A Few Minutes With Emily Sollenberger Dobbins, Development Officer for BOPA

1. Talk a little bit about what you do as the Development Officer for BOPA.

As the Development Officer, I manage government and foundation funders, with the assistance of the new grant writer for BOPA. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been grant writing as well, so my duties have covered making sure all the proposals go out and reports are being done, along with researching new opportunities. I was also hired to start a major gifts plan for BOPA, where there is a huge capacity for us to reach a different group of people and grow our funding. 

2. Where were you before BOPA and what led you here? 

Before BOPA, I was with Baltimore Clayworks for about three years as their Development Director and before that I was with Maryland Art Place for about four years. During those four years, I started as an intern right out of grad school and worked my way up to Development Director there. The arts have always been important to me, and most of my career path has always been to stay in the arts if I can. My undergrad is a double major in  general art and business, and then I went to grad school for arts administration, which specialized in nonprofit arts.

3. How did you first hear about BOPA and what was your first impression?

I first learned of BOPA at Maryland Art Place. I applied and received the Creative Baltimore Fund multiple times before joining the BOPA team so I looked at BOPA through a funder lens. I knew we produced Artscape and eventually Light City, but I really didn’t know all of the ins and outs of our programming. My first impression of BOPA was that it’s an integral part of the creative community in Baltimore and many places rely on funding from us. 

4. Why is it important for you to support BOPA and its mission? 

We’re at the center of anything arts-related or creative in Baltimore. If you take away our programs, there would be a huge hole remaining in the arts community. We are supporting artists, organizations, partners, and more. There is nothing like BOPA that provides opportunities for the entire city to come together.  

5. What kind of people/foundations are ideal funders for BOPA?

The best type of funder is someone that is passionate about the arts. Right now, we are looking for individuals at a major gifts capacity. Oftentimes, someone will have a connection to BOPA or will share their connection to the arts, and this allows the opportunity to invest in our mission and hopefully be a continual supporter in the long run. The same goes with foundation supporters; we are looking for BOPA programs that will align with our funder’s funding priorities. Overall we want our funders to be dedicated to our mission, while making an impact!

6. Who is your biggest mentor/someone who has influenced you throughout your career?

I had a really good professor in grad school. Her name was Rachel Shane, an arts administrator professor at SCAD (Savannah College of Arts & Design). She was the first person that I took a class with there. She was a great person to rebound ideas and had a good understanding of arts administration as a whole in the country. I still follow her and what she’s doing.  Additionally, I really have had great people around me at every place I’ve worked and have learned from – including BOPA! I feel very fortunate in my career so far.

7. What do you do in your free time that helps you relax? 

Walking to and from work helps me relax before and after work to clear my mind. I also knit and have a few projects that I work on at a time. Some are more mindless, while others are challenging. My husband, Ryan, and I also really love traveling, eating good food and drink, and generally exploring new places – which is really fun (and relaxing at times.)