Throughout the past year, the University of Colorado athletic department has been focused on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
On Tuesday, CU took a major step in that initiative by hiring DaWon Baker as the department’s first-ever associate athletic director for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Baker, who will start his new role May 1, comes to CU from Nebraska, where he has been the athletic department’s diversity and inclusion director since 2018. A 2015 graduate of Missouri, he worked as a postgraduate intern at the NCAA in the leadership development department.
“I am excited to get to Boulder with my family and contribute my all to CU athletics,” Baker said in a press release from CU. “My interest in CU grew much before the role, as I attended the Inclusive Sports Summit and came away impressed in the vision, detail, and commitment to inclusion that was on display. I saw this role as a natural progression to not just be a more inclusive athletic department and campus, but to be a national leader in this space. What excites me most is the opportunity to build on the foundation that has been laid, with the creativity to build this into a premier leader in college athletics.”
Baker, a St. Louis, Mo., native who was a track and field athlete at Missouri, served as life skills coach for football, rifle, and men’s gymnastics at Nebraska. He helped athletes with career and personal development, as well as leadership.
Baker, who earned a master’s degree from Central Florida in 2016, said the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr., on Aug. 9, 2014, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., fueled his interest and passion for DEI.
“My senior year of college was 2014, and the shooting of Michael Brown served as a major turning point in my career and personal life,” Baker said. “I saw how the tragic event of Michael’s death affected the world, and I saw how it affected my own campus and saw that the need for an inclusive environment was a necessity to create the best environment for staff, faculty, and students on campus and beyond. For the first time, I saw that there was a strategy to creating inclusive cultures, and that drove me to learn about diversity and inclusion in sport.”
Baker’s experience includes being an advisory board member for Return on Inclusion and an advisory committee member for the Winning Edge Leadership Academy.
“I am excited that someone with the qualifications and experience that DaWon has will be leading our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for our department,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “I am impressed with what he has accomplished in something that has become a growing profession nationally. He has really invested himself in it and will bring a lot of passion to this role. I am looking forward to what he will accomplish at CU.”