MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Speaker Series: Carol Baker | March 11, 2011

Each Friday, the MHB program hosts an industry pro with insight into career opportunities, marketplace trends and new ideas who engages students for two hours of class time. On March 4th, 2011, the speaker series featured Ms. Carol Baker, the Director of Public Policy at First 5 LA, a child-advocacy organization with offices across Los Angeles County.

Ms. Baker started her presentation by explaining the ideology and financial structure behind First 5. As for sustaining the group, California citizens voted to invest tobacco tax revenues (about 50 cents per pack) in programs for improving the first 5 years of life for children in Los Angeles County. Since 1998, they have invested more than $699 million into programs to promote the health, education and safety of young children and families. Meanwhile, the main pillars which First 5 LA focuses on are as follows: lowering infant mortality rates, increasing healthy eating, keeping children safe from child abuse and neglect and making sure they are fully prepared for kindergarten by the time school starts.

Ms. Baker explained how early investment is important in order to mitigate any learning or developmental challenges that a child may face later in life. She discussed how she uses the area of public policy to advocate legislation which helps First 5 achieve its goals. Explaining her work in public policy as “PR for politics,” she described how vital it is that she’s always aware of the differences in opinion among her audience. She must work to find common ground between Democrats and Republicans, older and younger generations, and impoverished and affluent individuals in order to emphasize the greater purpose of her organization: to help create healthier and happier kids and to increase their potential for a productive and rewarding future.

Continue reading for more about First 5 LA, including news about a possible budgetary issue with direct implications for the group.


Head here to read about statewide budget cuts concerning First 5, a controversial legislative undertaking that will reduce early childhood funding to make up for California’s massive deficit. For a list of programs and partners that would be affected by such a move, head here and here, respectively. You can find more about Ms. Baker’s role in her organization here.

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