Team Member Spotlight: Kelly Baker - Penn-Mar

Team Member Spotlight: Kelly Baker

Posted on July 12, 2023

Each month, we highlight a “behind-the-scenes” team member whose work supports our mission, but whose face you might not often see on our social media pages.

We’re excited to help you get to know our innovative team and the complex work we do.

So, tune in for our #TeamMemberSpotlight, where our team members share in their own words a bit about themselves!

Kelly Baker smiling for headshotWhat is your job title? Career Ladders Program Coordinator

How long have you been with Penn-Mar? Since February of 2013

How did you get connected with Penn-Mar? When I moved to the area, I was looking for something new. Penn-Mar was close by and my family who lived in the area talked about it in high regard, so I took a chance.

What was your previous work experience prior to Penn-Mar and how did it prepare you for your current role? After leaving college with a Bachelor’s degree in Culture, Religion, and Mission (think Anthropology degree with a spiritual twist), I started working at Rosetta Stone. There I learned the importance of collaboration, the complexity of innovation, the power of communication, and of course, how to say hi in 25 different languages. (Please don’t test me, it’s been years!) I supported people to learn new languages, motivating them to continue their journey and reach their goals. I do similar work now when I teach Person-Centered Supports training and encourage DSPs on their certification journeys.

What does your work entail? Lots of reading! A lot of my job is similar to a professor grading essays. Even though I don’t offer a grade on testimonials submitted to the NADSP, I read each one of them before they are submitted. I do this for a variety of reasons, but the best one is that I get to read about all the wonderful work DSPs are doing every day with the people they support. Some of them bring me to tears, some of them make me laugh, always with gratitude for everything DSPs handle with such grace and kindness.

What’s an average day like for you? On top of the typical program management tasks, an average day entails a lot of reading and meeting or emailing with DSPs to chat about their progress in the program and answering any questions they have. I also consult frequently with other human service providers about how they can develop and implement their own version of Career Ladders utilizing E-Badge Academy. Some days you might see me teaching the Person-Centered Supports training, too.

What is your favorite part of your job? Being a cheerleader and mentor for DSPs as they navigate this program is easily my favorite part. I’m very lucky in that I get to see a lot of the transformation through the work DSPs submit for badges. I see their approaches change, their language change, the way in which they view themselves as a person can change. It’s magnificent to watch.

In another life, your career path is . . . When I was younger, I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but I don’t think I would have liked it. I really just wanted to own a pet monkey. A better bet would have been either an art or music therapist.

Why is Penn-Mar’s mission important to you? I feel intricately involved in Penn-Mar’s mission because it takes courageous DSPs to support the courageous lives of the people we support. Being brave can be scary. Trying new things with unknown outcomes is a lot learning to surf, unsure if you’ll be able to stand or if you’ll get crushed. We need courageous staff to show the people we support that it’s just as successful to try as it is to win or lose. Utilizing the 3 E’s plays largely into this as a life preserver for DSPs, helping them ride the waves created by people living courageously.

What’s one thing you wished the general public knew about people with IDD? Just the simple fact that they are human beings who deserve to be treated as such.

Any hidden talents or fun facts someone wouldn’t know about you? I can write backwards! I contribute this talent to my natural dyslexia and affinity for doodling during class.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, you’d visit . . . I would love to visit Japan. The food, culture… all of it sounds invigorating.

In your spare time, you’ll be found . . . Playing disc golf with my family, getting tackled by my two boys, or hiding in my room reading a book.

A book, movie, TV show, sports team, etc. you love: I’m a 90s movie kinda gal. Parks and Rec is my fav comedy show. For sports, my preference for football would be Liverpool and the poorly renamed, Washington Football Team. For basketball, it’s the Sixers. Baseball is the worst, but I’d cheer for my hometown Phillies although the Orioles are growing on me…

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