Freeman Leadership

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Paula Baker

President and Chief Executive Officer

Paula Baker is President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Health System, providing vision and direction for the three-hospital, 460-bed health system headquartered in Joplin, Missouri. Paula previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Ozark Center, Freeman’s behavioral health division, where she was the guiding force behind the development of Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. She continues to provide executive leadership for the autism program.

Honors include the Missouri Hospital Association Visionary Leadership Award; Joplin Citizen of the Year; Pittsburg State University Outstanding Alumni; Pittsburg State University Meritorious Achievement Award; Making a Difference to Women Award; 2008 Women of Distinction; Hero in Healthcare Award; Ten Most Influential Women; recognition by the Missouri House of Representatives for distinguished leadership in behavioral healthcare and designated as 2014 PAC Champion for Missouri Hospital Association Southwest District. Most recently, she received the Grassroots Champion Award from the American Hospital Association. 

Additionally, Paula was appointed to the Task Force for Examining Statewide Medicaid Delivery Models, the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board and the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. She serves on the Pittsburg State University Foundation Board of Trustees and on the boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, Arvest Bank, Connect-2-Culture, Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative Advisory Council, Landmark Hospital – Joplin, Missouri Hospital Association, Healthcare Services Group, Vizient Mid-America and Mid-America Service Solutions, LLC.

Paula holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s in clinical psychology from Pittsburg State University.