Tuesday, November 30

New Main Street director brings love for community

By Betsy Reason

Living and working in downtown Noblesville gives Kate Baker a great sense of community.

The Noblesville native who was born in Riverview Hospital and graduated from Noblesville High School in 1999 is often found enjoying Noblesville’s good life.

She moved four years ago to an 1850s cottage just two blocks from the historic Hamilton County Courthouse Square. She even opened the doors to her home for September’s Noblesville Preservation Alliance Historic Home Tour and, a month earlier, she offered her porch for the Noblesville Front Porch Music Festival on Logan Street.

She walks to the Square for events that include Noblesville Main Street’s annual Noblesville Street Dance, Music and All That Jazz, First Fridays and the new Salsa on the Square in July.

Baker can now even walk to her Conner Street office as the new Noblesville Main Street executive director, a position she began on Oct. 1.

“While I grew up in Noblesville, this move allowed me to be more involved in our downtown community,” Baker said.

Baker is pretty proud of her hometown as well as what Main Street does for the community in partnership with the downtown merchants. “The Noblesville Main Street Farmers Market is the best farmers market I’ve ever been to,” she added.

Another favorite event was the first-time Salsa on the Square in July. “This past year, it was such a celebration of music, dance and culture, right on Logan Street. I looked around to see faces of pure joy during that event. I loved seeing people trying Salsa dancing for the first time right alongside the folks who have been doing it for their whole lives, together having such a wonderful time,” she said. “That’s Noblesville to me.”

After moving into her home on the historic brick street, she was soon approached to join the board of Noblesville Main Street.

“I was thrilled, as I truly loved the work the organization did for Historic Downtown Noblesville,” she said. “…It was a joy to be a member of the board to this organization I’d loved for so long.”

Then when former Main Street executive director Lorna (Steele) Oskouie redirected her career path to follow a passion in real estate, her job vacancy opened the possibilities for Baker. “For me, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to become even more invested in this organization that does so much to enrich the culture and community of downtown Noblesville,” she said.

Baker departed a successful position at Conner Prairie to come to Main Street. While she was very happy with her role within Conner Prairie’s development team as senior manager of advancement and board relations, she used this opportunity to “dive deeper” into Noblesville Main Street. “I realized that I had an opportunity to apply all the skills I’d acquired throughout my various positions during my nearly 20 years in the workforce. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was a chance to give back to a city I’m so very proud to be from.”

In Noblesville, Baker grew up singing and loving theater. She was involved in high-school drama productions and sang with NHS Singers and New Dimension show choirs, and she also sang in the chancel choir at Noblesville First United Methodist Church with the late music of ministry Mary Resler. She also performed in a couple of stage productions at The Belfry Theatre.

It was through her involvement with the Up With People organization — she toured for a year (1999-2000) right out of high school performing in musical productions, spending six months in the United States and six months in Sweden, Austria, Germany, Spain and Portugal, Belgium and France  — that Baker was awarded a college scholarship to study music. She attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and earned a bachelor’s degree in music, with voice as her instrument, in 2004, she headed for the west coast and Hollywood.

The day after graduation, she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for Nederlander Promotions at the famous Greek Theatre, The Bridge Entertainment Group (which was the management team of singer/songwriter Tori Amos). Fuel TV (Fox) and HBO.

At HBO, she worked on the media and talent relations team for almost eight years. The Times readers might recall her memories of working with the late “90210” star Luke Perry (Dylan McKay) who, at the time, portrayed talent scout, manager and agent in 10 episodes of the first show she worked on, “John From Cincinnati,” a television drama set against the surfing community of Imperial Beach, Calif., airing June to August in 2007. Baker also worked on HBO’s “True Blood” series, for which she assisted in the launch and wrap of the seven-season series, and on “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Game of Thrones.”

After working in Los Angeles for seven years, she relocated back to Noblesville in July 2014 to be closer to family

The daughter of Steve and Mary Baker, she then worked for her father and brother (Dan Baker) at Baker-Utility Partners in Arcadia and Hamilton-Boone Madison Co-Op Special Services & Mosaics program as an instructional assistant in the intense behavior classroom at Hamilton Heights Elementary before finding her most recent position at Conner Prairie, where she stayed for the past five-and-one-half years.

Today, outside of her daytime career, she is assistant music director for Noblesville First UMC, where she has been a member of the choir since she was 14 and where she also plays in the handbell choir and is involved in Sunshine Friends ministry for intellectual and developmental disabilities, “something I’ve participated in since I was 4 years old,” Baker said. “Sunshine Friends is an incredibly joyful group I love being a part of.” She also teaches piano lessons and officiates weddings and loves to travel and keep up with the latest in television and film.

What makes Baker smile? “The kindness of others, my nieces and nephew, laughter, my dogs, the ocean. There are so many things that bring me joy.”

She’s “an incredibly proud aunt, the best title I’ve ever had,” and “a proud mom” to her two sweet huskies, Dakota and Dasher.

Since coming on to the job 40 days ago, Baker is right at home at Noblesville Main Street, where she plans to stay. The community can find her in the Main Street offices, at 839 Conner St., just above Nickel Plate Arts’ NobleMade gift shop, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. She invites everyone to stop in. “I love hearing about what people value about Noblesville Main Street and, of course, what they’d like to see from us in the future,” she said. Also, she encouraged folks to come downtown to see stores transformed into holiday wonderlands and get Christmas shopping done early.

While she loves all of Main Street’s special events, she said, “We’re always looking to evolve, so don’t be surprised if you see some new events pop up in the years ahead.”

The relationship between Main Street’s executive director and its board of directors is strong. “Our board of directors are incredibly hands-on and are crucial in the execution of our events and partnerships in this city,” Baker said. “This type of collaboration will continue, and I’m proud to lead the mission and vision of Noblesville Main Street.”

Baker said, “I’m immensely thankful for my new role with Noblesville Main Street and opportunity to work with the City and all the wonderful merchants, businesses and organizations that make up our unmatched downtown area,” Baker said. “What a privilege it is to walk to work each day to interact with my friends and neighbors to promote the town I love with all my heart.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Want TO GO?

What: Noblesville Main Street Small Business Saturday has been extended to Nov. 26 and 27 in downtown Noblesville, with everyone encouraged to “shop small” all weekend long.

What else: Deck the Downtown during Main Street’s First Friday in December, 5 p.m. to midnight Dec. 3, with downtown merchants open late, coordinated with Lights Over Seminary, Federal Hill Ice Plaza, visit with Santa on the Square and window decor judging.

Meet the new director: Stop in and see Noblesville Main Street executive director Kate Baker from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Main Street, 839 Conner St., across from the Courthouse in downtown Noblesville.

Info: https://www.noblesvillemainstreet.org/

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