We are pleased to announce the 2020 Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Distinguished Alumni Award winner is Ms. Kelly Baker!
Kelly graduated with an MPH in Biostatistics from the Hudson College of Public Health in 1994 and began working at the Oklahoma State Department of Health in Maternal and Child Health. She progressively assumed more responsibility and leadership within the agency, and currently serves as the Vital Records Director and State Registrar – a position she has held since 2006. Kelly has always been a staunch supporter of the College, contributing her valuable time, skills, and knowledge. She assists with teaching as Adjunct Faculty whenever requested, for example teaching about vital records for well over 15 years in several of the department’s required courses. She provides the students with an understanding of the behind the scenes work necessary in Public Health. She has worked with many of our practicum and other students. Moreover, she is always supportive of public health research.
Nationally, Ms. Baker has served as the President of the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), Member-at-Large, Secretary, President Elect, President, Past President from 2010 through 2018. As such she was responsible for leading the most important data collection system in the United States. This is clear evidence of her recognized leadership and of the national recognition of her critical work in the field of public health. Some of Ms. Baker’s success includes making Oklahoma one of the top vital records systems in the US.
She has fought for consistent improvement, fairness, and social justice in vital records, including working with the social security administration to assure appropriate and timely access to resource for the citizens of Oklahoma as both Birth and Death certificates are necessary for this process as well as virtually all activities in our state and country. She has worked with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office to make Oklahoma a leader in accurate disaster reporting, as well as accurate mortality. She has worked with policing services in Oklahoma to assist with missing persons working through important mining of birth and death data in Oklahoma.
One of the most innovative and critical successes in her career was to set up offsite access to birth and death certificates for Oklahoma citizens during a disaster. She arranged for almost immediate access to these documents for the hundreds of individuals who lost their homes including these critical documents necessary for access to resources including banking accounts, insurance resources, and other government resources. The project has been recognized nationally, and has improved the quality of life for those living through these disasters including the horrific tornados we have seen over the last 10 years. She has used this same offsite certification of birth and death in conjunction with law enforcement to assist the homeless population in Oklahoma to receive needed and life-saving resources.
Here are a few excerpts from her nomination letters:
“Ms. Baker has a quiet, unassuming, positive, innovative and extraordinary impact on the often overlooked but perhaps the most important public health data source we have.”
“Kelly has shown extraordinary dedication and leaderships throughout her many years in Public Health.”
“Ms. Baker meets all of the criteria, not just one, of the achievement necessary to make her a Distinguished Alumni of the Hudson College of Public Health. She is clearly dedicated to the improvement and enrichment of the Public Health with her over 25 years of service in Public Health.”
Please help us congratulate Ms. Kelly Baker on this prestigious award.