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Seasoned USC Fundraiser John Baker to Join University of Utah Health Sciences as Chief Development Officer


University of Utah Health Sciences has named John Baker, a seasoned health care fundraiser who has helped lead a multi-billion dollar campaign for the University of Southern California, as its chief development officer.

Baker has 25 years of experience fundraising in higher education, academic medicine, secondary education, grass-roots community efforts, and creating donor-centric philanthropic programs.

In his current position as senior executive director for development at the USCNorris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baker has led a $485 million campaign initiative for cancers, and serves on the senior leadership team responsible for organizing, planning and executing the $1.5 billion overall campaign for Keck Medicine of USC. As a member of the Keck senior leadership team, he helps to manage, guide and mentor a team of development professionals. Baker begins his new role at the University of Utah on June 1.

At Loyola High School of Los Angeles, Baker conducted the most successful campaign for Catholic secondary education in the nation during the nine years he spent as vice president for advancement. He built a comprehensive development operation at his alma mater, receiving the school's highest awards for his efforts and leadership: the President's Award and Medallion of St. Ignatius.

During his first tenure at USC, Baker was the associate director of development for the Andrus Gerontology Center and Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where he directed communications and alumni efforts, building a successful annual fund program and securing major gifts that led to endowed faculty positions. He then became the USCNorris Comprehensive Cancer Center director of development, where he built a successful planned giving program and initiated grateful patient programs for several departments.

Baker worked on USC's Building on Excellence Campaign during this period, helping the university raise more than $2.83 billion, a record amount. The figure put USC on par with Harvard and Columbia as one of only three universities at the time to raise that level of private support during a campaign.

Baker began his nonprofit career in 1991 as a volunteer and interrn for the Los Angeles County chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency and became the director of marketing and development for the organization. There he doubled the organization's budget in just two years through philanthropy.

University of Utah Health Sciences Senior Vice President Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., said Baker's expertise and experience are crucial to the ongoing effort to replace the aging medical school building with a new Medical Education and Discovery Building, Rehabilitation Hospital, and Ambulatory Care Center. More broadly, he will lead a campaign to advance health in the state and region.

"John shares our vision for a more coordinated and collaborative future of health care, research and education. He has remarkable experience in building new partnerships and expanding community support for the common good," said Lee. "We couldn't be more pleased to have him join us as this very important and exciting time for health care at the University and in our state."

Baker will supervise the Health Sciences development team, manage a portfolio of major gift prospects and donors, and implement a new ‘grateful patient' program to engage potential donors who have received care at UUHC. He will also collaborate with the University's Vice President for Institutional Advancement and main campus fundraising office to enhance a nationally recognized development program.

"I am inspired by the vision of Dr. Lee and the Health Sciences leadership team, the University's innovative approach to delivering quality patient care, and the excellence of the faculty and staff," said Baker. "More than anything else, there is an overwhelming sense of collaboration toward success that includes the community. I'm looking forward to being a part of that, and to building on the legacy of the University of Utah Health Sciences."

A graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, Baker holds a certificate in fundraising and nonprofit management through UCLA and a certificate in planned giving from USC. Baker takes the helm from Interim Chief Development Officer Victoria Pembroke Davison.