Neal Baer is probably most well known as the Executive Producer behind a stream of television hits including ER, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and most recently, A Gifted Man. However, Baer believes his most crowning achievement is his commitment to creating social change.
At the podium, Baer empowers audiences with the ability to inspire social change through storytelling. His experience in film, television, books and medicine has given him the opportunity to evoke change and positively affect the lives of others. Baer’s messages, shared all over the world, have allowed countless others the ability to use their own stories to make the world a better place. Audiences will be deeply affected, compassionate and most importantly, motivated to continue Baer’s work helping others.
Baer graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles. He received the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Scholarship from the American Medical Association as the most outstanding medical student who has contributed to promoting a better understanding of medicine in the media. The American Association for the Advancement of Science selected him as a Mass Media Fellow.
Today, in addition to his “day job” at A Gifted Man, Baer focuses his efforts utilizing his gift of storytelling to change the world. In 2012 he will be launching a new social network called actionlab.org, which connects people with similar interests so they can help their communities together.
He is also producing a documentary called Studio H which follows the progression of designer and author of Design Revolution (a book that Baer says changed his life) Emily Pilloton’s non-profit program. Pilloton created a high school design/build curriculum that benefits the rural community of Bertie County in North Carolina, the poorest and most rural county in the state.
His novel Kill Switch, released in December 2011, is a heart-pounding glimpse into the world of forensic psychiatry; a combination of murder, mystery, and modern forensics that will keep readers turning the pages to the final shocking conclusion. Baer has already agreed to serve as screenwriter for the upcoming movie version of the book.
Baer’s primary medical interests are in adolescent health. He has written extensively for teens on health issues for Scholastic Magazine, covering such topics as teen pregnancy, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, and nutrition. He taught elementary school in Colorado and also worked as a research associate at USC Medical School, where he focused on drug and alcohol abuse prevention. Recently, Baer co-established the Institute for Photographic Empowerment at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications, which links photographic story-telling projects around the world and makes that work available to NGOs and policymakers. He has worked in South Africa and Mozambique since 2006, teaching photography to mothers with HIV and to AIDS orphans so that they can tell the world their own stories. Baer also produced the documentary short, Home Is Where You Find It, directed by Alcides Soares, a 17-year-old Mozambican AIDS orphan, which chronicles one young man’s search to find a family after his parents have died of AIDS. The film has screened internationally at 60 festivals and has won four awards for best documentary.
Baer graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from Colorado College. He holds master’s degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education and from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Sociology. Before working in television, he spent a year at the American Film Institute as a directing fellow. In 2000, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Colorado College.
Baer serves on the boards of many organizations related to health care, including the Venice Family Clinic (the largest free clinic in the U.S.), RAND Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Children Now, and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) to name a few. He is also Co-Chair of the CDC and Gates Foundation-supported, Hollywood, Health and Society, and a trustee of Colorado College.
Baer received the Valentine Davies Award in 2004 from the Writers Guild of America for “public service efforts in both the entertainment industry and the community at large, bringing dignity to and raising the standard for writers everywhere.” He has received the Special Individual Achievement Award from the Media Project; the Leadership Award from NOFAS; the Loop Award from Lupus LA for educating the public about lupus and autoimmune diseases; the Socially Responsible Medicine Award from Physicians for Social Responsibility for “accomplishment in crafting compelling health messages;” and the Feminist Majority Foundation for promoting global woman’s rights on television. In addition, he has received seven Emmy Award nominations; five for producing and two for writing, along with two Writers Guild nominations for best television drama writing.
Neal Baer lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Gerrie Smith, and his son Caleb, who attends Williams College.