Geoffrey Baum, who helped launch the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) and served as its managing director, has been named a senior policy fellow, CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan announced today.
Baum, whose career has included senior positions in journalism, public policy and nonprofit communications and marketing, serves as the director of communications and public affairs for The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. As Senior Policy Fellow, he will focus on ways to address political polarization in our civic discourse and the future of news.
“The vitality of our democracy depends on vibrant, accurate journalism in all its forms,” said Baum. “The transformation of our media landscape has resulted in the contraction of large news organizations while opening up exciting new sources for news and information, giving diverse voices an opportunity to be heard. But the values of objectivity, integrity and service to the public must remain paramount and we must find ways to support and distribute quality reporting that empower individuals and communities to confront the challenges they face today and in the future.”
For the past decade, Baum has helped lead CCLP, generating important research projects and programs in diverse areas such as government and nonprofit support of the news, the role of media in our democracy, communication technology as a tool to combat human trafficking, and the role of women in communication leadership. In addition to his work at USC Annenberg, Baum also provided key leadership to Keck Medicine of USC as Interim Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences Public Relations & Marketing during a sensitive period of transition at the USC Health Sciences campus.
Working with both USC Annenberg deans Geoffrey Cowan and later, Ernest J. Wilson III, Baum played a key role in helping transform the USC Annenberg School as assistant dean and director of public affairs and special events. His creative vision and dedication to advancing the academic reputation of the school through an ambitious program of events, media coverage, branding, printed and online publications, and other activities brought USC Annenberg national and international visibility that dramatically increased applications and philanthropic support.
Since 2010, Baum has also worked at Sunnylands as a member of the senior staff under Cowan, who is the Trust’s inaugural president. Sunnylands is the famed Rancho Mirage, California estate of the late Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg that is now operated as an independent non-profit trust devoted to serving the nation and the world as a venue for high-level meetings for international leaders. Eight U.S. Presidents have visited Sunnylands. Most recently, President Obama convened a summit with the leadership of the 10 member states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was the third international summit meeting he hosted at Sunnylands.
In addition to his work at USC and Sunnylands, Baum is also a major policy maker in California public higher education. He is president of the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges and has helped lead the system during a major period of transformation and reform, which has included the introduction of baccalaureate degrees at the community college level, the streamlining of transfer pathways for community college students to the California State University and the University of California, and a system-wide effort to enhance programs and completion rates for workforce training and basic skills.
A former C-SPAN executive producer, he has also worked for Public Radio’s Marketplace and ABC News. He served as a governing board member of Pasadena City College from 2001 to 2013, including two terms as president. He is a former board member and president of the Pasadena Community Access Corporation, the city-chartered agency that manages the city’s public access cable television station. He is also a member of the nonfiction peer group of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the Association of Community College Trustees.