325th MDG remembers former MDSS commander

  • Published
  • By 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On June 25, 2024, the 325th Medical Group celebrated the opening of a Heritage Room dedicated to Lt. Col. Jennifer Baker, the former 325th Medical Support Squadron commander, who died of cancer in December 2023. The dedication provided a chance for members of the 325th MDSS to remember her and provide closure to those who were impacted by her.

Baker, a pharmacist by trade, led the 325th MDSS from June 2019 to July 2021. She advocated for a leadership philosophy encapsulated by the acronym I.N.T.E.G.R.I.T.Y., which stands for initiative and innovation, nurturing, teamwork, excellence, giving, respect, intelligence, trust and you. Overall, Baker believed that adhering to these principles fosters completeness in personal and professional aspects of life.

“Everyone remembers how she made them feel: seen, heard, empowered, motivated, trusted. She was the person who would believe in you more than you would ever believe in yourself,” said Lt. Col. Emily Dietrich, 325th MDSS commander as well as friend and mentee of Baker. “We want to honor her and her work here…dedicating this room to her so that her leadership philosophy can live on.”

Heritage Rooms are designed to be a gathering place for unit members, in official and social capacities and reflect the history of the squadron. The Lt. Col. Baker Heritage Room, featuring a framed official photograph of Baker and high-top tables with barstools, was designed to reflect Baker’s personality and the values she embodied. Col. Kendra Warner, 325th MDG commander, stated she wanted to replicate the environment Baker brought and make sure the room is one where whoever enters will be able to reciprocate the positivity, whether it be for a celebration, event or meeting. Dietrich explained they evaluated several spots with the medical group for the dedication, but they chose the Heritage Room as a space for members to refocus, recenter and keep Baker’s leadership philosophy alive.

“I was shocked by the amount of effort that was put into honoring her,” stated Jose Nevarez, Baker’s husband. “It’s very fitting because of how she was as a leader, always showing that she cared about each and every individual she worked with. I’m deeply honored to see her legacy continue to grow and leave a mark on people.” 

Following her assignment at Tyndall, she went on to head the 59th Medical Operations Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The 59th MDOS, a much larger squadron in comparison to the 325th MDSS, consisted of about 500-600 members. According to Dietrich, the smaller squadron with the 325th MDSS gave Baker the opportunity to get to know people on a much more personal level and build a great legacy.

“This position at Tyndall was her most favorite job in the Air Force,” Dietrich said. “She was the squadron commander that took over after [Hurricane Michael]. She helped a lot of people heal…meet goals and just left a lasting impact.” 

The 325th MDG plans to continue working on further developing the Lt. Col. Baker Heritage Room with more media in her honor and to continue to build cohesion within the unit.