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Donna M. Butts
Donna Butts is the Executive Director of Generations United, a position she has held since 1997. For more than 35 years, Butts has worked tirelessly to promote the well-being of children, youth and older adults through nonprofit organizations across the country and around the world. She began her career in her home state of Oregon as a youth worker with the YWCA, where she worked one-on-one with teens and saw the positive effects of intergenerational programs firsthand.

Butts has held leadership positions with Covenant House, a New York-based international youth serving organization, and the National 4-H Council. She served as the Executive Director for the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention before taking the helm of Generations United.

An internationally sought-after speaker, author and advocate, Butts frequently speaks on intergenerational connections, grandparents raising grandchildren and policies effective across the lifespan. Her commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. She has been interviewed on the TODAY Show, National Public Radio and ABC News, and was invited by the United Nations to sit on four expert panels most recently on intergenerational solidarity.

Butts was named to the Nonprofit Times 2012 and 2013 Power and Influence Top 50. In 2004, she was honored with the National Council on Aging's Jack Ossofsky for Leadership, Creativity, and Innovation in Programs and Services for Older Persons. She served as a 2005 delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. A respected author, she has written countless articles, chapters and publications regarding the welfare of children, youth and older adults.

Butts received her undergraduate degree from Marylhurst College and is a graduate of Stanford University’s Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. She is a former chair of the board of the International Consortium of Intergenerational Programmes (ICIP) and serves on the board of the National Human Services Assembly.

Entries by Donna M. Butts

White House Conference on Aging -- Tear Down those Walls

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 4:55 PM

In 1987 referring to the Berlin wall, President Ronald Regan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

Almost 30 years later, walls are again a hot topic. Only today some think the more impenetrable, the better. Walls designed to keep out...

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To Grandma's House We Go... and Stay

(100) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 2:41 PM


She was six years old when she left home on her bike with a suitcase she packed with clothes and another filled with toys.

To grandma's house she went.

But this was no picnic. And the big, bad wolf? He was a...

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Black or White? Let's Talk About Gray

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 10:17 AM

Kevin Costner has taken on race in his new movie Back or White. But really it's about family.

What he's done is shine a light on the changing face of families in America and reminded us of what's important.

Eloise. It's about a little girl who needs what all children...

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Are You Fearless Enough to Be an Elder?

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 4:32 PM


Margaret Mead would have been enthused about last week's White House convening on investing in early childhood.

She would have also been perplexed. Why did the organizers ignore the famous anthropologist's clarion call?

Mead, who was born 113 years ago today,...

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Home for the Holidays with a Grand Family

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 10:25 AM

It's hard to go home for the holidays when you've bounced from bed to bed never finding a permanent family.

That's what happens to kids like Andreah.

When she was 8 her mother's drug addiction forced her grandparents to tell their daughter she needed to move out. It...

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Katniss Everdeen Isn't the Only Hero Fighting for Her Family

(1) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 9:23 PM

Co-authored by Jatrice Martel Gaiter, Executive Vice President, Volunteers of America

Mockingjay Part One, the next installment of The Hunger Games franchise, opened just in time for Thanksgiving.

Katniss Evergeen wanted to protect her little sister, so she volunteered to take her place as a Tribute in the...

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Grandparents, Grand Votes

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 9:20 AM

Kofi Anan once said, "No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime." These processes are never more evident than when elections come around. With lawn signs, TV ads, phone calls and more, it's a...

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Happy Grandparents Day, Nana New Face

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2014 | 11:15 AM

Yes, as it's been widely reported, Joan Rivers loved to make people laugh.

But she had another love that was even stronger: the roles she relished the most as mother and grandmother.

She combined these loves when she said, "My grandson calls me Grammy and sometimes calls me...

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America Is Stronger When Children Live in Families

(1) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 4:52 PM

This post is co-authored with Joe Kroll and Irene Clements.

There wasn't a dry eye in the Today Show audience last Friday when Demille Cole-Heard paid tribute to his grandfather -- the man he said showed him how to be a man. He testified saying of the man who...

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Modern Family Relationships Support a Strong America

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 3:24 PM

Phil Dunphy, Modern Family's "cool dad" said, never be afraid to reach for the stars because even if you fall, you'll always be wearing a parentchute.

He's right. A parachute is a cloth canopy filled with air that allows an attached person to descend slowly enough to make a safe...

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Mr.Rogers Got It: Generations Are Stronger Together

(2) Comments | Posted March 20, 2014 | 1:28 PM

This post was co-authored by Dr. Sally Newman, founder of Generations Together at the University of Pittsburgh and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. She was Fred Rogers's neighbor.

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

A generation grew up eagerly looking forward to those words every...

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Patience Is a Virtue: How to Make up to 76 Percent More in Retirement

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 11:48 AM

Co-authored by Virginia Reno

Patience is a virtue. In the case of Social Security, it can also translate to a higher retirement benefit.

Up to 76 percent higher.

A new toolkit, When to Take Social Security: It Pays to Wait , released today by the National Academy of...

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Young and Old Take on King's Unfinished Mission

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2014 | 12:16 PM

No one told Martin Luther King Jr. he was too young to change the world.

Even without the aid of today's digital tools, he led a movement when he was 26. Young and old joined his causes, marching together for social justice and economic equality. Today, ordinary citizens are...

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Out of Many, One: Uniting the Changing Faces of America

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 2:11 PM

Co-authored with Hilary Pennington, director of the Generations Initiative & Vice President of the Ford Foundation.

Nelson Mandela was a great man who embodied the African concept of Ubuntu. Originally a Zulu term meaning unity, Ubuntu closely mirrors our country's powerful founding narrative: E Pluribus Unum, "out of many,...

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A Kinder, Gentler World for Our Veterans

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2013 | 10:52 AM

Over four decades ago, Led Zeppelin first sang, "...a new day will dawn for those who stand long,/and the forest will echo with laughter." While the true meaning of the lyrics can be debated, what does ring true is the way in which our troops are now welcomed home and...

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International Day of Older Persons Opportunity or Obstacles?

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 2:36 PM

"I am not useful anymore." This heartbreaking statement by an elder in China concluded a recent news article on fraying families and changing cultures in a world growing older each day.
It's true, societies are aging. But along with this change comes tremendous opportunity... and many obstacles....

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It Takes a Family to Raise Education Achievements

(1) Comments | Posted September 17, 2013 | 9:33 AM

The key to fixing our broken educational system may live in your extra room or next door --grandparents.

As we celebrate Grandparents Day, to us it's no coincidence that it's the same time as the beginning of the school year. Grandparents are here to help...

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Fifty Years Later: Children and Youth Still Waiting to Live the Dream

(4) Comments | Posted August 23, 2013 | 3:57 PM

"Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children."

It's been 50 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King voiced those words as he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington. If only that part of the...

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International Youth Day - It's as Easy as ABC

(2) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 9:22 AM

He was 16-years-old when he told me, "I've been volunteering since I was six-months-old and now I drive myself." As a baby, his mother would take him to nursing homes so the residents could hold him. Now as a teenager, he drives himself to visit his older friends filling a...

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Rally4Babies? If We Don't, Who Will?

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 2:11 PM

Want to do something really important, that will have a real impact, and cost you nothing except lending your voice? Then join Soledad O'Brien, Kathleen Sebelius, Arne Duncan, Jennifer Garner and Alma Powell this afternoon for the Rally4Babies: Learning Happens Right from the Start. You don't even need...

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