CLASS OF 1987: Brig Gen Kim Baumann, USAF

Generally Speaking

Kim Baumann’s promotion to the rank of brigadier general in the Rhode Island Air National Guard last November landed her in the annals of history, twice over. Not only is she the first alumna of Norwich University’s traditional undergraduate programs to become a general—she is also the first woman to achieve that rank in the Rhode Island National Guard.

Born Kimberly Jones into a Connecticut farming family with many military relatives, she grew up with a deep sense of patriotism. Norwich presented many top criteria she was seeking in a college: a field hockey team, an Air Force ROTC program (she had a scholarship), and solid academic programs. Baumann calls her introduction to her cadre “quite a wakeup call,” but from the moment she filed into formation with her rook class, she realized she had found her niche.

With a bachelor of science in mathematics and a commission from Norwich Detachment 867 in hand, Baumann began her full-time military career with the Air National Guard. She went on to serve in a variety of operations, staff, and command positions, working in combat communications units, fixed communications, major command headquarters, component command headquarters, and for Headquarters Air Force. During this time, she assisted in numerous natural-disaster relief efforts in the continental United States, and deployed on missions to 15 countries ranging from Iraq to Korea.

For the Air National Guard Bureau, she served as chief of both the Warfighting Capabilities & Integration Division and the Cyber Policy, Plans, and Resources Division, supporting all 105,000 Air National Guard members in 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia.

She credits her promotion, in part, to her breadth of experience and the support of those she has worked with.

“I learned at Norwich that you should always accept new challenges and not back down,” Baumann says. “You gain so much confidence here, whether you’re a Corps cadet or a civilian student. You develop strong leadership skills and learn how to work with many different types of people who sometimes don’t see things the same way you do.”

Today, as an advisor for the Rhode Island Governor’s Cyber Task Force and Assistant Adjutant General–Air for the Rhode Island Air National Guard, Baumann is responsible for all the state’s 1,100 Guard personnel. Her role varies, from preparing Guard members and their families for the challenges of deployment—10 to 20 percent of the state’s Air Guard personnel are deployed at any given time—to helping position troops on the ground for state and federal missions.

Kim Baumann holds master’s degrees from the University of New Haven and the Air War College. In 2016, she completed a PhD in technology education at Northcentral University.
Brig Gen Baumann (fourth from right) with the Norwich contingent, following her promotion ceremony. Next to her is daughter Katelyn Baumann ’19, with husband Philipp Baumann Jr. ’86 & M’14 standing behind.

“I have a unique advantage in the role that I play, as I’ve experienced deployment from the perspective as the one sent off to do an important job, and as the one keeping the home fires burning while a loved one is thousands of miles away,” Baumann says; her husband, Philipp Baumann Jr. ’86 & M’14, is a retired Army officer. “Now it’s my job to make sure today’s military families have everything they need to thrive.”

Baumann also finds time to give back to her alma mater, volunteering as vice chair of the NU College of Graduate and Continuing Studies Board of Fellows, and serving on the university Cyber Task Force. For her efforts, she received the 2017 Sustained Service Award. When she thinks about advice for the next Norwich generation, including her daughter Katelyn Baumann ’19, she reflects on a classic adage: attitude is everything.

“Being positive in life can help you overcome any challenge, from small to large,” Baumann says. “If you project confidence and optimism to the people around you, both personally and professionally, you’ll go far in life.” –Kathrin Havrilla

 

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