Paul Manuel Aviles Baker

BakerPaul Manuel Aviles Baker, 68, on December 14, 2023, after a brief medical emergency, in the presence of his husband, Mike Bell Baker; brother, Philip Baker; and sister, Patricia Baker Kegel, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Paul was born on September 2, 1955, in Washington, D.C., to Bruce A. Baker and Dolores Manuel Aviles Baker, the oldest of three children. His family regularly attended an Episcopalian church where he enjoyed singing in the choir. In a moving story of his spiritual journey recorded at Atlanta (Ga.) Meeting in 2010, Paul observed, “Religion and spirituality have always been a part of my life. I came from a family of seekers on both sides.”

Paul graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., with a degree in zoology, and worked as an environmental scientist, in real estate, and as a publisher, before assuming academic roles at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and Saint Mary’s College of Maryland. He joined the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1999 as a visiting assistant professor, teaching research design for the policy sciences, and American government. His degrees, five in all, ranged from zoology to theology with his doctorate in public policy.

At Georgia Tech, Paul worked at the Center for Advanced Communications Policy for more than 20 years and played an important part in the center’s growth and operations. He was also senior director of research and strategic innovation and chief operating officer of the Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things Technologies.

Paul was active in domestic and international research covering accessible technologies, social media innovation diffusion, workforce inclusion, and applied usability research. His transdisciplinary research resulted in new insights into public policy, improvements in the lives of people with disabilities, and the professional growth of all who collaborated with him.

While living in Washington, D.C., Paul was drawn to a Quaker meeting when he learned that they accepted and celebrated marriages of gay and lesbian Friends. He began attending Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.) in 1992, becoming a member in 1996. After moving to Atlanta to teach at Georgia Tech, he continued exploring questions of spirituality and religion, earning a master’s degree at Emory University and attending Atlanta Meeting.

During his presentation at Atlanta Meeting in 2010, while describing the questions and diverse paths on his spiritual journey, Paul recounted a personally challenging time at the meeting. He recalled, “I was sitting there and that small voice kind of said, ‘Sometimes meeting is for you, and sometimes you are for meeting.’ I realized at that point that I just needed to be patient.” Later in his talk, Paul described how listening to a homeless woman speak during a meeting for worship led him to serve on the Care and Counsel Committee.

Paul transferred his meeting membership to Atlanta in 2013 and served in many ways. He created the meeting’s first Facebook page, and, as a member of the Ministry and Worship Committee, led a forum on theological diversity. Paul also attended Peachtree Meeting in Norcross, Ga., and practiced meditation at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.

Paul was a beloved member of the Board of Friends Publishing Corporation from 2010 to 2019.

Paul was predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his husband, Mike Bell Baker; one sister, Patricia Baker Kegel (Mark); one brother, Philip Baker (Julia); and four nieces and nephews.

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