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Name: Butts, Cassandra
Current Position: Ambassador


On February 10, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated a law school classmate, Cassandra Q. Butts, to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Butts’ nomination on May 13, 2014.


Butts was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 10, 1965, but her family moved to Durham, North Carolina, when she was nine. She attended the University of North Carolina, earning a B.A. in political science in 1987. She worked for a year as a researcher for African News Service in Durham and then went to Harvard Law School, where she became close friends with Obama. She received her law degree in 1991.


After graduation, Butts went to work for Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pennsylvania) as his legislative counsel. After Wofford was defeated in the 1994 general election by Rick Santorum, Butts moved to the NAACP, where she worked as assistant counsel dealing with civil rights policy.

Butts returned to Capitol Hill in 1996, working for Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) and for the House Democratic Policy Committee. She worked on vetting judicial nominees and served as counsel for the committee during the impeachment hearings for President Bill Clinton. Butts took time out in 2000 to serve as an observer in the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections.


In 2004, Butts was named senior vice president for domestic policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank. She stayed there until 2008, but did take time in late 2004 to help then-rookie Senator Obama set up his office.


Butts was brought onto Obama’s staff in 2008, serving as deputy White House counsel after the inauguration. She again helped with the vetting process, checking into the background of Supreme Court nominees. In 2009, Butts was made a senior adviser to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). She worked there until her nomination as ambassador.


Butts, who is single, has a reputation for enjoying fast cars and has a rare BMW coupe.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement to Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

The New Team: Cassandra Q. Butts (New York Times)

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