Linda Reneé Baker, PhD

Linda Reneé Baker joined the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on March 18, 2003, after stepping down as the secretary of Illinois Department of Human Services, a post she held for three years.

Her focus at the institute is to expand access to high-quality health care in partnership with the SIU School of Medicine and helping minorities and people with disabilities realize their full potential. She also teaches a course on leadership for SIU Carbondale.

During her career in public service, Baker held increasingly responsible positions in a variety of state agencies. As secretary of the Department of Human Services, she led and managed a comprehensive human services agency with about 20,000 employees and an annual budget of about $5 billion. The agency provided services in the areas of community health and prevention, mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities and vocational rehabilitation. The agency also directed and implemented the state's nationally recognized welfare reform efforts.

She previously served as director of the Department of Employment Security, assistant director of the Department of Public Aid and as the first African-American legislative liaison for an Illinois governor.

Baker earned a PhD in public administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2004. She also holds a bachelor's and master's degree in gerontology and health-care administration and public administration from that institution.

She and her husband, G. Ronald Roby, are parents of two children.