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Sarah Christa Butts, MSW

Executive Director,
Grand Challenges for Social Work
University of Maryland School of Social Work

butts-sarah-christamf1Sarah Butts was 9 years old when her father was killed in a motorcycle accident. After his death, she said, she and her two younger siblings were raised in Baltimore by a caring single mother who also struggled with drug addiction.

“From an early age, I was exposed to inequality, segregation and poverty, which inspired a deep commitment to and passion for social justice,” Butts said. “My experiences ultimately inspired me to study social work.”

Butts was the first administrator of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare from 2013 to 2017, and was named executive director of Grand Challenges for Social Work in January 2017.

“The grand challenges are really for society,” Butts said. “The 12 Challenges are a call to action to address some of our most vexing, interrelated and large-scale problems – violence, substance abuse, environmental degradation, injustice, isolation and inequality.”

Butts earned a bachelor’s of social work degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a master’s of social work degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She is studying now for a doctorate in public policy at UMBC.

Butts is also the chair of the UM SSW Homeless Council, which urges education and training to help the homeless population, and she has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and United Way Homeless Connect.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to influence social work education, policy, and practice,” she said. “I believe in giving back, so I support, guide, and mentor others as leaders have done for me. My career is about service and helping people, families and communities to be healthy and thrive.”

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