Janet Baker, MBA '85 (Business Administration)

Sac State grad the keeper of county's parks

As director of the county’s regional parks department, Janet Baker has a long-standing history with one of Sac State’s closest neighbors. The American River Parkway, which runs parallel to the campus, is one of the parks in the system she oversees.

“I grew up and played along the American River before it was the Parkway,” the longtime Sacramento resident says of the recreational area, which is nationally recognized and the “jewel” of the county’s park system.

Her team also maintains and operates Ancil Hoffman, Discovery and Riverbend parks and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. The county’s park system also includes open space areas such as Deer Creek Hills, the Cosumnes River Preserve, four golf courses and Gibson Ranch—some 15,000 acres in all.

One of Baker’s goals is to expand and promote the county’s historic ranches, including the Dry Creek and McFarland Ranch Houses.

“The ranch houses are a wonderful way for people to see pioneer life in the Sacramento Region dating back to the late 1800s,” Baker says.

Baker previously worked in radio, television and the governor’s office, but felt her academic background was lacking in the nuts and bolts of business.

“I enrolled in the MBA program at Sac State because I knew it would open doors in different arenas,” she says.

After graduation, she applied for a job with the city’s parks and recreation department and never looked back.

“Although I had no experience in parks and recreation, I believe that the knowledge and skills I gained from my MBA program were instrumental in getting me that first position,” Baker says.

Working in the parks system is not just a job to Baker.

“It’s been my passion now for 23 years,” she says. “There are so many things I love about my job including working with a terrific staff, seeing children enjoy being outdoors and learning about nature, and truly making a difference—Improving the quality of life for Sacramento’s neighborhoods.”

This article was originally published in the Winter 2008 edition of Sac State Magazine.