Alumnae News & Highlights

Anne Baker ’78 has seen the world, but the world has seldom seen a person as passionate about global education as she.

“My grandparents started traveling after retirement and I heard their stories about remote corners of the world. I remember thinking that was something I wanted to experience,” explains Baker.

Two years after graduating from Amherst College (where she was the only woman in her class to earn a degree in physics), she joined the Peace Corps and found herself in the Fiji Islands teaching high school physics, math, and science. At the end of her assignment in 1987, leaving the people of Fiji was one of the most difficult things Baker ever has had to do.

But the experience abroad made her aware of just how much she enjoyed teaching. So she moved from the Peace Corps to St. George’s, a boarding school in Rhode Island, where she taught math, coached sports, lived in a dorm, and directed the hand-bell choir. The school was working to become more international, and Baker was ready to assist. She started a Cultural Outreach Club and strived to help students examine global issues and their local impact. With a goal of bringing global education into the classroom, Baker took a year off of teaching to earn an ED.M. with a concentration in international education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Upon her return to St. George’s, she was named Director of Cultural Affairs and International Student Advisor.

Still, she felt that her talents and knowledge could have a greater impact. In 1996, Baker joined the staff at the National Peace Corps Association, a nonprofit organization that champions Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, produces global education programs and advocacy campaigns and provides community, national and international services. She went to work immediately developing and establishing the Global TeachNet program (NPCA’s Education program), a national network of educators promoting a more global perspective across the K-12 curriculum. In 1998, her role expanded as the Director of Global Education. In 2001, she became Director of Global Education and Programs, shifting to Director of Global Education and Technology in 2002.

In 2004, NPCA asked Baker to take on the newly created role of Vice President, the position she holds today. “That title means that I am not tied down to one area, but I am able to do lots of things,” she explains. Baker credits HB with establishing the foundation for her confidence and career success. She is grateful to have learned in an all-girls’ environment and to have had the opportunity to try a variety of activities afforded by the small school setting.

Baker joined as a seventh-grader and shared the experience with her mother, Nancy Baker, who taught English and was head of HB’s middle school. “I am lucky to have had that time with my mother, who was devoted to HB. She passed away from cancer shortly after my graduation,” says Baker, whose father comes to HB each year to help present the Nancy Baker Award to a deserving HB student. Baker was the first in her family to join Peace Corps, followed by her stepsister, Becky Smith, who joined shortly after Baker’s return to the U.S. from Fiji. She was stationed in to Guatemala from 1988-1990, where she met her husband, Jeff Hopkins, who also was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1987-1989. Baker’s partner, Murty Polavarapu, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji from 1990-1992. And in 2001 her father and stepmother, John Baker and Kathy Smith, joined the Peace Corps in their retirement and served together in Romania from 2001-2003.

  • Alumnae Achievement Award