Meet the Founder

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In the words of founder Dr. Anna M. van Heeckeren herself…

You can check out my professional profile on LinkedIn.

However, if you’re interested in knowing me as a person, read on…

My professional life

I am trained as a biologist, geneticist, and veterinarian.

My first job out of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1993 was in cystic fibrosis research at Case Western Reserve University Department of Pediatric Pulmonology at the School of Medicine. I worked with technicians, research assistants, physicians, PhD professionals, and a handful of veterinarians. We used mouse models of cystic fibrosis lung disease to find better treatments for patients who usually die by the time they are in their late 30′s. A devastating genetic disease to have, and a fascinating disease to study due to the complexity of the impact of the environment and nutrition on the course of their disease. Truly a One Health endeavor. Only, animals aren’t known to get cystic fibrosis.

In my career in cystic fibrosis research, I published many peer-reviewed articles, given many poster and oral presentations across the United States and in Europe, and worked with pharmaceutical companies to test different treatment hopefuls intended to improve the lives of cystic fibrosis patients.

Now my career is solely focused on the One Health Organization as President and CEO. I know that one day my two seemingly different career paths will come full circle. Both cystic fibrosis and preventing the spread of diseases between animals and people involve different species, genetics, germs, nutrition, environments, and host defense mechanisms of the immune system.

My volunteer life

I have volunteered for national and local non-profits that involve veterinarians and animals since 2002. These include the following organizations.
  • American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine Foundation
  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation
  • Safety for Animals and Families in Emergencies
  • One Health Organization (formerly The van Bakeren Foundation)

Involvement in Disaster Preparedness

My first exposure to disaster preparedness was during my volunteer duties with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The importance of infectious diseases became real when I learned that many pets impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had not received adequate veterinary care before the disaster hit. What that led to was a disaster after the natural disaster hit. How? Many pets were infected with diseases that could be spread to other pets, and importantly to unsuspecting people under the right environmental circumstances.  

I am involved in many committees and other groups to prepare the veterinary and/or public health community at the local, state, and national level for disasters as indicated below:

  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation Grants/Awards Committee
  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation Executive Committee 
  • BioWatch at the local, state, and national levels
  • Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Veterinary Emergency Preparedness Committee
  • OVMA Liaison to Ohio Homeland Security District 2
  • Northeast Ohio Public Health Partnership

Speaking Engagements

I love to speak to different audiences and share my passion with others. Below lists my most recent speaking engagements since June 3, 2008 when the organization was incorporated.

Speaking appearances related to my past career in cystic fibrosis research at Case Western Reserve University from 1993 to 2008, and about veterinary-related disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are not mentioned below. 

“About One Health and zoonotic diseases”

Many individuals in Northeast Ohio have hosted speaking events and invited their family members, friends, and colleagues to attend. Audiences were informed about One Health, zoonotic diseases, and ways to keep their One Health Families healthy. These include the following: 

  • Hosted by Dr. Anna M. van Heeckeren, private residence, Gates Mills, OH
  • Hosted by Doris M. van Heeckeren, private residence, Gates Mills, OH
  • Hosted by Stacey Zahoranski, The Eye Opener, Akron, OH 
  • Hosted by Gregory Box, private residence, Hudson, OH
  • Hosted by Sandra Rapp, private residence, Richfield, OH

“Companion Animal Demographics and Pet Ownership in the United States” 

  • BioWatch National Workshop, Tampa, FL  

“Preventing Diseases through One Health”  

  • The Rotary Club of Stow-Munroe Falls, Silver Lake Country Club, Silver Lake, OH  

“Why Start a Non-Profit?”

  • Swedish Culture Society, private residence, Fairview Park, OH

“3UP for 4-H” 

  • Geauga County Feathers and Fleece 4H Club, Burton, OH

“Keeping Pets and Seniors Healthy”  

  • Barton Community Center, Lakewood, OH
  • Knickerbocker Apartments, Bay Village, OH
  • Fedor Manor, Lakewood, OH
  • Chambrel Montrose, Brookdale Senior Living, Akron, OH 

“Moving the World to One Health” 

  • Dover Congregational Church, private residence, Westlake, OH 

“One Health and Vets On Wheels Overview: Volunteer Opportunities” 

  • Embrace Pet Insurance, Beachwood, OH
  • Stautzenberger College, Brecksville, OH

My personal life and the development of my One Health Family

I was born August 9, 1964 in Connecticut and spent my early youth there. First grade was spent in Stockholm, Sweden before heading to Shaker Heights, Ohio from 2nd grade to the middle of 7th grade. My parents then moved to Gates Mills, Ohio and I attended the public school system in Mayfield Heights before heading off for undergraduate school to earn my BS in Biology at the University of Michigan. Finally, I received my MS in Molecular Genetics and DVM from The Ohio State University.

My father is now a retired cardiothoracic surgeon who worked primarily at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, and my mother always had a slew of animals (at the time of this writing dogs, cats, horses, and sheep, but that’s subject to change without notice). Veterinary medicine seemed like a natural fit for me given my parental influences.

I have three siblings. One is a research assistant at Case Western Reserve University in Pediatric Pulmonology, one is a hematology oncology doctor with a PhD at University Hospitals, and another is an artist working at Pins & Needles in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

When I was young and living with Mom and Dad, we had several different kinds of animals. Over the years, Mom had dogs, cats, horses, a donkey, a goat, a llama, rabbits, a variety of birds, guinea pigs, sheep, and I’m sure I’ve left some species out somewhere. But none were “mine” until I went to college.

In college I had a horse (I know- lucky me), one of my Mom’s rabbits, a cat (I left her at Mom and Dad’s due to housing restrictions at college), and a chinchilla.

I have been married to Ned Baker since 1994. He is trained as a geologist and works for EnSafe, an environmental consulting agency based out of Memphis, TN. We have two girls Marta and Elise who are not only beautiful but incredibly intelligent with a bright future.

Now that I’m grown up and living with my husband and children, we have our own pets. Right now we have two cats, two chinchillas, and a fish tank. We used to have a guinea pig, hamsters, rabbits, and water snails, but they died due to various causes- some of old age and some we euthanized for humane reasons.