Carla Bryant Farmer


Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communication at Cottey College

Carla Bryant Farmer remembers fondly her first day at Cottey College. A student Golden Key representative gave her a campus tour. Farmer asked the young woman what she felt was the best part of her Cottey experience. The young woman replied that at Cottey College, she had found her voice. She said that when in high school, she didn’t think her opinion mattered. At Cottey, she knew that it did. Since Farmer’s first day in 2009, she has seen countless Cottey students blossom into confident leaders.

Farmer feels that “Cottey College is too good of an opportunity to keep secret.”

Cottey’s unique opportunities for student development and leadership drive Farmer’s passion for making connections with potential students and donors.

Carla Bryant Farmer has worked as an accomplished marketer, strategist, fundraiser and community leader since 1986. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Pittsburg State University.

Carla Bryant Farmer became Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Communication at Cottey College in 2015. She organizes and directs a staff of five, and develops and manages the annual budget in the newly created Marketing and Strategic Communications Department. Farmer directs marketing, public relations, college communications, web, new media, and development of partnership, based on established institutional values and strategic planning priorities while serving as lead communications officer of the college. In this expanded role, Farmer retains all responsibilities of her previous position as Associate Vice President for Development at Cottey College, and assures that an appropriate image and consistent message is presented in support of the college mission. She works in collaboration with the President and the President’s Council to facilitate the educational and institutional mission and goals of the college. Additionally, Farmer seeks gifts to support the college operations. She works actively and collaboratively with other administrators, faculty, staff and external stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Carla Bryant Farmer was Special Assistant to the President for Marketing and Associate Vice President for Development at Cottey College beginning in 2014. Following the highly successful A Defining Moment Campaign, Farmer was named to the new position to define and lead the College’s integrated marketing strategy with the goals of positioning Cottey College as a leader in higher education, strengthening recruitment, and raising awareness of the college’s distinctive attributes. Farmer built on the recognition, visibility and momentum achieved through the A Defining Moment Campaign. She strengthened market presence and enrollment through cross-functional marketing and promotions initiatives, including greater media visibility, alumnae motivation, and positive relationships with existing and future donors.

Carla Bryant Farmer was Campaign Manager and Senior Major Gifts Officer at Cottey College from July 2009 to 2014. In this time, she implemented, developed and executed A Defining Moment Campaign, a five-year, $35 million comprehensive campaign, and the first comprehensive campaign in the school’s history. The goal was surpassed, raising $40 million and secured donations from the majority of PEO chapters. Funds raised through the campaign were used to expand degree programs, increase scholarship funds, establish faculty chairs, enhance the library, construct a fine arts building, in addition to providing unrestricted funds. Farmer developed and implemented more than 96 awareness events across the United States and Canada to expand knowledge and understanding of the needs of the College. Through her efforts, a nationwide pipeline was built of potential donors; relationships created with nearly 20 thousand of them; which generating more than nine thousand first-time donors. Farmer oversaw expansion of an electronic network across 6,000 PEO chapters, which established a liaison at each chapter to bolster support of the college, built positive relationships, and provided updates on programs.

Carla Bryant Farmer was Director of Marketing and Development/Community Relations Director at Mercy Health System of Kansas from August 1986 to January 2009. She was recruited to the newly created role of Community Relations Director in 1986 and developed the position description. Farmer evolved the role by identifying marketing/PR gaps and created initiatives to address those needs. She established the Marketing & Development function for the hospital, as well as the Endowment & Foundation Board to advocate for health care in the rural area. Farmer created foundation infrastructure and oversaw growth. She planned, organized and launched Mercy Health Center’s first capital campaign since the 1950s, built strong support from donors and raised $2.1 million, more than double the $1 million goal in a small, rural community. In addition, she secured $275 thousand in state tax credits. Farmer directed all PR, marketing, messaging and brand campaigns for Mercy Health Center, positioning them as a technological/medical leader in diagnostics and patient outcomes. She developed marketing collateral as well as broadcast, print, and direct mail initiatives to achieve objectives. Farmer led implementation of marketing of Urgent Care services, the first of its kind service initiative in the regional market. She launched the “Women in Philanthropy” organization to raise funds earmarked to address unmet health needs of women and children in the service area. Farmer led implementation of the “Spirit of Women” outreach initiative, as well as programs and events to educate women about key health issues. She strengthened employee engagement, retention and satisfaction through staff recognition programs, including the “Spirit of Mercy Employee Award.” She led Health Center volunteer organizations, including the Auxiliary Board, Advisory Board, and Foundation Board. She created the annual “Capture the Spirit Gala” to build awareness and establish relationships with future donors; raised over $900 thousand during its tenure and attracted up to 600 attendees each year in a community of 8,600 residents.

Carla Bryant Farmer’s recognition and community involvement include being a three-time recipient of the Emerald Award, the highest communication award presented by the Kansas Association of Health Care Communicators. She was named Rotarian of the Year, a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation, and served as Assistant District Governor for Rotary International, District 7110. As President, she led the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation, Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), Chapter FU Kansas, Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, Fort Scott Rotary Club, and Kansas Association of Health Care Communicators. Additionally, she served on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House of the Four States, Kansas Society for Children with Challenges, and Citizens Bank NA Advisory Board. Currently, she serves on the Central Exchange of Kansas City Advisory Board, a 1,100 member women’s professional leadership development organization.