Celeste N. Baker
Celeste is EDI’s longest serving employee after joining the firm in 1995 as Accounting Manager when EDI was located in Downers Grove, Illinois, and had just 20 employees. Working closely with EDI’s founder, the late Deborah Sawyer, Celeste helped steward the financial health of a growing firm with a quickly expanding and diversifying client base.
She says it is quite an experience to have been a part of “herstory in the making” and its ongoing legacy under the leadership of EDI’s current President and CEO, Leslie J. Sawyer. Celeste continues to help provide financial leadership for EDI while managing the accounting staff and collaborating with EDI’s department and project managers.
Celeste’s family has generations of finance and accounting professionals. She followed down that familiar path with her love of numbers and math. With accounting, she is intrigued by the science of mathematical applications. “Theory, logic and critical thinking in accounting keeps the dust from settling on my brain,” she said with a chuckle. Celeste received her BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois—Chicago.
In business, relationships can be the key to new opportunities. Celeste came to EDI after one of her commercial lending clients—Deborah Sawyer—invited her to lunch and on to a new career path.
Celeste had met Deborah while performing an asset-based lending audit on her company. “I enjoyed the commercial lending industry, but the work requires a lot of travel,” she remembered. “After years of traveling, I longed for a job that would keep me in my home city. The chance to get a local audit was rare and I was glad to get the EDI assignment,” she added.
She completed the audit, issued her report and moved on, so she thought. Weeks later Deborah invited her to lunch. That lunch turned into a job interview where Deborah offered her an opportunity to join EDI.
Celeste is active with her church and other community organizations. She is a life-long member of the St. Luke Church of God in Christ in Chicago and she serves on its Executive Board. She is active in a ministry that provides holistic services that goes beyond the spiritual needs of the community. She is also a board member for Henry’s Sober Living House, an organization that provides a housing program for men and women who have successfully completed a rehabilitation program and are prepared to return to the community as responsible, alcohol, and drug free individuals.
As EDI celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Celeste is looking forward to a virus free and maskless environment so she can see the smiling faces of EDI staff. She cherishes her relationships with EDI staff members—past and present—and looks forward to developing new connections as EDI continues to grow and thrive.