“Details matter. Always. Right down to your shoes.”

Heather Baker

Wordsmith & Keeper of the Orange Shoes

Chief Operating Officer at Southwest Michigan First & Editor-in-chief of First & 42

The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is something that Heather Baker has gotten used to. Realizing as a child that sparks of creativity came to her in images, she used her skill of visualization at various points in her life to her advantage whether it was getting ready to make a play on the college softball field, choreographing a dance routine for Yale University’s cheerleading team, and now today, leading Southwest Michigan First’s marketing and communications efforts.

At Southwest Michigan First, Heather strategically aligns the Southwest Michigan First brand with its overarching mission of “the greatest force for change is a job,” serves as liaison to the organization’s Board of Directors, and gives creative directions for all print and digital materials. Her ability to turn pictures into words has proven invaluable as co-author of Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond, conceptual web designer and producer of a regional business television segment. As for being a wordsmith, she does love the written word and was born with Smith for her last name.

Heather serves as editor-in-chief First & 42: The Kalamazoo Region’s Digital Daily and 269 MAGAZINE—digital and print publications communicating the distinctive brand that is Southwest Michigan. And, she has worked on behalf of the organization with FOX Business News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chemical & Engineering News, The New York Times and Forbes. So, maybe it’s because of all that time spent behind and in front of the camera that makes her so comfortable teetering in those orange heels as part of the emcee team at Catalyst University!