Zoë Baird

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Zoë Baird
Personal details
Born (1952-06-20) June 20, 1952 (age 63)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of California,

Zoë Eliot Baird (born June 20, 1952) is an American lawyer who is president of the Markle Foundation. She is known for her role in the Nannygate matter of 1993, which arose when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to be Attorney General of the United States but withdrew her nomination when it was discovered she had hired illegal immigrants and failed to pay taxes.[1] In the last 15 years, she has led the Markle Foundation which has worked primarily through task forces to achieve broad laws that modernize sectors like health care and the national security community.[2][3][4][5]

Education and career[edit]

Baird earned an A.B. with a joint degree in political science and communications and public policy, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1974 from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a J.D. in 1977 from the Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley. Baird clerked for U.S. District Judge Albert C. Wollenberg from 1977 to 1978 and worked as Attorney-Advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979 to 1980. She was Associate Counsel to President of the United States Jimmy Carter from 1980 to 1981.

Baird was a partner at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, Washington, DC from 1981 to 1986. She was counselor and staff executive at General Electric from 1986 to 1990. Baird was senior vice president and general counsel of Aetna from 1992 to 1996.[6] In 1997, she served as senior research associate & senior visiting scholar at Yale Law School where she worked on the growth of terrorism.

Baird was Bill Clinton's first unsuccessful nominee for United States Attorney General in 1993.[7] Baird withdrew her name from consideration for the position when it was learned that she had informed President Clinton that she and her husband had hired illegal immigrants to serve as her chauffeur and nanny, and neglected to pay their social security taxes. Her husband has filed sponsorship papers at the time and sought the advice of counsel on paying taxes. She paid $2,900 in fines for the infractions.[8] The matter, dubbed "Nannygate," attracted intense public attention, and the question "Do you have a Zoë Baird problem?" became frequently asked of other political appointees, including subsequent candidates for Attorney General.[9]

President Clinton subsequently appointed Baird to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) (1994 – 2000),[10] the Commission on Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community (1995)[11] and the G-8 Digital Opportunity Task (DOT) Force (2000-2002).[12] In 1997, Baird served on the Department of Defense, Defense Science Board, Summer Study on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as the New York Panel for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appointed Baird to the Department of Defense Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee (TAPAC) (2003-2004). Baird was also a member of the National Security Agency Advisory Board Cyber Awareness and Response Panel (2010 – 2011).

Baird has served as president of the Markle Foundation since 1998.[13] Baird served on the G-8 heads of state DOT Force, which created a roadmap for developing countries’ adoption of information technology, investments of development assistance, and resources to help avoid a digital divide and to get information technology into the hands of citizens in developing countries.[14] Baird was also a member of the Global Digital Opportunity Initiative that supported the DOT Force.[15]

Under Baird’s leadership in the early 2000s, Markle focused on increasing non-profit and developing country participation in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet’s first official governance body, and making that body more accountable to all users of the Internet.[16]

In 2006, Markle released the Markle Connecting for Health Common Framework for Private and Secure Health Information Exchange.[17]

Baird and former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale served as co-chairs of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. Task Force recommendations informed the 9/11 Commission Report[18] and were enacted through executive order and legislation, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and the Protect America Act of 2007.[19]

Along with Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer Howard Schultz, Baird serves as the co-chair for the Markle Initiative for America's Economic Future in a Networked World.[20] Baird serves on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Chubb Corporation[21] and Boston Properties[22] She founded Lawyers for Children America, which represents abused and neglected children.[23] She is a member of the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group[24] and the Aspen Institute Strategy Group,[25] an Advisory Board Member for the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law at the Salzburg Global Seminar, Honorary Trustee of the Brookings Institution and a member of its nominating committee,[26] and Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[27]

