The town of Oakland has hired a coordinator for its newest downtown facility, and she will be responsible for promotions and programming.
Ashlynn Webb has been at her job for more than two months now and has been helping staff prepare for the opening of the new Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center at the Town of Oakland. Her previous work with social media, coupled with a strong background in public relations, will be the key to successfully promoting the center and its activities.
The heritage center held a soft opening Friday, Jan. 29, and visitors could check out the open space, which includes old glass bottles dug up from the grounds of the town’s original 1900s Oakland Hotel, colorful paintings of town scenes, the original town plat, a huge church stained glass and historic town photos.
Webb’s official title is public arts and heritage coordinator, and she will be managing the center and its partners and donors. She will be creating and posting social media content, organizing all programming for the center, putting together history and art exhibits, and coordinating volunteers who will work there.
She will handle the grant-writing aspects of the arts and heritage center as well.
The position is a great match for her because it aligns with her passions, Webb said. Her father is a history buff, and her grandfather was as well, so the desire to learn about and share history runs in her family.
She said she also was drawn to the position because of her love of art.
“That’s what I do in my free time,” she said. “I’m a huge fan of Van Gogh, so anytime we went to a new city growing up, traveling, I would be like, ‘Do they have a Van Gogh?’ … It’s the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen in my life.” I’m a huge fan of art in general, and I do love to do it in my spare time. I love doing reverse painting, painting on the back of glass. I love watercolor.”
Oakland has been home to some talented artists through the years, and this will be an opportunity for their work to go on display for the public to enjoy. Webb is eager to coordinate this local art.
She said she is excited about the opportunity to work with Elisha Pappacoda, the town’s administrative services and communications director.
“I’ve known her before a little bit with the Florida Public Relations Association,” Webb said. “I heard people talk very fondly of her … and a couple of other people in the association who know her personally … I said, ‘I think this is for me.’ When I did the interviews, I fell more in love with it.”
Webb graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in public relations and has had the chance to put her degree to work. She has a background in theme parks, entertainment and hospitality.
“I love UCF; I learned so much there and through my connections there,” she said.
She spent three years as the public relations director at Universal Orlando and handled everything from attraction launches to annual events. She also managed the popular fall event, Halloween Horror Nights, for several years.
She also serves as a vice president of Image Awards with the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter. She and her team were recipients of a local and state awards for the 2019 HHN campaign at Universal.
Webb is hoping some of her experience will carry over into her position with Oakland.
“It was definitely a different industry … but I learned so much from my three years at Universal, and there are definitely things I want to bring over from there,” she said. “I hope to share my knowledge … and bring the town the attention it deserves and raise awareness of the center and get people excited to come here.”
The center currently is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays; hours will be extended in the future.
“I’m very excited to be here,” Webb said. “This town is adorable and has a very much Hallmark vibe.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.