(March 20, 2023) – The Micronutrient Forum, a global platform dedicated to improving micronutrient health worldwide, is pleased to announce it has appointed Shawn K. Baker as the Vice-Chair of its Board of Directors. Baker is currently the Chief Program Officer at Helen Keller Intl, a global organization that partners with communities to overcome longstanding cycles of poverty by providing the essential building blocks of good health, sound nutrition, and clear vision, helping millions of people create lasting change in their own lives.
Recent evidence published in the Lancet Global Health shows that more than half of the world’s children and over two-thirds of women are suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, leading to detrimental impacts to their health and wellbeing. These numbers will likely increase as conflicts, climate change, and protracted crises strain global food systems.
Baker’s appointment as Vice-Chair strengthens and amplifies the collective efforts of the Forum and Helen Keller in combatting micronutrient malnutrition worldwide. His extensive global experience, expertise, and contributions to the field of micronutrient nutrition will help advance the Forum’s mission.
Baker has more than 35 years of experience in global public health and nutrition, including 19 years at Helen Keller Intl and 30 years living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Before joining Helen Keller as Chief Program Officer, he served as the inaugural Chief Nutritionist for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where he oversaw the Agency’s vision and strategy to address malnutrition in low-income countries. In addition, Baker served as the first Director of Nutrition at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The Micronutrient Forum will benefit tremendously from Shawn’s leadership, strategic insights, and knowledge, which will help us to advance on our mission to a world where all women, children, and families have sufficient micronutrients for their health and well-being,” said Dr. Saskia Osendarp, Executive Director of the Micronutrient Forum. “Additionally, his Board membership will further strengthen the already good relationship between the Forum and Helen Keller Intl.”
“Shawn’s depth of experiences, perspective and fantastic coalition building skills are particularly important to the Forum, an organization that seeks to inform, to dialogue, and to reach consensus on programs that reduce malnutrition in LMICs.” said Dr. Howarth Bouis, Chair of the Micronutrient Forum’s Board of Directors. “Shawn has worked on the ground implementing nutrition interventions in Africa and Asia. He has served in high-level management positions for major nutrition donors that make the difficult decisions as to which programs to fund. He knows the international community and is well-known and respected by the community and those in related sectors.”
“I’m honored to be appointed Vice-Chair of the Micronutrient Forum’s Board of Directors,” said Baker. “The latest evidence shows painfully the burden of deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals on women and children around the world. At the same time, we have ever better knowledge of how to solve these deficiencies and bring the benefits of good nutrition to people who need it the most, even in the face of compounding crises. The Micronutrient Forum represents the evidence-based collective efforts that are needed to drive change.”
While at USAID, Baker chaired the Agency’s Nutrition Leadership Council and oversaw the strategy for the Agency’s Center for Nutrition in the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. At Helen Keller, he held roles including Niger Country Director, Bangladesh Country Director, and Vice President and Regional Director for Africa. Baker also spent nine years with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
In addition to the Forum’s Board of Directors, Baker has served as the Chair of the Technical Review Panel for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis; the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and Special Advisor; Board Member for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; and is currently Co-Chair of the Stakeholder Group of the Global Nutrition Report. He was awarded the Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite du Niger by the Presidency of the Republic in 2001. Baker has a Master of Public Health from Tulane University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Miami.