Dr. Neal Baer, who joined the AJWS Board of Trustees in October 2016, is a pediatrician and television writer who combines his passion for medicine and storytelling to challenge audiences’ views on a spectrum of social and political topics. Prior to his work as Executive Producer and Showrunner for Under the Dome, Dr. Baer was Executive Producer and Showrunner of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for 11 seasons. The series received six Emmys and a Golden Globe for acting. Prior to SVU, Dr. Baer was Writer and Producer of the NBC hit series ER for its first seven seasons, where he received five Emmy nominations as a producer and two for writing.
Recently, Dr. Baer produced If You Build It, a documentary chronicling high school students in the poorest county in North Carolina who build a farmers market to save their community, which aired on PBS in June and September 2015 and won the Christopher Award. Dr. Baer also produced Home Is Where You Find It, a documentary that aired on PBS in January 2016 and depicted the journey of a Mozambican teenager searching for a home after his parents died of AIDS.
Dr. Baer attended Colorado College, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science, and Harvard University, where he received master’s degrees in education and sociology and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He also attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles as a directing fellow. Dr. Baer joined the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health as a research scientist in 2013 and is now an adjunct professor. There, he established the Global Media Center for Social Impact (GMI), where he currently is working on projects using new media to promote health initiatives around the world.
Dr. Baer’s latest project at GMI is ActionLab.org, a web-based social networking platform that bridges the gap between inspiration and action. After individuals see a documentary, read a book, or attend a museum exhibition, they can take actions related to themes raised by artistic or academic works. Most recently, ActionLab was designed for the book Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)—by Marion Nestle with an afterword by Neal Baer—winner of the James Beard Award, which provides actions readers can take to decrease soda consumption at home, in their communities and in their schools. His latest ActionLab project was an immersive museum exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles inspired by the book A Path Appears by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This exhibit provided steps visitors could take to make a difference in the world after they explored 50 evidence-based projects that are improving lives around the world. In addition, Dr. Baer is a Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and lectures around the world on the power of storytelling to change lives.
His second novel, Kill Again, co-written with Jonathan Greene, was published in July 2015. Dr. Baer lives in Los Angeles. He is a trustee of Colorado College and the American Film Institute and serves on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School. His son, Caleb, is a student at Williams College in Massachusetts.