Woman to Watch: Cassandra Q. Butts


Born: Brooklyn, NY (moved to Durham, NC at age 9)

Education: B.A. Political Science from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and graduate of Harvard Law School.

Occupation: Senior Advisor to the Millennium Challenge Corporation, appointed by President Obama.

Obama Connection: First met President Obama while standing in line in the financial aid office at Harvard. She still has his constitutional law book, which she seized as hostage back in college when she lent him a Miles Davis/John Coltrane album that he has yet to return.

About the MCC: The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the US Congress in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results. MCC forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries and provides them with large-scale grants to fund country-led solutions for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth. MCC grants complement other U.S. and international development programs.

Career Journey: Cassandra has 17 years’ experience in politics and policy. She was formerly the Deputy White House Counsel for the Obama administration where she focused on judicial nominations. Cassandra was also the general counsel to the Obama-Biden Transition Project. She also served as the Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining CAP, she was a senior advisor to House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-MO) where she worked on refugee, asylum and immigration issues and served as the policy director on his 2004 presidential campaign. Ms. Butts also served as director of Senator Obama’s Senate transition in 2004-2005.  Previously, she was an Assistant Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and also served as Legislative Counsel to Senator Harris L. Wofford (D-PA).

Fun Facts: Cassandra is a car enthusiast and currently drives a sterling gray BMW Z3 coupe, of which only just a handful was made. During her college years at UNC Chapel Hill, she protested apartheid. Cassandra is also a big fan of Carolina basketball.

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