On the surface, it is natural to assume that the role of an advancement officer is to raise money. It is true that fundraising is central to the position, but at its core, it is really about connecting and building relationships.
“People give to people,” Frontier Nursing University Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) Bobbi Silver said. “Yes, we need to provide important funding to our institutions, but it’s also important that we have meaningful connections with people to facilitate support for the institution in ways that they are passionate about. We want to treat people with respect and kindness and connect them to the university.”
Silver, who began her role as Frontier’s Chief Advancement Officer on March 28, 2022, brings nearly 20 years of experience in fundraising and marketing. Most recently, she served as the Director of Development at the Diocese of Lexington. Prior to that, she was the Vice President of Philanthropy at the YMCA of Central Kentucky and worked in fundraising roles at the University of Kentucky. Read Our Q&A with Bobbi
In each of those roles, she saw the value of connecting people to causes that were important to them. At Frontier, she found a cause that is important to her.
“I love Frontier’s mission and how it started in Eastern Kentucky, focusing on this unmet need to help people and families in rural areas,” Silver said. “Our purpose is to change the landscape and healthcare of rural and marginalized communities. I was also drawn to our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Not all places follow through with their spoken intentions. At Frontier, we hold our feet to the fire. We are what we say we are, and that’s important to me.”
Commitment to service and purpose comes naturally to Silver, whose father served in the U.S. Army. He was on active duty during her childhood, which meant the family was frequently on the move. They lived in Belgium, Alaska, Colorado, and Virginia before moving back to Maryland, where her parents were originally from. After finishing high school, Silver graduated from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She found a job in Savannah, Georgia, where she met her husband, Matthew, who was stationed there as an Army Ranger. The couple made their way back to Kentucky, where Matthew’s parents lived.
Silver began working in a nonprofit setting early on in her career. Her first jobs out of college had been sales-related, but a position with a non-profit organization helped her find her true calling.
“I always had this yearning to do good for others,” said Silver. “When we moved to Kentucky, I looked for fundraising-related positions. My first job when we moved to Kentucky was fundraising and corporate support for WEKU (a non-profit radio station at Eastern Kentucky University). From there, I moved into other roles where I worked with some great people and got to learn about the fundraising world.”
“Stay connected. Stay connected to your faculty. Become a preceptor. Give back with a scholarship. Lift someone else up. Look for alumni in your region you could connect with. Giving is important, but it’s not just about money.”
– Bobbi Silver, FNU Chief Advancement Officer
Silver’s impressive record of success in development, alumni relations, external affairs, grants management, and marketing made her a strong candidate for Frontier’s CAO position. But it was her immediate connection to Frontier’s mission and culture that made her a natural fit.
“We are so excited to welcome her and her family to the Frontier community,” FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM, said. “We know she will help us continue to grow and successfully fulfill our mission.”
To do that, Silver wants to know why the members of the FNU community are passionate about Frontier. She wants to know their stories and how they got where they are.
“Fundraising is caring about people, which fits perfectly with our Culture of Caring,” she said. “It’s meeting people and hearing about their journeys. Where were the stumbling blocks? What connections to the university helped them through those? That’s my favorite part about fundraising.”
Silver said that she wants to focus on building lifelong connections with students to keep them better engaged with the university throughout their careers and beyond.
“If I could say anything to the students, I would say philanthropy involves giving, but it’s not just that. Philanthropy is about giving of ourselves and includes volunteering and giving back, lifting someone else up,” Silver said. “I recently watched a video in which Kitty Ernst said, ‘Don’t ever leave.’ I think that’s the perfect phrase. Stay connected. Stay connected to your faculty. Become a preceptor. Give back with a scholarship. Lift someone else up. Look for alumni in your region you could connect with. Giving is important, but it’s not just about money.”
Silver intends to build deeper connections with alumni and hopes that many will come to visit the new Versailles campus.
“We want to connect with our alumni in a more intentional way,” she said. “We want to get them on campus so they can see it and celebrate it. There’s a lot for our alumni and friends to be proud of. It’s a great time to get engaged. It’s an open invitation to call me and come visit.”
Silver is quite active away from her work at the university. The Silvers have two children, Calvin, who is in college, and Eden, who is in high school and active in sports. Silver also enjoys hiking with Matthew and their dog and dreams of one day taking a trip to Scotland.
“Family connection is a number one priority for me,” Silver said. “I recognize how precious time is right now because my kids are growing up. Once they reach this teenage and low 20 age, time just tumbles over itself so much faster. I try to be more focused on living in the moment.”
Silver has already found a home at Frontier. In just her first few months at the university, she feels connected to the university, its mission, and its people.
“I have found that this place has been incredibly welcoming, warm, and very encouraging to put yourself out there, learn, and take risks. That’s who we are,” she said. “I’m excited to be with this incredible faculty and wonderful staff. Everyone is happy to be here and to help in any way. That sense of service speaks to my heart. I want our department to be of service to others. Our goal is to support the university in all the ways we can, and I think we have a really great team that can do that.”
Get to Know Bobbi Silver
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read (especially any Agatha Christie-inspired mysteries), hike, be outside, going to the theater to see plays, watch my youngest son participate in high school track, and visit my oldest son at college. I love NFL football, especially my Baltimore Ravens. (I was born in Baltimore.)
What attracted you to your role at FNU?
I am a first-generation college graduate and am particularly interested in helping students from rural or marginalized communities with their education. FNU’s history and commitment to these same communities drew my attention to this position. The faculty, staff and students here are an incredibly caring community and I am truly grateful to serve in this role.
Do you have any fun facts you’d like to share?
-I grew up an Army Brat and moved around quite a bit. Through high school, I lived in two countries, four states, and went to nine different schools. I’m not afraid of change!
-I love a good road trip.
-I prefer to listen to audiobooks rather than music.
-I love to bake.
What are you most excited about in this new position?
Frontier is in a great place in its evolution. I am excited to start in this role at this point in time to engage with our alumni, celebrate our new campus, and work with the community. I have a great team who are dedicated to Frontier, which makes my job so much easier. I truly appreciate the joyful spirit I have encountered at Frontier and how diligent everyone is in working together to transform health communities.
Do you have a favorite quote, and why?
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” -Amelia Earhart; I love this quote because it’s a great reminder to be brave, to experience the world, and to see joy. I am an overthinker and while that certainly has its place, I sometimes need a reminder to make the daring decision and be bold.
Do you have any TV shows to recommend or that you enjoy?
Lately, I’ve been watching the entire series of Ina Garten’s Back to Basics on Discovery+. Her voice is so soothing and I’m picking up some great cooking tips.