Dr. Baez’s social work career began very early. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, her family moved to the Bronx when Dr. Baez was very young. She lived in an apartment building where many of her neighbors were Holocaust survivors.
“I noticed they had tattooed numbers on their arms,” recalled Dr. Baez.
She spent time with the survivors, many of whom lost all their relatives in the Holocaust.
“I can’t explain to you the impact that it had on me as a child,” she said. “I couldn’t believe humans could treat each other that way. It formed my desire for a world that was more just. They were my foundation.”
In high school, Dr. Baez studied Jewish literature and found particular resonance in Night by Elie Wiesel and The Diary of Anne Frank. “At that age," she said, "you’re just a sponge for literature that can help you form who you become.”
After high school, Dr. Baez attended Pace University, where she earned a bachelor’s in psychology. She worked at the Bronx State Psychiatric Hospital and later at the Little Flower Children Services, a foster care agency, before pursuing a master’s at Hunter College School of Social Work (the Silberman School of Social Work). After graduation, her social work career began at the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, where she provided clinical services to children and their families. Dr. Baez's insatiable appetite for learning continued at the New York University (NYU) School of Social Work, where she earned her doctoral degree in clinical social work.
Dr. Baez's career has been a testament to both her abilities and her commitment to social work. As a clinical social worker, Dr. Baez provided individual, family and group psychotherapy at such agencies as the Madeleine Borg clinic of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in the Bronx and the Hispanic Clinic at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and Western Queens Consultation Center. She was the Director of the Diagnostic Center at Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial, a diagnostic residential trauma center for young children in foster care, where she provided developmental therapy to children with a history of childhood abuse.
Dr. Baez has also worked clinically and administratively at the City University of New York (CUNY), serving as Director of the Counseling Center at Lehman College, as well as Associate Dean of Student Support Services and Interim Director of Psychological Services at Bronx Community College. Feeling that her extensive clinical and administrative experience could be better utilized as a faculty member, she joined Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work in 2014.
“We’re teaching our students to be social workers who embody the values and ethics of our profession,” said Dr. Baez. “I love that Touro’s mission—serving the underserved—is similar to the mission of social work.”
She credited her social work training for her success as a teacher.
“Social justice is more than attending a protest or signing a petition."
“I’m here to serve others,” Dr. Baez said. “My values are everything. The values and ethics of my profession are a part of who I am. I treat my students in a way that they will then treat others—with love, compassion and respect.”
“Social justice is more than attending a protest or signing a petition," concluded Dr. Baez. "Social justice is created in everything we do.”