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Shine Board Member Profile: Robert Baker

As part of an ongoing series, we want to introduce you to the Shine Global family and especially our outstanding and hard working board members who help move Shine forward.

Name: Robert Baker
Joined Shine Board of Directors: 2005
Title: Chief, Office of Political Programming, Federal Communications Commission
Current Role at Shine: Member of the Board of Directors

Born and raised in Washington D.C. where I met Marla, my wife of 47 years, together raised our two daughters, attended Georgetown Law School, and began my first career as a communications attorney.   Detoured from the law to a career in the music business and spent some intensely interesting years managing recording artists.  Met Shine’s future Co-founders Albie and Susan during that misspent youth, and all of us became the very best of friends for over forty years and counting.  Returned to relative calm at the FCC where I head the staff of attorneys dealing with all political advertising issues in radio and television broadcasting, cable television, and satellites.  Enjoy extensive travel around the country speaking about political advertising issues on behalf of the FCC.  Proudest moment in my career was the national Federal Communications Bar Association’s singular yearly Award for Excellence in Government Service, a lifetime achievement recognition from my peers throughout the country.  Prior to joining the Shine Global Board as a founding member in 2005, I sat on the Boards of The New Playwrights Theater in DC and the District of Columbia Arts Center.

Why did you join Shine’s board and why have you stayed on for several years?

When Albie & Susan began describing their vision for Shine over dinner in NYC, and told us about their idea for documenting a story about the horrors of child soldiers in Uganda, the basis for Shine’s first film, War Dance, I wanted to be a part of the experience by joining with them on what promised to be an amazing and fulfilling journey.  Nothing in my work life has been quite so thrilling and rewarding as my association with Shine and its ascendency to great heights in presenting films and doing outreach about the bold spirit and resiliency of children faced with and overcoming extraordinary challenges.  Our friendship with Albie & Susan and their level of passion, vision, boundless energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm, is inspirational and motivates me to continue my involvement with Shine.

What’s a favorite Shine moment for you?

Sitting with Albie & Susan in the packed audience at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2007, we waited nervously for the premier screening of Shine’s War Dance.  The audience remained still as the story unfolded making it difficult for us to gauge just how well the film was being received.  Then came a moment in the film when a pervading sense of danger is felt as village boys walk through the tall brush.  It is unexpectedly interrupted by a touching moment of humor when the boys at the end of their walk playfully jump into a river laughing — the audience erupted with joyous laughter in union with the boys.   We knew at that moment that War Dance had captured the audience completely.  A close second occurred at the end of that screening when the audience jumped to its feet for a rousing standing ovation.

What is a Shine challenge that you feel supporters should know about?

There is a common thread that runs through all non-profit Boards — finding the funds and resources to operate at a sustainable level.  For Shine, this is compounded by its remarkable evolving success with the number of potential projects growing and the relative increase in the costs of operation.  Shine has a new film, Liyana, premiering at the LA Film festival later this month, with several other important projects in varying stages of development.   Couple increasing film production and development with Shine’s successful outreach to school educational programs and you have a recipe for expanding need.   For our existing supporters, we need to keep reinforcing the importance of supporting our mission.  We do that through our bi-monthly newsletters, our yearly gala in NYC, and, of course, continuing to present only high quality documentaries.  In less than twelve years Shine has produced an amazing array of films telling compelling stories about children from all over the world.   At a time when funding for the arts is imperiled by political forces, we must continue to find new and innovative ways to garner support for our projects.  I ask supporters to consider how important it is to tell stories to inspire us at a time when there is a movement in our country to diminish the artistic communities ability to inspire for change.

See the full list of Shine’s Board of Directors Members and Board of Governors Members here and read the first five profiles of board members Dario Spina here, Keith Brown here, Kay Sarlin Wright here, Marilyn DeLuca here, Al Cattabiani here, Bill MacArthur here, and Don Melnick here.

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