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…
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 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:
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.
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:
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.