John F. Kennedy University has just announced former assemblywoman Catharine Baker as keynote speaker for the June 22nd general commencement ceremony. Representing the 16th Assembly District from 2014-2018, Baker came to be recognized not only as a leader in advocating for education, transportation, and economic development, but as an independent voice willing to break from party lines and foster bipartisan relationships between Democratic and Republican members. Her exemplary leadership and work in support of the district embodies many of the values JFKU grads will be taking with them out into their communities.
As the Sacramento Bee reported, Baker had the most bipartisan record of any assemblymember in the 2015-2016 session. Her bipartisan leadership also made her one of the most effective members of the Assembly. Nine of her bills—all supporting education, transportation, public safety, and government efficiency—passed the Legislature, and all nine were signed by Governor Brown. One of those bills, for the first time in state history, will help prevent child abuse in California schools. As a result of two bills by Baker, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault are now better protected from their abusers, and programs serving these victims will be better equipped to support those in need. Baker also worked across the aisle to support California’s climate protection legislation.
Among her many legislative accomplishments, Baker took the lead on a bipartisan plan to connect BART with ACE and remove tens of thousands of cars off our roads each day. As vice chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, she took a critical lead in ensuring UC begins to put California residents first over out-of-state students in admissions. Baker was recognized as March of Dimes California’s Legislative Champion for “outstanding leadership, passion, and courage on key bills to support infant, child, and maternal health.” The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network awarded her the California Distinguished Advocacy Award for her leadership on anti-tobacco reforms. California Common Cause awarded her the 2017 We the People Award for her leadership in advancing inclusive democracy.
Baker is a volunteer leader in her community, previously serving on local school improvement committees and a local preschool board, and volunteering with Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts in the region as an archery instructor. She is also a former board director and now trustee of the Diablo Regional Arts Association in Walnut Creek. Baker earned her BA degree from the University of Chicago, overcoming cancer her senior year to graduate Phi Beta Kappa and with honors, and she later went on to earn her JD degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. Baker is a native Californian. She is married to her college sweetheart, Dan Baker, and they currently live in Dublin, California with their school-aged twins. Baker represented the 16th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.
Join us on June 22nd at the Paramount Theater in Oakland to hear from this esteemed speaker and to celebrate our 2019 grads!