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PDS Advancement Team

Rachel Bishop
Director of Admission and Enrollment Management
Chris Oliver
Chief Advancement Officer
Winston Baccus
Director of Communication
Molly Beard
Assistant Director of Admission
Kim Bridgforth
Director of Annual Giving
Cynthia Cross
Special Events Coordinator
Kristen Griffith
Advancement Assistant
Laura Lee Jones
Promotion & Sales Coordinator
Anne-Davis Vander Have
Director of Marketing and Summer Programs

The Advancement Office

At the core, the work of a school boils down to students and teachers. The culmination of what we do as an organization is on display at graduation. That’s our product — a PDS graduate — and teachers are the ones in direct contact with the boys, shaping and molding them. 

But it takes a lot of support staff to help us get to that point at graduation from our custodial staff to our technology department.

The school’s advancement team helps augment the amazing work that teachers do in the classroom to help the school in its mission to “develop boys in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

To help you process some of the ways Advancement serves the school, let’s look at just some of the ways in which the work of the Advancement team intersects with a PDS family’s experience at PDS and even beyond. Along the way we’ll highlight some of the members of our team so that you know a little more about what they do.

Simplied, the purpose of Advancement is to ENGAGE the PDS community at various points in their life cycle, DISCERN their needs, interests, and passions, CONNECT them to the school in ways that align with those needs, interests, and passions, and COMMUNICATE with them in meaningful ways.

At PDS, we have boys during the most formative years of their lives. We don’t quite get the boys from cradle to graduation but our relationships with families and boys can start as young as the toddler years. Our Toddler Time Admission events are led in part by Molly Beard, our Assistant Director of Admission. Molly has been with PDS since 2013, she started out in our Early Childhood classrooms, and now she serves in the Admission office.

One way a family may be introduced to our school is via one of our social media channels. They may see a post that is talking about a great classroom experience, maybe it’s duck-hunt math or JK boys dissecting sheep hearts. That’s where Anne-Davis Vander Have comes in. Anne-Davis joined the school in 2019. She previously had a title with a bunch of commas in it: Advancement Officer, Alumni, Public Relations & Social Media Coordinator, indicative of the multiple roles she plays in Advancement tasks.

One of the first interactions prospective families have with PDS is through the website. After a toddler event or seeing a social media post or ad, they can visit our website to learn more. If you spend a few minutes looking through the website, you’ll gain a new appreciation for just how much information is on it beyond the home page and the news page. Most independent schools pay a company tens of thousands of dollars to design, develop and maintain their site, but since 2003, Winston Baccus, Director of Creative Services, has developed and maintained our website. Winston’s role is basically to oversee anything with a PDS shield on it, along with making sure that what we’re doing as a school gets communicated to our parents.

As a boy grows out of the toddler stage, it’s time for families to begin looking at schools. That’s when Rachel Bishop, our Director of Admission comes in. Rachel has been with PDS since 2015. You’ll Rachel giving tours, setting up testing, and hosting admission events. She loves introducing prospective parents to lots of teachers, so feel free to say hi when you see her in the hall or looking into your classroom.

While the work of admission in a family’s PDS years goes on through the re-enrollment process each year, once a family enrolls one of the first experiences they’ll have is probably the Buddy Party one of the many special events that is coordinated by the next member of our team, Cynthia Cross, Director of Special Events. Cynthia has been with PDS since 2008 after having been a PDS mom. She even did the yearbook before Casey Smith took it over.

Cynthia’s interactions and impact on PDS boys and families continues all the way to graduation and even beyond when our boys graduate from high school and they come back to a reception. Whether it’s Grandparents’ Day, Father/Son Dinner, or the Book Fair, Cynthia is coordinating and managing parent volunteers to make it happen.

Moving onward through a boy’s PDS years, families may begin to utilize another program that the Advancement team manages: our summer camp program. The Advancement department has always played a role in communicating about summer and with helping with online registration, but last year we took over the reigns of the program to redevelop and relaunch a full summer of camps, with offerings for all grades every week of the summer.

One of the more complicated processes our department keeps up with is all the data from our entire PDS family. If a family moves to a new house or even gets a new cell phone number or email address. If you’ve ever moved, you’ve probably dealt with organizations that don’t get this right. It’s a complicated process because we have multiple departments in the school that need that information and none of the databases talk to each other. There’s the admission database, the business office database, PowerSchool, the donor database. Kim Bridgforth, our Director of Annual Giving, works with Lyndsey to help us keep up-to-date records for all of our students — including not just their parents, but also their grandparents and the thousands of alumni records.

That’s not Kim’s main focus though, her main job is all about raising money to help supplement our budget. The Annual Fund helps us make up the difference between what it costs to run the school and the amount of tuition money that comes in each year. If a boy gets sick or hurt, the Annual Fund helps us pay to have a full-time nurse, pay for security guards, and much more.

Our offices’ fundraising efforts don’t stop there. While you hear much more publicly said about Annual Fund, Chris Oliver, our Chielf Advancement Officer is also working behind the scenes to help in all aspects of Advancement including raising money to support our other programs and projects. Over the last few years, we are averaging over $1 million dollars a year raised through the Annual Fund and other strategic projects.

As you can see from the word cloud below, this only scratches the surface of what the Advancement office does to help advance the mission of the school.