2003 Beberman Award Winner: Rebecca Ayars Baker

Rebecca Ayars Baker, earned a bachelor's degree and a juris doctorate degree from the University of Illinois and was a member of the 1956 United States Olympic Women's Track Team. Today, she is Secretary of the Board of the National Credit Union Administration, the regulatory agency that oversees federal credit unions and insures the great majority of all credit unions. Prior to her life as a public servant, Becky was a partner in the management consulting firm Baker-Burns & Associates from 1980-1982. During that time, she co-authored and obtained copyrights on management systems for state government and presented the systems to top-level state government managers. From 1978 to 1979, she was president of the Terrace Hill Society and chaired a quasi-state government committee composed of state officials, state legislators and public representatives involved in restoring the Iowa governor's mansion. Becky Ayars Baker has been married for 45 years to Joseph Baker, former Director of Welfare for downstate Illinois, Iowa and Idaho. He then went to Washington, D.C., to work in the federal food stamp program and later with the federal Health and Human Services agency. They are the parents of three grown daughters, Betsy, Mary, and Emily, and two grandchildren, Mia and P.J. In 1956, Rebecca took a semester off from law school to compete on the women's track team in the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. She ended up not actually getting to compete due to an inopportune case of pneumonia. She is one of a 28 local athletes listed on the Champaign Park District Tribute to Olympic Athletes monument located just off Mattis Avenue near Parkland College. Rebecca still enjoys running today and was nominated by her daughters in 2001 to be a torchbearer for the Salt Lake City Olympics. "It meant a lot to me," she said at the time, "because I was selected to carry the torch into the area in front of the Arlington City Hall, where a ceremony to honor the heroes of the Pentagon 9/11 rescue was held." "My torch is special to me because they all held it," she said.

Congratulations Ms. Baker, the 2003 Max Beberman Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

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