Washington, D.C. — Today, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) honors the life of Joseph E. Baker, former Director of Internet Communications, Grassroots Advocacy Director, and Deputy Director of AIUSA’s Western Region. Joe was an important and much-loved part of the AIUSA family.
Joe retired in 2022, reveling in the extraordinary natural beauty of Montana with his wife, Judy Molland. Joe’s life-long journey with Amnesty International began as a student volunteer during his undergraduate years at UCLA. This early dedication to others became a through line that came to include more than 10 years of his professional career as a staff member with AIUSA, where he was a valued colleague, leader and friend to nearly everyone involved in the movement whose work or lives he touched.
Joe was well-known for his passion for human rights and for his commitment not only to the issues, but to building better and more effective ways to advance the cause of human rights around the world. As the onset of the digital age forced adaptation and transformation across every sector, Joe led the efforts to bring human rights activism into the digital space, helping to secure the movement’s transformation from its paper-and-ink roots into a potent digital force with instant global reach.
Joe passed away suddenly and prematurely on April 10, 2023. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, his family, and his friends. His full obituary can be found here.
As news of his passing has reached a widening circle of volunteers, current and former staff, and supporters across the country, among the many thoughtful comments and memories shared, one word appears perhaps more than others in these reflections: mentor.
Joe was a strong, steady presence for all those who encountered him, leading more often by example than by directive, and taking to heart the critical work of investing in those around him with the firm belief that everyone has the potential to learn, grow, and to make a difference.
Joe walked quietly but with unusual grace through this world, and he will be missed by more people than he might have imagined–a reflection of the deep humility, integrity and thoughtfulness that were so much a part of the inspiration others found in him.
AIUSA Executive Director Paul O’Brien issued the following statement, honoring Joseph Baker:
“Losing Joe is a great loss to the AIUSA family. With his engaged, quiet and logical nature, he was skilled in building and motivating teams. He loved being outdoors, swimming, rock climbing, hiking and cycling.
In honor of Joe’s life, we must come together and carry on advocating for key issues that Joe always kept front and center. We celebrate his light, and honor him by continuing to defend human rights unconditionally, speak up to protect individuals at risk, and work to restore a brighter, greener and more just planet.
Our thoughts are with his wife Judy Molland, his family, and our entire AIUSA community.”
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