When Jessica Baker heard her name announced as the 2021 Realtor Salesperson of the Year during the Realtors Association of Maui’s (RAM) Installation Gala on Friday, Nov. 5, she was momentarily stunned.
“I was floored,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it … I thought, ‘This can’t be right! They can’t actually be picking me.’”
But they did. And with good reason.
That day, Baker was recognized for her business and real estate accomplishments, as well as her spirit, character, professionalism and volunteer work. She was honored alongside 2021 Realtor Broker of the Year P. Denise La Costa and 2021 Affiliate of the Year Dan Bardenhagen.
Baker, a Realtor Salesperson with Compass Hawaii, started her real estate career in 2011. “I can think of no greater honor when someone places their trust in me to help them find a home—or a new home for their business,” she said. “Looking back on the past decade, I smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I think about the individuals and their specific stories and all the precious memories being made in their Maui homes.”
And the most rewarding part of being a Realtor also comes with the greatest responsibility, Baker said. “People aren’t always making housing changes for happy reasons—sometimes it happens when our clients are going through the most stressful, frightening or sad times in their personal lives and they’re placing a huge amount of trust in us to see them through this major life transition,” she explained. “I’m committed to honoring that trust with the highest level of service. If I can shoulder some of that stress and responsibility during those transitions and make the sale process as smooth as possible, then that’s my greatest reward.”
Baker’s passion for helping her clients is rivaled only by her love for the water. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, she said, “My parents could not keep me out of the water. From three to four years old onwards I was always wanting to swim in the chilly waters of Lake Superior, in a pool, in other lakes and rivers. The ocean was always on my mind as the ultimate dream.”
That dream came true not long after Baker moved to Maui in 2006. “I brought my swim cap and goggles to Ka‘anapali Beach one afternoon and started swimming back and forth,” she recalled. “That was it—I was spoiled for life.”
Since then, she’s completed swimming events like the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the Kaanapali Klassic and the Maui Channel Swim, for which she and her teammates raised more than $12,000 for Swim Across America, a nonprofit that raises money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment. She’s also participated in the Sophie Swim, an annual open-water race that raises funds for the Sophie DeLoria Foundation, which supports organizations that provide athletic and performing arts opportunities to local youth.
And when she’s in the ocean, Baker does her part to keep it clean. “Every time I’m out in the water I find myself looking for trash and hauling it in,” she said. “I have quite a collection of sunglasses and snorkels! From plastic bottles to golf balls to fishing line to items best not to mention in print, I’ll pick it up off the ocean floor and bring it in.”
Baker currently serves on RAM’s Board of Directors as a Director-at-Large and also chairs RAM’s Technology Committee. She says she’s proud to be part of Maui’s real estate community. “If there is one commonality among all Maui Realtors, it’s how much we deeply care for and love our island community,” Baker said. “From assisting our clients in buying and selling properties to property management to communicating with our local government bodies, nothing makes us happier than helping our Maui ‘ohana with their housing needs.”