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Cedrick Baker, chief of staff for St. Paul Public Schools, is leaving the state's second-largest district to assume a key advisory post for the McKnight Foundation.

As the foundation's new chief of staff, Baker is expected to work closely with McKnight president Tonya Allen in the pursuit of an "equitable and sustainable future," Allen said in a news release this week.

The move comes four years after Baker, then the St. Paul school board administrator, was tapped by Superintendent Joe Gothard to serve as his chief of staff. Baker then began work on a new district strategic plan, SPPS Achieves, that made middle school improvements a priority, among other goals.

Baker also oversaw efforts to tighten a long-range facilities plan overridden with blown cost estimates. More recently, he provided a steady hand as the district worked through the twists and turns of its response to the pandemic.

In the foundation's announcement, Baker described McKnight as "a credible leader that is working to influence important and complex issues in our society" and said that he was eager to work with his new colleagues to build a "more just and creative future."

Before working for the school district, Baker served as an equity manager and audit team leader at the Metropolitan Council. It was during that time when the St. Paul school board appointed him as an interim board member — a seat Baker held for a few months in 2016.

He begins his new job on May 16.