LANHAM — Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III was appointed to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) Board of Directors on July 8.
“I am honored to be selected to the UMMS Board,” Baker tweeted on July 8. “Thank you, Senate President Mike Miller, for your faith in me. Will work with fellow board members and UMMS leadership to rebuild the trust and integrity of this valuable institution to our state’s health and economy.”
Baker was appointed by Maryland Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-27) in a letter to UMMS Board Chair James DiPaula that day. In the letter, Miller said that Baker would be an asset to the medical system due to his experience and work ethic.
“I am pleased to appoint former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III as the Senate appointee to the Board of Directors of the University of Maryland Medical System,” Miller said in his letter. “Former Executive Baker is well-versed in healthcare, and his reputation of hard work and ethical behavior is known throughout the state.”
Baker served as county executive in Prince George’s County from 2010 to 2018.
During that time, he helped bring to fruition many accomplishments in the county, some of which include bringing in the MGM National Harbor and laying the foundation for the upcoming Capital Region Medical Center set to open in Largo in 2021.
He was also responsible for implementing programs such as the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative and the Economic Development Incentive Fund.
In addition to being county executive, Baker served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1994 to 2003. He ran for governor of Maryland in 2018 but lost in the primaries. Baker has been a member of the American Bar Association and the Maryland Bar Association, the Maryland chapter of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union from 2002-2004.
He was given the National Leadership Award in Public Service from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and was named the Most Innovative Executive of the Year for Minority Business by the Maryland-Washington Minority Contractors’ Association, both in 2012.
Baker’s appointment to the UMMS Board of Directors is part of an overhaul of the Board following a series of incidents of wrongdoing, which allegedly involved in questionable financial dealings from board members.
Back in April, Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation that removed the members of the board involved in the incidents, barred no-bid contracts for UMMS board members and required a full, independent audit.
Hogan signed the bill into law alongside Miller and newly elected House Speaker Adrienne Jones on April 18.
In June, Hogan announced the appointment of 11 new members to the UMMS Board of Directors who were expected to take on their new positions starting July 1.
“Bipartisan reforms to fix the problems at UMMS were a good first step, but I said that—still—more needed to be done,” Hogan said. “I pledged that I would appoint new board members who will serve with integrity and accountability, and today, I am delivering on that promise. This is another critical step as UMMS works to restore public trust.”
Among the new board members that Baker will be joining are American Red Cross Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Elisa Basnight, Physician Joyce Johnson and Joseph Ciotola Jr., the health officer of Queen Anne’s County Department of Health and medical director for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services. Matthew Clark, Hogan’s chief of staff, will serve as his designee.
Miller concluded his letter to the UMMS board chair with the sentiment that Baker’s appointment to the board will be a step forward after the chaotic time UMMS has endured.
“Former Executive Baker is aware of his appointment and has agreed to serve. I am confident that his leadership and contributions will benefit the system and the entire state as we put this ugly chapter behind us.”
UMMS expressed in a statement their excitement in continuing their relationship with Baker due to his experience and forward-thinking mindset.
“The University of Maryland Medical System has a longstanding relationship with Rushern Baker. Mr. Baker’s insight and experience will make an immediate and valuable difference to the Board, and to those that depend on the System and its mission. We look forward to working with Mr. Baker and the many new members of the Board.”