HARTFORD, Conn. (Sept. 11, 2019) – After serving more than 20 years as president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, Patricia Baker plans to retire in June 2020.
Baker has led the private foundation since its creation in 1999, forming what is now Connecticut’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving health outcomes for people of color. In that time, the foundation has awarded more than $63 million in grants, supported research and coalitions focused on finding ways to improve the health of Connecticut residents, and helped to inform policy and health care delivery.
“It would be difficult to overstate the role Pat has played in advancing the health of Connecticut residents and making sure that eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities are on the agenda for policymakers and health systems,” Connecticut Health Foundation Board Chair David Newton said. “Pat has a wealth of knowledge. She constantly pushes the foundation, grantees, and policymakers to think about the ways to achieve the greatest, most enduring changes that can improve people’s lives. We are grateful for her leadership and her deep commitment to the mission of the foundation, ensuring that everyone has the ability to be as healthy as possible.”
In addition to leading the Connecticut Health Foundation, Baker has played a significant role in state and national health policy efforts. She serves as vice chair of the state’s Healthcare Cabinet, chair of the State Health Improvement Plan advisory council, and is a member of the steering committee of the State Innovation Model initiative. She is also a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and a member of the board of directors of Grantmakers in Health.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work on issues of critical importance to ensure a more equitable and just future,” Baker said. “We have worked hard to be an agent of change and I am proud of what the foundation and its many partners have accomplished. When we began, racial and ethnic health disparities received little attention, and it is heartening to see so many other organizations now also committed to eliminating disparities and addressing the conditions that cause them. This work takes time and dedication, and I am confident in the many people working on these issues at the foundation and across Connecticut.”
Under Baker’s leadership, the Connecticut Health Foundation:
- Played a key role in a major turnaround in access to oral health care for low-income state residents, bringing together advocates, oral health providers, legal services, and policymakers. While in 2005 Connecticut had one of the lowest rates of children covered by Medicaid getting dental care, in 2013, the state ranked best in the United States.
- Supported the creation of innovative programs aimed at intervening early for children with mental health needs, provided early investments in now-proven programs including the nationally recognized trauma intervention Child First, supported the development of parent advocacy networks, and spotlighted the imbalance in mental health access that resulted in many children of color entering the juvenile justice system before receiving services.
- Underwent a strategic shift in 2013 to focus on health equity – that is, ensuring that everyone has the ability to be as healthy as possible, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
- Engaged in policy and advocacy work before it was common among foundations and provided research to inform policy, producing a wide range of reports and briefs on key health topics.
- Trained more than 200 leaders through the foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Program and Academy for Health Equity Advocacy and Leadership.
To learn more about the history of the Connecticut Health Foundation, click here.
The foundation’s board plans to conduct a national search for Baker’s successor. Information about the search, including how to apply, will be available in the coming months on the foundation’s website, www.cthealth.org.