In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 14, 2022

Voices of Mayo: Brian Baker on importance of education, mentorship, belonging at Mayo

By In the Loop
Brian Baker

During Black History Month, Mayo Clinic is sharing the experiences of Black colleagues and their thoughts on creating a culture of empathy, support and belonging at Mayo Clinic. This "Voices of Mayo" column features Brian A. Baker, a manager in Campus Planning, Projects and Operations at Mayo Clinic in Florida.


"Voices of Mayo" highlights Mayo staff and their stories, exploring their diverse backgrounds, the challenges they face, the opportunities they have been given, and their experiences at Mayo Clinic.

During Black History Month, Mayo Clinic is sharing the experiences and challenges of Black colleagues, and their thoughts on creating a culture of empathy, support and belonging at Mayo Clinic.

Brian A. Baker has lived most of his life in Jacksonville, Florida. But if you had asked him a few years ago about Mayo Clinic, he says his response would have been, "What's Mayo Clinic?" That's because Baker grew up in a predominantly Black neighborhood on the west side of Jacksonville with few ties to the ZIP code where Mayo Clinic in Florida is located.

Baker, a manager in Campus Planning, Projects and Operations at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares his perspective on the importance of education, mentorship and finding belonging at Mayo Clinic.


I grew up in a predominately Black, lower-middle-class neighborhood on the west side. My childhood home is a 25-minute drive away from the Mayo Clinic in Florida campus, with no traffic. For grades K–6, most of the students I went to school with were Black. My life changed when I started seventh grade at Stanton College Preparatory School. Most of the students at the school were white. It was the first time in my life that I felt like a minority.

A couple of years after graduating from Stanton, I enlisted into the U.S. Army and served for eight years. My military occupational specialty was internment/resettlement specialist. I primarily worked at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After five years, I was reassigned to the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion to serve at the Reseda recruiting station in California's San Fernando Valley.

I was honorably discharged in May 2007 and returned home to start my civilian life. I joined Mayo Clinic as a contracted security officer in July 2007.

If someone would've asked me in April 2007 about Mayo Clinic, my response would've been simple: "What's Mayo Clinic?" Mayo Clinic in Florida is in ZIP code 32224. Only 8.9% of the people living in this ZIP code identify as Black or African American.

My parents were born in the 1950s, when overt racism and discrimination were prevalent in the South. Looking back, I can see why they may have felt uncomfortable traveling to that side of town.

I worked in Security for nearly seven years. During that time, I went back to school to obtain my first master's degree in management and leadership from Webster University. I was able to transition into the role of a manager in General Services after graduation.

I managed General Services for nearly seven years. During that time, I went back to school to obtain my MBA from the University of Florida. I transitioned into my current role as a manager in Campus Planning, Projects and Operations two months after graduation.

During my time at Mayo Clinic, I've had great mentors who have guided me along the way. They've encouraged me to exhibit excellence and professionalism. They've stressed the importance of community, fellowship and reaching back to help the next generation.

I would not be where I am today without them. I'm so thankful to have such wonderful people in my life. They're the reason why I'm passionate about mentoring others and making a difference in their lives.

Have I felt like an outsider at times? Absolutely. It's not uncommon for me to be the only Black person in a meeting. I tell myself in those moments: "I belong in the room. My voice matters." I embrace the responsibility to show people that Black excellence is not the exception, but rather the norm. I want to prove that a Black person is fully capable of succeeding when given the opportunity.

I believe it's necessary to volunteer my time and energy to bring about change within our organization. I've served as co-chair of the Florida African Descendants Mayo Employee Resource Group. I serve as vice chair of the Florida Soar (Veterans) MERG. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

As a MERG leader, I've had the opportunity to raise awareness about issues affecting people of color and veterans within our organization. These MERGs have given me the platform to show leadership abilities that stretch well beyond my day job. I strongly encourage everyone to join a MERG and actively participate.

My parents didn't graduate from college. But they stressed the importance of getting an education. It's why I proudly display my education credentials on my Mayo Clinic access identification card and email signature. It's why I proudly look at my diploma on the wall above my desk. I am the living embodiment of what my parents dreamed about when they drank out of "colored" water fountains and sat at the back of the buses.

I'm passionate about equity, inclusion and diversity because my parents weren't afforded equitable treatment and opportunities. Their experiences have provided me with the fuel to push for fairness and equality for people who wish to pursue their dreams.

Change doesn't happen simply because I want things to change. Change happens when I embrace being a change agent. So I push forward to ensure that more people like me know the answer to the question, "What's Mayo Clinic?"


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Tags: Brian A. Baker, Employee Stories, Voices of Mayo

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