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Baker serves as the interim executive director of the Government & Economic Development Institute (GEDI) in University Outreach and holds the Russell Foundation Professorship in Entrepreneurial Studies. In this role, she helps drive and support economic development and entrepreneurship growth initiatives across the state of Alabama and provides training to civic and elected officials and economic developers.
Prior to joining GEDI, she served as the managing director of the Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship where she guided students and faculty to creatively generate business ideas, refine their plans to maximize success potential, and acquire the resources needed to implement their ideas. During her four-year tenure, the student teams she worked with won or raised over $850 thousand in external sources and earned over $840K in revenue.
Additionally, the community startups she mentored won $150 thousand in competitions to grow their businesses. She is certified to provide training, coaching and mentoring on the lean startup methodologies, value proposition design, and creating and developing sustainable business models by the International Business Innovation Association and I-CorpsTM South.
Baker teaches courses in strategy and technology commercialization at the graduate and executive levels. She previously served on the board of the Southern Management Association. Her academic research has appeared in top journals such as Academy of Management Journal, The Leadership Quarterly and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. Baker serves as a co-principal investigator on a grant awarded $590 thousand to develop an EDA University Center at Auburn University focused on advancing regional commercialization efforts, entrepreneurship, innovation, business expansion, and developing a high-skilled regional workforce by the US Department of Commerce. She is the business expert on a research team awarded $1.275 million to develop and commercialize biomedical implants and rehabilitative orthotics using additive manufacturing.
Prior to her academic work, Baker spent 11 years at 3M Corporation and held a variety of positions centered on engineering and product management. She served as the leader of the Electrical Supplies Business Unit, which had over $60 million in global revenue in the electrical construction and maintenance industry.