MEET OUR BOARD PRESIDENT Mike Baker Reveals Why He Dedicates His Volunteer Time To Us Q: What is your background and what do you do for your “day job”? A: I, along with my nine siblings, were raised in Wickford where I still live. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for forty-one years, and we have three children and four grandchildren. I graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1976 as an accounting major and went on to receive my law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1980. While attending law school at night I worked at Citizens Bank for approximately two years and then went on to form a real estate development company. Over the last thirty five years, I have remained self-employed developing and managing residential and commercial real estate. Q: How did you learn about the Brain Injury Association of RI? A: In the early 1990s both my youngest sister and my wife’s brother suffered disabling traumatic brain injuries. I was friendly with Paula O’Connor, who was president of Brain Injury Association of RI (BIARI) at the time. She reached out to our families to provide advice and assistance during their recoveries. This made me very aware of the challenges that survivors, their families and caregivers face. Q: What made you decide to become president of the board? A: In 2001, Paula reached out to me and asked me to join the board. About ten years later, she retired. As the volunteer President of our board, Paula worked nearly full time at the office, as the bookkeeper, advocate, and provided invaluable advice to survivors and their families. So, we had big shoes to fill. As a result, for approximately two years, Colleen McCarthy (current board Vice President) and I shared the position. At that point, the board felt we needed to have one person in charge to meet the challenges that lay ahead. I agreed to take over as President. I accepted this challenge both because of my personal experience of being a family member of a survivor(s), and my experiences as a BIARI board member. Q: What goals do you have for the organization? My short term goal is for us to see results from all the changes we have made over the last two-plus years. I think the building blocks have been put in place for this to happen, and they are: • Bringing Debra on to serve as our Executive Director • Relocating into a new office that is larger, more functional (and cheaper) • Getting new computers, software, phone system • Reorganizing and hiring new staff members • Adding a Survivor Advisory and Development committees • Creating and funding a new endowment fund • Attracting new members to our board Additionally, I feel one of our most important goals is to increase our membership. Over the last ten years, for various reasons, our membership has declined and to survive as an organization we need to reverse this trend. We have gone through a lot of change, which is always challenging, but it is very fulfilling to see new faces involved, and a new energy and excitement throughout our organization. Q: Where do you see BIARI in five years? A: These are very challenging times for nonprofits. Government funding and grants are becoming harder to obtain. Corporate support to nonprofits is very competitive. First, what I hope for is that because of all the changes we have made and the steps we have taken, we will make sure that BIARI still exists in five years. We are a small organization, with a small budget, and a big mission. For us to continue to exist as an independent organization, we cannot be taken for granted. I think we need to be constantly examining our mission and how we accomplish it and continue to change and grow. Second, I hope in five years we are being supported by a more diverse and dependable revenue base, which will allow us through advocacy, awareness and education to reduce the number of brain injuries in Rhode Island. I hope we will provide better and more effective programs and services to support our survivors, their families and their caregivers.
Colleen McCarthy, Vice President
Robert P. Naparstek, MD, FACOEM, Treasurer
Cathy L. Andreozzi, Secretary
Anthony Bruzzese, MD
Nicholas Cioe, Ph.D.
Joanne (Jody) Fazzano
Shelia M. Kane, RN
Carol Masterson, RN
Allendre McGovern-Siembab, MBA, CRMA
Thomas A. Mezzanotte
Lisa M. Tamburini