Before moving to Westchester County, John Baker served in senior roles at two national civil rights organizations, the Equal Rights Center and the National Fair Housing Alliance located in Washington D.C. At these organizations, John was instrumental in developing new methods for identifying barriers to access in housing for persons with disabilities. Through nationwide accessibility survey investigations, identifying and reporting these barriers led directly to over $20 million in retrofitted housing for expanded accessibility, and to the establishment of a $4.2 million fund which supports structural housing modifications to increase access for people with disabilities.
John also developed, sought funding for and implemented a first of its kind civil rights testing investigation involving LGBT seniors. This matched-pair testing study measured levels of potential discrimination faced by same sex couples as they attempted to access senior housing options as compared to their straight counterparts. Conducted in 10 states, the investigation revealed significant levels of differential treatment between same sex couples and their straight counterparts. The study received more than $100,000.00 in private foundation funding and led to a continuing national education and outreach effort to senior housing providers to increase sensitivity and awareness about to LGBT seniors. John has extensive grant writing experience and has participated in many successful federal grant applications that secured significant multiyear grants for programmatic work and education and outreach efforts.
Since, December 2014, John has worked as a consultant at Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote equal affordable and accessible housing opportunities for all residents of Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley region. In May 2015, John accepted the position of Director of WRO’s Senior Housing Program, which provides counseling to seniors on a wide variety of housing related issues such as foreclosure prevention and accessing several different types of housing options for those in need. John will also work to strengthen WRO’s relationships with local Department of Aging and other government offices as well as nonprofit agencies that serve the needs of seniors.
John’s earlier work experience is extensive and varied including marketing, sales and claims resolution functions in the insurance industry. With fond memories, and also where he finely honed his people skills, sense of humor, and diplomacy, John was also a bartender at the Monster in Greenwich Village and Cherry’s in Cherry Grove, Fire Island.
A native of Washington D.C, John moved to Cortlandt Manor in northern Westchester County last year with his partner of six years Alex, so that Alex could pursue a job opportunity in Pharmacy Operations in White Plains.
In his spare time, John is a moderately enthusiastic runner, swimmer and cyclist, though this spring has been more interested in seeing what plants and flowers have come up in the garden. He and Alex are life-long servants to Tenby, Harlow and Sammy, a retired racing greyhound, a jack Russell mix and a Yorkshire terrier puppy respectively.
John has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.S. in organizational development/nonprofit management, both from the University of Maryland.