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2019 Honors Shakti Butler, PhD

Shakti Butler, PhD, filmmaker and Founder and Creative Director of World Trust, is a dynamic educator in the field of racial equity.  She engages her audience with participatory keynotes and seminars, often using clips from her groundbreaking documentaries. 

Dr. Butler is a multiracial African American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) whose work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades and has served as a catalyst for change.

Butler is the producer and director of the acclaimed documentaries, “The Way Home,” “Light in the Shadows,” “Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible,” and “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity” which uses interviews, story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural and systemic racial inequity. Her newest film, released in January 2018, is “Healing Justice,” exploring questions about justice — What is justice, really? Why is healing such an important component of justice? How can we work towards a vibrant future where belonging, not othering, is the norm? — and asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of our current system of justice. Designed to support dialogue, this film is ideal for use in a variety of sectors – education, judicial, law enforcement, philanthropy, government, and nonprofit.

Dr. Butler is an inspirational facilitator, trainer and lecturer. Her work emerges from years of self-exploration and her commitment to social justice. Dr. Butler’s services are sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith-based institutions.

Dr. Butler invites her audience to grapple with both the intellectual and emotional complexities of race. She conveys the interconnection between internal and external/structural components of racial inequity, and reveals how self-perpetuating systems reinforce disparities in institutions. This framing, along with the use of Butler’s films, set the context for constructive conversation. Dr. Butler inspires a collective will and develops deeper, cohesive understanding that can be directly applied to analysis and action.

A warm and compassionate person, Butler uses her ability to listen deeply while asking critical questions that support self-directed learning in others. Her speaking and teaching styles enrich people’s abilities to move toward expanded capacities for building community, an important first step in effecting change.Group dialogue, self-inquiry, reflection and whole body learning by participants are some of the strategies she employs.

Dr. Butler received her doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in the School of Transformative Learning and Change. She holds an MA in Guidance and Counseling from Bank Street College of New York and graduated Magna Cum Laude from City College of New York.