Faculty Profile: Lisa Baker

  • Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
Lisa Baker, Ph.D. brings deep experience as a psychologist, organizational consultant,Lisa Baker and mindfulness teacher into her classes in the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program.
Tell us about what you teach, and why?
Throughout my educational and work experiences as a psychologist, as well as in my work as a social justice advocate, I have been deeply interested in ways that we can impact systems to support, vitalize, and energize each other, as well as ways we pull each other down and feel beat up and demoralized by oppressive systems, which can lead to burnout, alienation, and even complete disengagement in work that was once so rewarding and meaningful.
When I was beginning to feel this sense of isolation and compassion fatigue myself many years ago in the work to which I was very committed, I started practicing mindfulness and connecting with others who also sensed a profound need for greater compassion and care for ourselves and each other in this work, as well as for our earth.
In 'Introduction to Mindful Leadership and Advanced Mindfulness at Work, which I have been teaching since Spring 2016, learning is experiential. In these classes, we learn by both doing and “being,” in class and outside of class. This includes mindfulness exercises, reflection, inquiry, dialogue, and deep listening practices. Students explore and dialogue about leadership and organizational change frameworks and practices in the context of their own work and interests. I try to teach students to develop a deepening awareness of their impact on others and on systems, as well as how to better align ways of being and doing with values.

What do you value about working with students?
I value the opportunity to work with students and community members who seek to make a positive impact on the world in the many different ways in which they are engaging.
What do you want to instill in them?
I would like to offer students the opportunity to gain deep awareness that THEY matter, they make an impact, no matter their title or field of study or work, and to explore broadly and deeply ways to make a positive impact on self, others, systems, and the earth. Each day we have the opportunity to “wake up” to ourselves and the world around us and through this awareness and clarity we can be more creative and compassionate.
What are the main challenges you think mindfulness practice helps us address as social innovators and sustainability leaders?
Mindfulness can help us have greater awareness, clarity, creativity, and compassion, qualities that are essential for creating diverse, inclusive, and collaborative teams and organizations. To pick a particularity cogent example, mindfulness can help us become more aware of our own biases and tendencies to mistrust and “other” people who are different from us, especially in times of uncertainty.
What else would you like to share?
I have two daughters and a dog and a partner who works nationally on state level political issues. I have lived in Colorado, Texas, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York City, and finally Madison. During these journeys, as a psychologist, I have had the opportunity to bear witness to the depths of human suffering and to instances of incredible resilience and triumph over hardship. I have worked with combat veterans from WWII to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with survivors of interpersonal violence and childhood trauma, with individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and others who have faced tremendous life challenges. I hold each of them, their stories and lives, in my heart. I am pleased and honored that my journey has lead me to this opportunity to teach and create programming in collaboration with committed, innovative, and caring people in the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program, and its wonderful network of current and past students and community members.