Valparisa J. Baker, a native Floridian, serves as director of the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) and the Title IX Coordinator at Polk State College. Employed with the College since 1988, she has served as a program manager of Office Systems Administration, a coordinator of academic advising, an academic/special needs advisor, and a careers and employment coordinator/program specialist for New Beginnings.
Baker has a master’s degree in Higher Education from National-Louis University, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and an associate’s degree from Polk State College. She has received numerous citations and awards from area organizations.
Among her many accomplishments, Baker is extremely proud of serving as the director of the ELITE Educational Leadership Enhancement Program, which has been in existence at Polk State since 2007. ELITE represents Exceptional Leaders with Innovative Talents and Excellence. She is also the co-founder of the Multicultural Diversity Partnership and a graduate of Leadership Polk-Class V. She is very active in civic groups and serves on numerous boards, including the Florence Villa Community Development Center, Girls, Inc.-Lakeland, and the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. In the past, she has served as a board member for the Business Leadership Network, Habitat for Humanity-East Polk County, Live Oak Academy Juvenile Detention Center, and the Minority Achievement Committee. She is a founding member of the Polk County Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW) and a graduate of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Winter Haven-Class XX. In addition, she served as the 2006 president of the Polk State College Chapter of the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) (formerly known as the Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC).
Baker’s favorite books are Mika Brzezinski’s Knowing Your Value, and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by Dr. John Maxwell. She has a strong passion for diversity and inclusion. She states, “The better we mirror and know the community we serve, the stronger our educational institution will be.” The OED motto is Diversity is the uniqueness in “U.”
She and her husband, Rev. Derrick L. Baker, have two children: D. Stephen and Marquitta L. Carter (Joseph), and two grandsons: Gavin Elijah and Malachi Joseph Carter.