Rick Baker will speak on the rich history of Florida and his newest book, Beyond the Sunshine, A Timeline of Florida’s Past. As mayor of St. Petersburg from 2001-2010, Baker learned that knowledge of our past is critical to ensuring that we make good decisions now. He opens the book with his view of lessons learned from Florida’s past – lessons that should shape the decisions we make now. This is a powerful message for those involved in our incredible state.
Beyond the Sunshine covers 12,000 years of Florida history in an entertaining, fast-pace, approachable manner. It includes over 500 pictures that make Florida’s past come to life and covers from the first humans arriving to last year’s hurricane Irma. A reader can acquire a thorough knowledge of Florida’s history in a one-day read.
As a unique addition for this IHMC talk, Mayor Baker has agreed to also discuss his tremendously successful efforts to redevelop downtown St. Petersburg – as outlined in his second book The Seamless City – along with lessons learned that may help Ocala’s present downtown efforts.
Rick Baker has been a Business Acquisition lawyer, a Law Firm President, a University Vice President and President of a St. Petersburg-based development and entertainment company. Presently he is an advisor and investor in companies involved in urban development and autonomous vehicle technology.
From 2001 to 2010, he served as mayor of St. Petersburg – Florida’s fourth largest city. Under Mayor Baker’s leadership St. Petersburg experienced a renaissance unmatched in city history. In 2008, Mayor Baker was named America’s Mayor/Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. In 2011, Daily Beast Editor in Chief John Avlon named him “America’s greatest mayor of the decade.”
Baker chaired the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, Chaired the Florida Statewide Water Congress, chaired the Florida Governor’s Municipal Mentoring Initiative, vice chaired the Florida Governor’s Energy Action Team, and led in transition teams for the Florida Governor, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.
Baker holds a B.S., MBA, and a Juris Doctor (with honors) from Florida State University where he was Senior Class President. He studied comparative law at Oxford University. He served as legal intern to Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, and law clerk to Governor Bob Graham’s special counsel.
Baker is an adjunct fellow of the Manhattan Institute policy think-tank in New York City. He has authored three books – Mangroves to Major League in 2000, a history of St. Petersburg; The Seamless City in 2011, about city leadership and urban revitalization; and Beyond the Sunshine in 2018 – a timeline history of Florida.
He enjoys music, guitar, weight training, history, public policy and counts as one of his favorite experiences playing and singing with the Marshall Tucker Band on four occasions.