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Museum of Idaho head recognized as Idaho CEO of Influence

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Karen Baker

IDAHO FALLS – Karen Baker, the executive director of the Museum of Idaho, has been named one of 20 Idaho CEOs of Influence by the Idaho Business Review.

The CEO of Influence honor recognizes talented leaders of businesses and nonprofit organizations who have left a mark on their businesses and communities from all around Idaho. Baker is the only CEO from the Idaho Falls area being recognized this year.

“I’m just so humbled by this,” Baker told EastIdahoNews.com. “There are some pretty incredible people on this list — not just this year, but in prior years.”

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Potential CEO of Influence honorees are nominated by their peers and contacts. They submit answers to a questionnaire covering their thoughts on leadership and three letters of recommendation, including one from one of their staff members. Previous CEOs of Influence review these letters and answers before picking the honorees.

Baker said that winning this honor puts her in good company.

“Frank Vandersloot won this award in 2018,” she said. “The CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho won, I believe it was last year. There have been some pretty influential people picked, and they look at both for-profit businesses as well as nonprofits because nonprofits can sometimes be as large as some for-profit businesses.”

Baker hopes that the museum’s supporters will take this honor as confirmation that she has the museums of the right path, for today and the future.

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“As a nonprofit, we’re here for the community good,” she said. “I hope that this award helps to give our donors, our sponsors, our community members a vote of approval or a thumbs-up that the museum’s doing good things and it’s run by a good leader. I just hope it instills confidence in this community.”

“I think we have a lot of confidence, and I think we’re doing well as an organization,” she added. “But (the honor) is kind of like an outside vote. To have that outside ‘Hey, there’s a great leader at the helm of the museum,’ I hope that gets us a few more checkmarks as an organization serving the community.”

Baker also said that winning CEO of Influence is as much a reflection on the quality of her staff as it is on her.

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“To be an effective CEO, you have to have a wonderful staff, because you can’t do it all on your own,” she said. “You may have a good idea, but it’s really your staff that carries you. … I feel like though my name may be on this award … I think that it’s recognition for this entire organization. Our board, our staff, our volunteers — we all come together as a team, and I just have the privilege of being the most visible.”

Baker and the other 2020 Idaho CEO of Influence winners will be honored at a reception and awards ceremony at the Boise Center in Boise on May 7. Click here for more information.

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