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Please Welcome AVP of Human Resources Heyke Kirkendall-Baker

May 30, 2017

  • Heyke and her husband Sete Baker on a recent zip line adventure.
  • Left to right: Youngest son Kevin Nickerson, husband Steve, and Heyke.

Last month, Heyke Kirkendall-Bake JD ’98 joined the Lewis & Clark community as the new associate vice president of Human Resources. Get to know Heyke in the interview below:

Tell us about your background and what part it played in leading you to this job.

I started my professional career by graduating from Lewis & Clark Law School. I spent several years as an employment attorney in Portland law firms before accepting a position within the human resources department of a Fortune 500 company. Then, I was offered a position within the same company as a district manager; this position provided an opportunity to learn effective management and leadership skills. In that role, I lead my team to be the number one district in the state, and I found my professional passion: management coaching. For the next several years, I was an entrepreneur, I worked in K-12, and I worked in higher education. Nineteen years after graduating law school, I returned home to Lewis & Clark with leadership, management, business, legal and higher education experience—uniquely positioned to support Lewis & Clark in its next journey.    

What is your greatest achievement to date?

I have several notable accomplishments in my career. The most notable accomplishment, however, was leading the Silver Falls team (my Silver Stars) to be the number one district in the state of Oregon, with every branch achieving the winner’s circle. We did this by staying in tune with each other, leveraging each other’s strengths, having a great team spirit, believing in the core vision and purpose of the organization, having a shared philosophy, and having fun.

Who is or has been a role model to you?

During an especially difficult time as a teenager, I had a teacher who provided support, kindness, and wisdom. She taught me that I could accomplish the impossible with resilience, determination, integrity, and humor. As a result, my life’s vision statement is aligned with her advice: see it, feel it, believe it, and achieve it.  

Describe how you approach managing employees.

As a leader, my objective is to motivate a team to consistently perform together (the whole is always stronger than the individual parts), while instilling a continuous desire to learn and improve. To do this, I focus on effectively communicating with each person; I strive to delegate responsibility and authority; I set specific and measurable goals (so we know when to celebrate); I keep an open-door policy; I recognize achievements; and—perhaps most importantly—I focus on having fun (work hard and play).   

What are your goals at Lewis & Clark, and how do you hope to accomplish them?

I want the Human Resources team to play an integral supporting role as Lewis & Clark becomes the top liberal arts college in Oregon. To do this, I will ensure that the Human Resources team provides quality services—with a team-work philosophy—that is inspired through effective organizational skills, proactive efforts and maintaining a balance between professionalism and having fun! I want to foster a nurturing environment that is characterized by openness, honesty, fairness, and trust. I believe that this—in turn—will create an environment that empowers, inspires, and values all team members, who will then empower, inspire, and value our students. 

What in your view is the single biggest challenge HR faces?

As the labor market conditions continue to improve and the aging workforce prepares to retire, the need for skilled and educated employees rises. As a result, it is becoming more and more difficult to attract, support, and retain the best, most diverse workforce. For this reason, I will ensure that the Human Resource team assesses and implements proactive measures to attract, support, and retain the best.  

How will you promote diversity in our hiring process and workplace culture?

I intend to assess Lewis & Clark’s culture, and its capacity to not only hire diverse professionals, but to become an environment where those professionals can comfortably be their “authentic” selves—the real key to attracting, recruiting and retaining top diverse talent. By utilizing an equity and empowerment lens, I will identify the activities necessary to overcome any identified cultural barriers. Thereafter, I will assess impact to ensure desired outcomes. My goal is to create an inclusive environment, which will put the concept and practice of diversity into action and create a workplace environment that is characterized by engagement, respect, and a sense of connection.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love life, and I love spending time enjoying life. It’s important for me to spend time with my husband, children, grandchildren, and my friends; we love to spend time together at the Oregon vineyards that are so close to home. I also love to travel and explore different parts of the world.

What’s on your bucket list?

I have a very, very long bucket list! To name just a few items, I want to visit every state in the United States, and I want to visit every continent. I want to meet my future grandchildren and my future great-grandchildren. I want to walk the white sand beaches of Greece. And I want to go on a safari in Africa (I may be able to check this goal off the list in five years).