About Zoe Eliot Baird

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Zoë Baird joined the Markle Foundation as its president in 1998, after a diverse career as a prominent lawyer and public policy expert. At the start of her tenure, as the Internet was poised to become mainstream, she and the Board of Directors redirected Markle’s mission to focusing on realizing the potential of information technology to address previously intractable public problems, for the health and security of all Americans. Ms. Baird’s experience in law, government, and business, along with a lifelong commitment to building a strong and fair nation for generations to come, has led Markle to drive transformative change in the areas of Internet Policy, National Security, and Health.

Ms. Baird deeply believes in the collective power of diverse leaders working together, and in her first years at Markle she developed initial collaborations to expand access to the Internet in developing countries and worked to ensure public representation in global Internet governance processes. Markle created for the G-8 Heads of State the Digital Opportunity Task (DOT) Force, the first multi-sector collaboration that included nonprofit leaders with business and government, and inspired similar multisector collaborations at the United Nations. Over the past decade, Ms. Baird has led Markle’s collaborative efforts to reform the intelligence community to meet current threats and catalyze improvements in the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Markle collaborative recommendations have been embodied in law to create a trusted information sharing environment for national security, while protecting traditional civil liberties,1 and to enable the use of health IT for the private and secure sharing of health information to improve health and health care.2 She is currently leading the development of a new Initiative to find opportunities for renewal of the American Dream in a networked world by leveraging technology and advancing public and private leadership and individual action.

Prior Career
Early in her career, Ms. Baird clerked for U.S. District Judge Albert C. Wollenberg (1977–1978) and worked as Attorney-Advisor, at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel (1979–1980), where she wrote legal opinions for the Attorney General and the head of that office on the constitutionality of government actions or on conflicts between agencies. There she came to the attention of the Counsel to the President, Lloyd Cutler, who brought her over to the White House as Associate Counsel to President Jimmy Carter (1980–1981). In this role, Ms. Baird advised the President on national security matters such as U.S. exports of enriched uranium to India and the release of hostages from Iran, as well as on certain domestic policy issues. Following the White House, in 1981, she joined O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., where she worked on a diverse portfolio of Supreme Court cases and international trade matters. She left her partnership at O’Melveny in 1986 when hired by Jack Welch to join the GE legal department, where she was Counselor and Staff Executive and in that capacity handled critical legal matters and management of the department (1986–1990), as well as participating in the recruitment of new in-house counsel from the best private law firms.

Ms. Baird served as Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Aetna Life & Casualty Company (1992–1996). Ms. Baird left her executive management role at GE for the task of leading a large legal department and being part of the Chairman and CEO’s management team during a challenging time in the insurance industry. During this time, Ms. Baird was President Clinton’s initial nominee for United States Attorney General (1993). Following her tenure at Aetna Life & Casualty Company, she served as Senior Research Associate & Senior Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School (1997).

Throughout her career, Ms. Baird was an active volunteer with non-profit organizations and worked on a number of congressional, senatorial and presidential campaigns.

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How Has The American Dream Evolved?

How Has The American Dream Evolved?

July 4, 2014 with

Markle Foundation President talks about the American Dream, how it has evolved, and the root reason why it may seem unattainable for some

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