Charlene Butler - Donor Spotlight

Sarah Kowalevsky - 16 March 2021

Charlene Butler has a passion for learning and supporting her alma mater. Since graduating from the Alberta School of Business MBA program in 2009, Charlene has volunteered her time on the Board of Governors, Alumni Council, and the Senate and has invested in mentoring young entrepreneurs with the Venture Mentoring Service. A philanthropist, she’s given to the University of Alberta every month since she graduated and has committed to leave a legacy at the U of A through her will. We are forever grateful for Charlene’s commitment to the university’s excellence.

Charlene Butler

Charlene is an inspiring, dedicated community member with an outstanding professional resume; she has over 30 year’s experience in the energy, government, non-profit and consulting sectors. On top of her MBA education, she holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Risk Management and Insurance) and a Bachelor of Science (Actuarial Science), a Chemical Technology diploma and a Risk and Insurance Management Society Fellowship. She is an active member on many boards and an important advocate of challenging the status quo for mental health. And as a model citizen and Albertan, Charlene is dedicated to maintaining a strong family environment and taking care of her own physical fitness. Here Charlene talks to us about what drives her to support and engage with the School and U of A as a whole.

Charlene, you are a wonderful example of what engagement looks like at the U of A as an alumna-you've served on the Senate, Alumni Council, the Board of Governors, as a mentor, and a donor. Can you tell us more about why you've decided to invest so much back into our institution?

I strongly believe in giving back to the community. I feel that “giving” time as a volunteer is what “community” is all about. And the U of A is a wonderful community, one made up of students from around the world, exceptional faculty members, amazingly talented staff and administrators and a ton of wonderful volunteers. But honestly, I feel I receive far more from my volunteer roles than I give. I have met many wonderful people that have enriched my life in so many ways, and through each volunteering opportunity, I am continually putting my knowledge, experience, and skills to use and learning new skills. 

You've shown tremendous optimism through all of the change happening at the university—how do you do it?

I am one of those strange folks who loves change, and the challenges and opportunities change presents. I have changed careers four times and loved every transition. Change can be scary and challenging, but it opens up new opportunities.  And only through challenge can you really grow and develop; I believe that applies to organizations as well as individuals. This is a tremendous time of change for the university, especially as the restructuring is coinciding with a global pandemic and its challenges. But I know that the university community is up to the challenge and will come out of it stronger, more agile and better positioned to the need of future students and continue to excel as a top university in Canada.  

For years, you have been exceptionally committed to supporting the Alberta School of Business and the university through philanthropy. What inspired you to give, and what is your message to inspire others to consider a gift to higher education?

I believe all graduates should support their alma mater. I know this is tough when you have just graduated, but it need not be a lot, and every dollar makes a difference. If you can’t afford to donate money, donate time! I am in a position to be able to give back because of the education, skills and networks that I developed at the university. Through my volunteering, I am exposed to a wide variety of students, groups and programs. I also see all that the university does for the larger community, the great things coming out of its extensive research, and I have an appreciation for the overall economic impact created by U of A graduates and their businesses. Every dollar donated goes to support one or more of those activities, which, in turn, benefits us all.  

How do you think we should keep the general community engaged in learning more about the U of A and the School?

This is a challenging question! I do feel the university needs to improve its outreach to the broader community. I know it does so much now, but for some reason, those efforts just don’t frequently make the front page news or top of my web feed. I am continually amazed at all the things I learn about the university. We need to get more of those great stories out into the public. Alumni Council does a great job of this, but there is still work to be done in this area. We need to reach out to the general and business communities more, and we need to invite those communities in and allow them to be part of the university’s story.  

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Please contact our team to discuss how you can make a difference:

Sue Chaffey
Assistant Dean, Advancement

Sarah Kowalevsky
Associate Director, Development

Alicsa Timmons
Stewardship and Development Officer