When Jeff Snow was an undergraduate at Valdosta State College, he came across a magazine article that described how a college student-athlete had started a non-profit organization devoted to helping kids. After finishing the article, Jeff began entertaining the idea of launching something similar through Valdosta State. But how? “I didn’t know anybody and, as far as I was concerned, I was the last person who should be starting something like that,” he says.
Six months later, the idea still weighed on him, so Jeff decided to give it a try. He created Valdosta State College (VSC) for Kids, a non-profit organization that worked with the Salvation Army to identify kids who would likely receive nothing for Christmas. “We raised money throughout the year to buy the toys and worked with toy stores that gave us special discounts. Then, on Christmas Eve, we would load up a van with volunteers dressed as Santa and the elves and deliver toys to kids all night,” he remembers fondly.
VSC for Kids was Jeff’s first exposure to what has become a lifelong calling—connecting the passions and interests of potential donors with tangible needs. It is a calling that eventually led him to become the Director of College Advancement for UK’s College of Engineering.
After graduating with a bachelor in fine arts degree in speech communications and public relations from VSC, Jeff enrolled in a graduate program specializing in higher education administration with an emphasis in institutional advancement offered by Vanderbilt University. “I’m one of the few people you will ever meet who knew early on that this was my chosen career,” he laughs.
While at Vanderbilt, Jeff began working in their call center and alumni reunion office. He returned to Valdosta State College to take a position as director of annual giving and later came to UK as a director of major gifts in central development. For the last eight years, Jeff worked as the director of development for the College of Engineering at the University of Central Florida, as well as in the central foundation office for the whole university as the assistant vice-president of development. In 2011, he and his family returned to Lexington with Jeff assuming his new role and his wife, Mia, taking a position in the Office of Institutional Planning, Research and Effectiveness.
“Our philosophy for development is donor-centered,” he says. “It is a very personal process which strives to serve the interest of donors while securing the necessary support for the college to help achieve its mission of providing a high quality engineering education. Talking to alumni who have such fond memories of their time here at UK and who understand the value of an engineering education is a real joy. Sometimes I am amazed that I get to do this!”