North Haven resident Joseph “Joe” Baker has worked for non-profit entities for the majority of his career, saying it’s satisfying knowing what he’s doing makes a difference, and was recently named chief financial officer (CFO) for Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
“The reason I wanted to work in non-profits was to put my energies toward making a difference for people,” Joe says.
Joe has handled numerous aspects of running a non-profit, including finance, administrative work, fundraising, development, and community organizing.
As CFO, Joe’s duties include managing finances and investments for the foundation. The foundation serves 23 towns and cities in Fairfield County, and has more than 600 charitable funds that it manages for donors.
“A community foundation does many different things to help people in the communities it serves,” Joe says.
A fund Joe talked about was the organization’s Fund for Women & Girls. An annual luncheon over the years has raised more than $5 million that has been invested in sustainable solutions leading to economically secure and healthy women and girls throughout Fairfield County. The keynote speaker at the luncheon next year (April 5, 2018) will be former professional tennis player and social justice advocate Billie Jean King.
“We’ve had a lot of well-known people supporting that,” Joe says.
Proceeds from the 2018 luncheon will benefit the Family Economic Security Program, a program in conjunction with Housatonic Community College that helps women and heads of household receive support to complete their associate’s degrees. In addition to scholarship support, the program also offers coaching to help those individuals change their lives.
Joe says his role is to make sure that the millions of dollars in contributions, grant making, other activities and investments are managed “the way you’d expect charitable funds to be managed.”
“In this new role, my goal is to help the foundation grow by developing new revenue opportunities and helping us to be more effective in channeling our resources and donor resources to have a larger impact in our communities,” Joe says.
He says it’s very exciting being a part of all the charitable things the foundation does, adding that there are several committed staff and volunteers all around it.
“We have a clear sense of how we’re trying to make a difference and inspire people, and we’re going all-out to do that,” Joe says.
Some of the charities Fairfield County’s Community Foundation supports also serve North Haven, one of them being the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA. Having worked around Connecticut in different jobs, Joe says there’s a lot of crossovers when it comes to helping charities serve people.
It’s not just with non-profits that Joe helps out communities, he also teaches Sunday school at his church, the Unitarian Society of New Haven. Last year he taught 6th and 7th graders, and this year he’s teaching 4th and 5th graders.
“I enjoy teaching Sunday school because it’s exciting to engage the children in learning and exploring and asking questions, and so I view my main job as making each session interesting for them,” Joe says.
In town, someone might see Joe at the library, as he says that’s his favorite place in North Haven. He says he’s been going there with his three children, and now his granddaughter, since he moved to town.
“It’s such a gift to be able to borrow as many books as you want and to be able to explore so many things, and they’re so active and friendly in helping and developing programs for the kids,” Joe says.
Having been in North Haven for about 20 years, Joe says the community is warm and friendly with down-to-earth people. He says he also sees good motivations across business, government, and social services.
“Many of the people I’ve met are just there to serve and do the best they can,” Joe says.