much to look forward to at the library, Wood said. With a new building on the way and plans to expand the programs, the library will be able to serve local residents like never before.

“The thing that I like about the library is that there’s relevancy for every generation,” Wood said. “That’s going to increase as we move forward.”

Madison said the library plans to have a new executive director in place by sometime next year.

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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