Raised in Appalachian West Virginia, and inspired by her mother’s belief in the power of education, Nancy Baker rose above the roots of poverty and into an academic career. Dr. Baker earned a PhD from Tulane University in 1989, joined New Mexico State University that same year, and authored numerous scholarly works about law and government in the United States, including two non-fiction titles on the office of U.S. Attorney General –– Conflicting Loyalties: Law and Politics in the Attorney General’s Office, 1789-1990, and General Ashcroft: Attorney at War. A Professor Emeritus with multiple academic honors, including two national teaching awards, Dr. Baker is a recipient of the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Dr. Baker helped establish “Hacienda del Sol,” a shelter for women and children located on the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus. Although the non-profit organization struggled financially and eventually closed in 2006, its history remains an important blueprint of the competing demands necessary to fund and maintain the day-to-day operational growth of homeless shelter services.
A 2004 Internet Archive post from MVCH’s then homepage shares Hacienda del Sol’s mission statement, which read:
Assist families and women to become stable and self-sufficient by providing housing, support and guidance in a positive environment that promotes lasting change.
In support of higher education for non-traditional women, Dr. Baker created the “Over the Rainbow” scholarship, a Spring-Board fund with Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. In 2015, to increase awareness and outreach efforts for those experiencing homelessness, Dr. Baker became a Development Committee member with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
Now a retired Mystery novelist writing under the name N.V. Baker, the book Vanished was published in 2016.
Dr. Baker concludes the following highlight clip with thoughtful insight about unsheltered men in Las Cruces, and the eventual creation of Camp Hope.
Hope Stories 05 –– 1h 35m duration. Recorded 15 June 2018 at NMSU Public History Seminar Room, Breland Hall 258.