Cassandra Q. Butts, Obama law school classmate and advisor, passes away at 50

Cassandra Q. Butts, who was President Obama s schoolmate at Harvard Law School and a longtime member of the president’s inner circle who encouraged him throughout his political profession and functioned as a deputy White House counsel, died May 25 at her home in Washington. She was 50.

1sdShe sought medical attention early recently, when she began feeling ill. She passed away prior to learning that she had been diagnosed with severe leukemia, her household said. Ms. Butts fulfilled the future president in 1988, when they were submitting financial-aid forms throughout their very first days at Harvard Law School. They had a shared interest in jazz and stayed close friends throughout law school and in later years.


In addition to Valerie Jarrett, Susan E. Rice and others, Ms. Butts was sometimes referred to as one of the Sisterhood of female advisors specifically close to the president and first girl Michelle Obama.

In a statement, the Obamas stated Ms. Butts was always pushing, always doing her part to advance the causes of chance, civil rights, advancement, and democracy. Cassandra was somebody who put her hands directly on that arc of the ethical universe, and never ever stopped doing whatever she could to flex it to justice.

During their three years together at Harvard Law School, Ms. Butts and Obama often hung around simply sitting around and speaking about how we were going to alter the world, she informed the Chicago Tribune in 2007. How do you take this thing we’re learning in law school and make a difference on the issues that we care about?

She was among the classmates who motivated Obama to run for president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. He became the very first African American to hold the position.

In order to release the Law Review and to be efficient in his term as president, Ms. Butts told PBS s Frontline program in 2008, he had to determine ways to make it work and the best ways to make both sides interact, which implied that he wasn’t always going to side with his progressive associates. It is Barack s natural disposition to reach across the aisle.

After graduating from law school in 1991, Ms. Butts was legislative counsel to Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), then dealt with civil rights policy with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.1b

She went back to Capitol Hill in 1996 as a top consultant to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), who was House minority leader at the time. She assisted vet judicial candidates and functioned as counsel for the House Democratic Policy Committee throughout the 1998 impeachment hearings on President Bill Clinton.


In 2004, when Obama was chosen to the Senate, Ms. Butts helped hire his staff and organize his office. During his governmental run 4 years later, she was among several former classmates who aided with his project. After he was chosen, she was basic counsel to the Obama shift group and later on functioned as deputy White House counsel.

He didn’t have a nationwide network of people who he might call on, Ms. Butts informed Politico in 2008. The Harvard group was helpful on that front helping him make introductions on policy, political and financial fronts.

Ms. Butts was reportedly a vital behind-the-scenes figure during the election process of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009.

In November 2009, Ms. Butts became a senior consultant at the Millennium Challenge Corp., an independent government agency that develops suggestions on U.S. foreign help to developing nations.

She was nominated by Obama in February 2014 to be U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. Beyond a committee hearing, the Senate failed to act to confirm her to the post.

Cassandra Quin Butts was born Aug. 10, 1965, in Brooklyn. She was 9 when her family relocated to Durham, N.C. Her dad was a business owner, her mom an accountant.

She finished from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987, then worked as a scientist for African News Service in Durham before going to law school.

In 2000, Ms. Butts was an observer in the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections. She was a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, from 2004 to 2008.

For the previous 2 years, while awaiting verification as ambassador to the Bahamas, she functioned as a consultant to the United States Mission to the United Nations.


Survivors include her mother, Mae A. Karim of Durham; her dad, Charles Norman Butts of New York City; and a sibling, Deidra Abbott of Severna Park, Md.

I’ve constantly been confident in Barack s capability, Ms. Butts stated in 2008, describing Obama’s preparation for the presidency. As well as after law school, I remember telling a few individuals that, you understand, I understand this guy who is exceptionally talented and might be the first African American president of the United States.

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