It is with great pleasure that the Downtown Lakeland Partnership Board of Directors announces the hiring of Lori Long as the new executive director.

The board confirmed the decision on July 5 and Long started work July 6.

Long spent more than 20 years with Polk County Schools as a first grade teacher. She served as an academic intervention facilitator for Oscar J. Pope Elementary School and was selected as Teacher of the Year while there. For the last three and a half years Long served as the director of Small Wonders Child Development Center and Goal Seekers PreK. While under her leadership, Small Wonders saw tremendous growth and was selected by The Ledger as the Best of the Best Day Care in Polk County.

She brings to the Downtown Lakeland Partnership extensive knowledge in small business management. She has served on the board of directors for Children’s Home Society, and sits on the steering committee for Emerge Lakeland as their volunteer chair. For the past three years, Long has served with Central Florida Speech & Hearing planning events and fundraising for their work at the center. She has a deep passion for veterans and those who serve our country. She is the daughter of an Army officer who attended West Point. Her family has lived all over the United States, but Lakeland has always been her hometown and her home base. Long has an 8-year-old daughter who cheers with Central Florida Athletics in Lakeland.

Long has a love and loyalty for Lakeland, our downtown area and is excited to be a part of a strong team of leaders. Her love for downtown started when she would visit with her grandmother Ruby Brooks Chandler who ran Brooks Chandler Realty on Bay Street, where Bay Street Bistro is located. Chandler blazed the trail that Long is following.  She held numerous positions in the Downtown Lakeland Partnership, including president. She was active in the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and still frequents several downtown businesses. Long envisions Lakeland as the jewel of Central Florida.

Please join us in welcoming her aboard.