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From Hawaii to Blacksburg: Jeri Baker

Working at Virginia Tech since December 1, 2015

Virginia Tech’s Director of Parking and Transportation Jeri Baker has lived in nearly every corner of America. After joining the U.S. Navy, the Texas native packed up and moved to her first duty station at Camp H.M. Smith on Oahu, Hawaii, where her daughter was born. After serving for three years as a signalman, communicating ship-to-ship using flashing lights, Baker was discharged from the military and began a 10 year career in senior management with FedEx. During her time with FedEx, she relocated several times, calling Colorado home before moving back to Texas.

While she calls Blacksburg home now, Baker’s hobbies continue to give her opportunities to travel the world. She’s an avid hot air balloonist and scuba diver and often takes trips across America and to various tropical islands to partake in these pastimes.

At Virginia Tech, Baker oversees the university’s Office of Parking and Transportation, which manages more than 16,400 parking spaces, a motorist assistance program, a fleet of approximately 300 vehicles, and a robust and award-winning alternative transportation program that includes daily shuttles from the Blacksburg campus to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke.

To learn more about the work Baker’s employees in the Office of Parking and Transportation are doing every day, read more People of Parking and Transportation employee spotlights.

Q: What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I oversee the fiscal responsibilities of Parking Services, Alternative Transportation, and Fleet Services. I direct our employees to help maintain the university’s parking, the university’s fleet vehicles, and our programs to get people commuting in anything other than a single occupancy vehicle.

Q: How did you come to work here?

After I moved back to Texas following my career with FedEx, I decided to finish my undergraduate degree in American Studies. I started working at the University of Texas in Austin as a part-time garage cashier. I went from that to a part-time weekend supervisor, to a supervisor, to a garage manager, to the surface manager, to the assistant director. I was ready to move into a more challenging position, and then learned about the director position at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which expanded upon my responsibilities at the University of Texas at Austin. I spent about 2 1/2 years there and then learned about the position here at Virginia Tech. The possibility of becoming a Hokie was very exciting. 

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have several hobbies. I’m very into hot air ballooning, as I have been since 1983. I’ve traveled to a lot of places to do balloon events. I also enjoy traveling for scuba diving. I’m not a cold water scuba diver, so I’m not too interested in scuba diving on the east coast. Hawaii’s even too chilly, in my opinion, to scuba dive. I travel to the Bahamas or Palau.

Written by Steve Barnett, a 2015 multimedia journalism graduate currently studying public relations.
First published: April 4, 2017