New GIA President: We Want to ‘Listen More’

You will see greater transparency, openness, and an increased “customer focus” from the Gemological Institute of America in the future, according to acting president Donna Baker.

Baker recently took over as president from longtime GIA head William E. Boyajian, who resigned in May. The Institute’s board of directors is conducting a search for a permanent replacement. Baker is a “leading” candidate for that position, says chairman Ralph Destino.

“I would like to see GIA continue to be more focused on meeting the needs of the public and the trade,” Baker says. “My biggest priority is listening. That means listening more to our constituents—which means our clients, our students, and, frankly, our critics.”

Baker has a varied résumé—she spent 10 years as a nun, has an MBA, and was a partner in a private law firm before she was recruited as GIA’s in-house counsel four years ago.

She had no jewelry industry background before joining GIA, but she has since earned her G.G. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she says. “I am just impressed with the dedication of the people here. … It’s an honor to be in this role and to continue to lead GIA to fulfill its mission.”

Baker says she is going to launch a business process review of the lab—to look at ways to increase efficiency and customer service. Then she plans a similar review of GIA itself.

Baker couldn’t offer any update on the situation at the lab, saying that “we don’t know what is going on” with law enforcement. And she doesn’t want to criticize anything in the past that may have led GIA to its current problems.

“Hindsight is 20–20,” she says. “Had I been in the situation, I don’t know. What I hoped we got from all of this is the importance of listening and paying close attention to the input that we get from our constituents.”

She says the scandal has had “some impact” on GIA’s reputation. “But GIA continues to be preeminent in various fields,” she adds. “I don’t think there are others that can rival it in terms of integrity, in terms of research, in terms of the quality of our work.”