Donna Baker, who was appointed acting president of the Gemological Institute of America after William E. Boyajian resigned in May, will permanently hold that position.
Baker, only the fifth president in the organization’s 75-year history, was vice president and general counsel prior to her appointment, positions she had held since February 2001. Her presidency represents a number of firsts for the organization: first woman, first lawyer, first not to come from a jewelry or gemological background, and the first not to come out of GIA’s own gemological or instructional staff.
Her varied background includes 10 years as a nun. She also has a law degree and an MBA, and she got her G.G. after she began working at GIA. She is popular internally, and many GIA staffers applauded the selection.
Baker said she “wasn’t expecting” to get the nod. “I have been doing interviews like everybody else. … I am very humbled and honored to succeed people like Robert Shipley, Richard Liddicoat, Glenn Nord, and Bill Boyajian.”
She said her priority is to focus on GIA’s various constituencies and decide how best to meet their needs. “I think that over the last year GIA has been a lot more focused on its constituents, and I think it’s paying off,” she said.
GIA is currently undergoing a strategic review with the Alliance Consulting Group, which is looking at the institute and lab.
Baker will work under current chairman Ralph Destino. “Donna will be more inside and I will be more outside,” Destino said.
He noted that Baker was chosen after an extensive search, which included more than 140 résumés. After narrowing down the candidates to six, the board of governors unanimously chose Baker.
“We think Donna is a wonderfully talented person committed to the growth of GIA,” Destino said. “When we announced her selection to a meeting of the staff, a big cheer went up. That was very gratifying and heartwarming to see.”
|Robert M. Shipley||1931–1952|