David M. Slover is senior vice president and chief strategy officer for HighGround Advisors, an investment and asset management company serving nonprofit organizations and charitably minded families. He has provided leadership to large nonprofits throughout his career serving as president of Buckner Foundation, executive vice president for Buckner International, senior director of development at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, director of major and planned gifts at Southern Methodist University and assistant vice president for Baylor Healthcare System Foundation.
Slover is a member of the board of Edify, the global children’s education organization, serving on the Governance and Nominating Committee. He has served on the Board of Directors for the National Committee on Planned Giving, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and on the philanthropic review council of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). He has also served on the boards for the Baylor Line Foundation and the Baylor Bear Foundation.
Slover earned academic honors while at Baylor. He also is recognized as a Certified Fund-Raising Executive and holds an Advanced Planned Giving certificate.
Slover has contributed to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Baylor Bear Foundation, the Louise Herrington School of Nursing’s Going for the Gold Gala and excellence funds for men’s and women’s basketball. He is a member of the 1845 Society, the Old Main Society, the Estate Planning Council and Friends of George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He was a volunteer with the Baylor Parents Network and served as president of the former Dallas Baylor Bear Club.
Slover is a member of Valley Ranch Baptist Church where he has served as a deacon, building finance chair, personnel committee chair, Sunday School teacher/coordinator/director, and chair of the search committee for the church’s associate pastor. He is also active with Dallas Christian Leadership Prayer Breakfast.
The Baylor experience was priceless for me and helped mold me into who I am today. It was at Baylor that I learned the value of academic excellence and the value of service to others. It is where I developed long-lasting and loyal relationships with lifelong friends, most importantly my wife, Carol. At Baylor I made my faith my own and began to embrace and pursue a meaningful relationship with Christ. Opportunities to serve, lead, learn, make new friends and grow in my faith were many. Among those were the annual revival under the large tent on Minglewood Bowl, serving as a member of the Chamber, participating in Steppin’ Out, Welcome Week and late-night study groups or basketball games.
Even my toughest days at Baylor – cleaning the bear pits as a Chamber pledge or trying to make a decent grade in Professor Reid’s Ancient Rome class – helped shape me into the person I am today.
Baylor gave me a compass and companions to pursue Christ’s calling on my life.
It is hard to choose just one but here are several that continue to help guide me.
I learned that the Lord is sufficient and that He is able to redeem my challenges in order to grow me. What I’ve deemed difficult in the moment has often later been recognized as a blessing and a key element in defining who I am. Previous failures have helped to underscore the truth that my identity is not in personal or professional accomplishments.
Early in my career, I considered success to be primarily determined by what others thought of my performance. I was largely task oriented and defined success by achieving metrics that focused on completion of tactical and micro level milestones. Through the years I’ve learned that success is being where God wants me to be, doing what he’s called me to do in the very best way that I’m able.
Success for me has evolved to emphasize the importance of elevating people over simply accomplishing a project. My measure of success today is defined as influencing or advancing something transcendent that impacts the lives of many for good. This is most easily observed when helping to lead a group of people or an organization to accomplish something of great meaning that produces lasting impact.
I embrace every facet of Baylor’s mission. It represents everything I experienced as a student. It is why my parents attended Baylor. It is why my wife and I are proud to be Baylor graduates. And, the same mission attracted our recently graduated daughter.
While culture and the world in which we live is quickly evolving, it is critical that Baylor continue to be a beacon of light that demonstrates excellence in academic and intellectual development while successfully integrating that excellence into a vibrant Christian community marked by care and commitment. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive and successful accomplishment will strategically position Baylor as a world-wide leader in academic excellence and Christian influence. A continued commitment to our unique mission, and the implementation of that mission in a shared governance environment, marked by academic freedom, will propel us forward. The anchors of truth embraced by Baylor in past years continue to be real and relevant today.
I believe Baylor is at her best when she is producing Christian leaders who pursue excellence, are well trained, are driven to serve, and are filled with a humble and caring spirit for all.
During my 30-year professional career I have exclusively worked in the non-profit sector for industry-leading organizations including Baylor Scott & White Healthcare System, Southern Methodist University, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Buckner International and HighGround Advisors. As executive level responsibilities were entrusted to me, I became responsible for governing boards and, as such, have developed a clear understanding of appropriate roles and boundaries for effective boards and ways board members can best partner with executive staff to advance the non-profit’s mission. Functioning in roles of SVP, EVP and President has provided opportunities to work with boards to (1) establish strategic direction and create strategic plans (2) develop the organization’s brand through brand studies (3) lead philanthropy and marketing efforts (4) oversee endowment and asset management and (5) oversee program and organizational development.
For a non-profit, tension is regularly found at the intersection of mission and excellence. Being achievement oriented, yet tending faithfully to mission sensitivities, largely defines my perspective.
The immense pressures faced by modern universities, including a shifting culture, real operating and revenue pressures, declining enrollments, and elevated tuition can tempt boards to focus on everything, rather than the essence. It is often a challenge to position a governing board to effectively, efficiently and openly address many different matters while still retaining real clarity on its essential function and core purpose.
Handling confidential matters with an appropriate mixture of confidentiality and transparency is an essential balance we must achieve, as is encouraging and benefiting from different perspectives while remaining in one accord with the mission and purpose.
In my opinion, a strong board member will listen and learn first before quickly speaking. They will be respectful of others yet have the confidence to speak truthfully and forthrightly. A strong board member will encourage and be available to executive staff. A strong board member should be expected to champion the cause and provide wise and seasoned counsel.
A highly functioning board should be marked by the freedom to exchange and debate diverse opinions. That freedom should then be followed by a commitment to unity after discussion and after decisions are made. A mature board should also recognize the role it plays to partner with executive staff to establish direction but to not involve itself in operational matters that extend beyond the appropriate purview of the board.
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