Businessweek named her one of the “50 Top Women in Business”,[28] she was included as a “Silicon Alley Reporter 100”,[29] was recipient of the “Federal Computer Week Eagle Award”,[30] was a “World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow”,[31] and the inspiration for the Wendy Wasserstein Broadway play An American Daughter.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Baird was married to Yale Law School professor Paul Gewirtz from 1986 to 2008 and the couple had two sons. Her eldest son, Julian Baird Gewirtz, a Harvard senior, received a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 2012.[33] Baird married William Budinger in 2010.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wallis, Claudia (2/22/93). "The Lessons of Nannygate." TIME
  2. ^ Leadership Timeline. Markle Foundation
  3. ^ Prepared Statement of James X. Dempsey Executive Director Center for Democracy & Technology before the House Committee on Government Reform, 3/10/11
  4. ^ Testimony on Behalf of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, 3/10/11
  5. ^ Publication & Briefs (6/26/09), Comments on the Office of the National Coordinator's Preliminary Definition of 'Meaningful Use, Markle Foundation.
  6. ^ Legal Affairs (12/22/91)"Zoë Baird's Briefcase is Brimming with Ideas.", Bloomberg Businessweek
  7. ^ Johnston, David(1/13/93) "Clinton's Choice for Justice Dept. Hired Illegal Aliens for Household." The New York Times
  8. ^ Krauss, Clifford (1993-01-17). "THE NEW PRESIDENCY: Justice Department; Nominee Pays Fine for Hiring of Illegal Aliens". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Noble, Barbara Presley (July 3, 1994). "At Work: Solving the Zoe Baird Problem". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ White House.PFIAB Members.
  11. ^ The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2/2/95). "Statement by the President Naming Members of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community."
  12. ^ The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (11/22/00). "Today, President Clinton Announced that Zoë Baird, Carly Fiorina, and Thomas Kalil Will Serve as the U.S. Representatives to the Digital Opportunity Task Force".
  13. ^ News & Events (6/3/97). Zoë Baird to Assume Presidency of Markle Foundation Markle Foundation, retrieved 8/22/11
  14. ^ G-8 “DOT Force” to Confront Divide ABC News.
  15. ^ Frederick S. Tipson and Claudia Fritelli, Global Digital Opportunities: National Strategies of ICT for Development, Markle Foundation, December 2003
  16. ^ Markle to Fund Programs for Net Users, Los Angeles Times, 11/3/99
  17. ^ What is Markle Framework? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  18. ^ Prepared Statement of James X. Dempsey Executive DirectorCenter for Democracy & Technology before the House Committee on Government Reform, 8/3/04
  19. ^ Testimony on Behalf of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, 3/10/11
  20. ^ http://www.markle.org/national-security/economic-security-initiative
  21. ^ Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Board of Directors.
  22. ^ Boston Properties. Board of Directors.
  23. ^ Lawyers for Children America. About Lawyers for Children America, Our Board of Directors.
  24. ^ The Aspen Institute, Homeland Security Program. Zoë Baird Budinger
  25. ^ The Aspen Institute, Strategy Group, Zoë Baird Budinger
  26. ^ Brookings Institution. (3/10/98). “Zoe Baird and Steven Rattner Join Board of Trustees”.
  27. ^ Council on Foreign Relations Membership Roster.
  28. ^ “50 Top Women in Business”, Bloomberg Businessweek, Accessed January 15, 2013, http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1992-06-07/50-top-women-in-business.
  29. ^ “The Silicon Alley Reporter 100: 10 Years Later, Where Are They Now?”, Betabeat, accessed January 15, 2013, http://betabeat.com/2011/03/silicon-alley-where-are-they-now/sa-39/.
  30. ^ “Eagle Awards Go to Baird, Brinkley”, Government Health IT. Accessed on January 16, 2013.
  31. ^ “The Global Leaders of Tomorrow Community”, World Economic Forum, Accessed on January 15, 2013, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GLT_ClassOf1993.pdf.
  32. ^ “Wasserstein’s American Daughter Opens April 13”, Playbill.com, Accessed on January 15, 2013, http://www.playbill.com/news/article/33617-Wassersteins-American-Daughter-Opens-April-13.
  33. ^ Haar, Dan (2012-11-19), Son of Zoë Baird, from Hamden, Wins Rhodes Scholarship. CTNow.com, 11/19/12
  34. ^ Zoë Baird. Markle Foundation