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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Calvin Butts III
Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III is pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York and President of SUNY College at Old Westbury. Dr. Butts earned a BA in Philosophy from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He also holds a Master of Divinity Degree in Church History from Union Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry Degree in Church and Public Policy from Drew University.
Rev. Butts’s church leadership began in 1987, following upon the leadership of powerful pastors Samuel Proctor and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Committed to a progressive and social activist agenda, the church becomes a base for community transformation. Butts has placed particular focus on homelessness, community health, voting rights, self-empowerment, and youth culture. Additionally, Butts has brought attention to negative advertising that debases women and has been critical of rap music.
In 1989, Rev. Butts formed the non-profit Abyssianian Development Corporation (ADC), which has grown in assets from $50,000 to over $300 million. The ADC has built housing in Harlem, developed a supermarket, started a middle and high school, participated in a health expo to bring attention to chronic disease, and supported community hospitals.
As president of SUNY College at Old Westbuy since 1999, Butts is committed to creating a diverse public college that prepares students for leadership in a global marketplace. Founded in 1965, the college has over 3,300 students from the US and twenty foreign countries. Butts has also instructed courses at City College, New York, and Fordham University. He is a sought-after speaker who has given lectures at many academic institutions and organizations.
Butts' board affiliations include the Council of Churches of the City of New York (President), North General Hospital (Chairman of the Board), United Way of NYC (Vice-Chair of Board), National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (Chairman of the Board), and many others. He has served as President of Africare NYC. Additionally, Butts furthered his community outreach by assisting in the establishment of the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change as well as the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, which opened in 2005.