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Presenter Preview: Jillian Baer

Erin Scott

Get to know another one of our presenters at The Exchange, Jillian Baer!


Jillian is the Director of Graduate Recruitment for the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, where she also serves as the co-President for the Association of Graduate and Professional Administrators (AGPA) and co-advisor to TEDxOhioStateUniversity.  She works enthusiastically to provide access and opportunities for students seeking graduate education and is dedicated to supporting staff seeking community within the large Ohio State environment. The National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals recently awarded Jillian with the “Future Leader Award” for 2017 for her leadership on Ohio State’s campus and dedication to building and creating community among the staff on her campus. As Jillian progresses in her career, she hopes to continue connecting individuals and expanding the collaborative mentality within large and often disconnected environments. A fan of Broadway, baseball, and baking, this young educator is ready to share with the women of Columbus how to find and lead their own professional tribe.


We had the chance to ask Jillian a few questions, and here's our conversation!




So you said YES to sharing your expertise with the Bad Bish Network! Why did you accept this invitation to participate as a presenter?


"I am so encouraged by everything that Bad Bish stands for and to be invited to participate in an event in this way is completely humbling. I want to continue to advocate for professionals in my Ohio State community and am excited about the opportunity to step outside of my immediate network to feel inspired by women from all around Columbus. The talent and ambition is apparent in this group and I am just grateful to be a part of it."


Tell us a little bit about the topic you plan to share.


"I'm speaking about finding your own community. I work in a large and often overwhelming environment so I can personally speak to the importance of finding the right people to surround yourself with when you're looking to create your own community."


Why are you uniquely suited to talk about this topic?


"With the help of some colleagues, I actually spearheaded my own community within Ohio State to connect people doing the same work as me across colleges and departments. I am so excited to share the process in hopes that other people can do the same thing I did!"


Do you present frequently? Do you like getting up in front of people and speaking, or does it make you nervous?


"I love being able to share ideas and lessons learned with anyone who will listen. We all do our best work when we are supporting one another, practicing open communication and transparency, and helping each other along the way. By presenting things I've learned, and encouraging others to do the same, our community grows in knowledge and strength (whether that be at The Ohio State University or Columbus at large). I have been fortunate enough to present at more than a dozen national conferences and many more local and state events. These opportunities have come because of the collaborative work to which I've been able to contribute. The teams I've joined and the partnerships I've formed have provided me more opportunities to learn and grow as a public speaker than I could have ever imagined."


Why is networking important to you? What groups do you belong to or participate in?


"Networking is at the crux of my strategic approach to my personal and professional life. Without those around me, I would not be able to pursue my passions for higher education, graduate education and access, or the betterment of the communities and those individuals within them. I truly believe in collaboration over competition and that by working together, we can improve practices and efficiency for all of those involved. Particularly with women, the support network and the desire to help one another succeed makes a huge difference in in the lives of those most impacted. By providing my support and voice to a community, I can also help speak on behalf of those that feel they have no voice. Empowering others to use their knowledge and experience to speak on a topic of expertise is one of my greatest joys. There are so many brilliant people out there! I continue to strive to use my voice and my network to help people realize it.  


Something special happens when women get together, collaborate, and lift each other up. Why do you think that is?


"YES! When women come together, magic is possible. The collaborative spirit of the women in Columbus with whom I am lucky enough to call friends and colleagues is truly infectious and helps all members of the community thrive. I am an advocate for transformational and distributed leadership tactics. That includes engaging the full person, redistributing power within a community, and inspiring others for the good of the group. We can achieve this by building one another up, regardless of position or stature. The results brought on by this approach, when women come together to share their brilliance, is very inspiring!"


Name some of the female role models whom you look up to and why?

"Most of my female role models are current mentors, supervisors, and collaborators. I have been extremely lucky to work for and with incredible women in my time as a professional. These are women I still turn to for professional and personal guidance, reference support in job interviews, and overall encouragement in my profession. These role models are a mix of faculty and administrators in my field of higher education. And I also very much look up to colleagues that have challenged me and supported me along the way. We hear a lot about older mentors and higher level professionals that are critical to our journey as we move forward as young professionals, and I think that's important. But I can't talk enough about those at my own level who have supported my ambitions, challenged me, nominated me for things, partnered with me, collaborated, created alongside me - all making me a better person and educator. These women come in all forms from professional to personal circles and continue to inspire me every single day.


If someone was interested in doing the work that you do for a living, what advice would you give them?


"Don't get discouraged by bureaucracy, but rather find a way to use it to your advantage and leverage the system to meet your needs! There are ways to create your own "side hustle" within your organization - and it doesn't always have to be for money, for advancement, or completely separate from your role. Look for ways to build community within your place of work. For me, that meant building a space for those doing similar roles around campus to come together once a month to share and learn. This has exploded into a supportive and collaborative community that simultaneously feeds my passion and helps me with my day-to-day work. I am able to leverage the mission and goals of the University to help further the cause of our collaboration. By understanding our larger community at Ohio State and the goals created by university leadership, we've been able to secure funding and support for our initiatives by building bridges to the larger mission. These large, rigid organizational structures do not have to be a hindrance, but rather they can provide a system of support to help feed passion and progress."


You'll hear more from Jillian at The Exchange on April 27!