A devotion to service, community support, and being a source of visibility for the Black queer community has created several professional and personal milestones and opportunities for Steven J. Baines. Today, the 56-year-old image consultant, trainer, and executive coach serves as an advocate and resource at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. With an already stacked calendar of events, Baines still keeps an eye out for the next opportunity to show up and show out on the Island.
“My role at UTMB is senior consultant in talent and organizational development, which is a part of human resources,” Baines explains. “My core function is leadership development. I help train and develop leaders and their teams throughout the organization. That can look like facilitating courses, doing personality assessments, coaching executives, and being an advisor to a lot of the leaders.”
Having obtained an undergraduate degree in communications with a minor in marketing from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Baines went on to earn his master’s degree in intercultural and international management with a concentration in human resources from the School for International Training in Vermont.
The community leader notes that his service projects have landed him some of his most valuable opportunities. “A lot of things have happened for me thanks to volunteering, which is very important to me,” he stresses. “I attribute my development to volunteering and networking and relationship building, and my ability to build relationships and volunteer in various ways. People are the cornerstone of all of those things.
“A lot of this started when I was in the Peace Corps in Bolivia,” Baines recalls. “From there, I went to grad school and then to Malawi for three years. While I was in Southern Africa, I worked for Catholic Relief Services as a program manager for an HIV/AIDS program we had there.”
After returning back home, Baines met Dr. Ian Barrett at a black-tie gala. “Ian was an associate vice president for Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, and he also happened to be Black and gay. We became fast friends, and I told him about this job I applied for in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training. He said he had a job opening at his hospital, so I applied and got the job.”
After Dr. Barrett was recruited to UTMB, he worked tirelessly to convince Baines to join him down on the Island, and was eventually successful in his efforts. “I’ve been in Galveston seven-and-a-half years; I moved here in January of 2015,” Baines notes. He hit the ground running, and his devotion to service landed him on the UTMB President’s Cabinet. “I am currently a member of the Awards Committee. We give money to programs that wouldn’t otherwise get funding, and I play a role in choosing those programs.”
Outside of work and volunteering, Baines became a fixture at Galveston’s Own Farmers Market. He was soon brought on to serve as a volunteer and was eventually persuaded to join their board of directors. “I was told it was only a couple of hours every month, and I agreed because I could handle that scope of work,” he says with a hint of foreshadowing. “I was ultimately elected president.”
At the farmers market, Baines and his team foster a sense of community and inclusion. “We want everyone to feel welcome when they visit. Drag Queen Story Time is just one way that we do that.
“We’ve heard people refer to the Market as their church. We have vendors of all races, ages, and cultural backgrounds. We have music every Sunday and a variety of artists that play for the crowd.” The Access Coastal Care of Texas, one of the Market’s rotating community partners, even offers free HIV and syphilis testing to the community. “We always try to offer things that show the market is an inclusive place to be.”
Having served on various other committees and boards, including Leadership Galveston and ANICO Toastmasters, Baines is committed to making the world a little better for everyone. He operates on the principle that everyone has something to offer their community.
“I believe wherever you live, everybody can add something. I want to make Galveston the best version of a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone,” he concludes. “Representation matters. I don’t want to be the only Black guy in the room. I want others to see me and realize they can do anything they set their minds to, as well.”
Follow Steven J. Baines at stevenjbaines.com.
This article appears in the July 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.