Baker retires after 17 years guiding Goodwill expansion
Board member Raintree to start in December

       When Robert (“Bob”) Baker became president/ CEO of Colorado Springs' Goodwill Industries in 1991, the operation was a good deal smaller than it is today. The annual revenues were about $5 million; today, they're closer to $30 million. There were 200 employees; there are 900 now (many of them in Goodwill stores, which have themselves increased from six to nine). And, there were just 2 programs helping the disabled, disadvantaged and elderly to find assistance and/or employment, while today there are 20. Bob Baker stands in front of the Memory Wall, listing names of  Goodwill contributors, in the lobby of the Goodwill 
Industries offices at 2320 W. Colorado Ave.
Westside Pioneer photo
       He is especially proud of the latter statistic, because it reflects his long-term goal: “to help people reach the highest possible level of personal independence.”
       Baker, who will retire in December, doesn't seek credit for the Westside-based non-profit's expansion. “It's not because of me,” he said. “I work with great people, and I have an awfully good board with experience in many key areas.”
       Prior to becoming CEO, he himself was a member and one-time chairman of Goodwill's board of directors, as is his replacement, Shawn Raintree, who will be transitioning to the CEO position in November.
       In Baker's case, his prior career had been in banking. A claim to fame, of sorts, was having been “the last president of [the former] Colorado Springs National Bank.” He can laugh about it now, but at the time “it wasn't much fun,” he said. “I got laid off in the bank's third merger. It wasn't community banking as I had known it.”
       Around the same time, 17-year Goodwill CEO Pete Hoke was announcing his retirement. Baker, who had been a board member at that point for six years, “had always been involved with community groups, and one of them was Goodwill,” he said. “I loved its mission and the way it could transform lives.”
       So when the selection process named him as Hoke's replacement, Baker felt ready, he recalled. “It was an opportunity to use my banking skills in combination with the board of directors. It was appealing to me, a chance to work for social good.”
       He still feels the same way. However, at age 66, “it's time,” he said. Carol [his wife] and I have grandchildren to see, and I'd like to play golf and travel. I've seen too many people wait too long to retire. You should do it while you still have your health.”
       Baker was recognized in a recent issue of Working Together, the Goodwill newsletter. “By placing 4,157 people in jobs in 2007, Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs ranked seventh among 184 Goodwills in the U.S. and Canada,” the article states. “In addition, Goodwill is one of the most efficient not-for-profits in the area by using nearly 90 percent of its budget for programs and services. These statistics are attributable to Bob's management style and business acumen.”
       Baker is looking forward to helping Raintree (currently the interim president/CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center) move into the Goodwill position. “He's going to do a good job,” Baker said. “He's experienced in not-for-profit organizations. I think the board made a great choice.”

Westside Pioneer article