Dr. Butler is the School’s MSW Coordinator and teaches courses in social welfare policy. Her research focuses primarily on the health needs and social welfare experiences of low-income women across the life span. Her publications are in the areas of poverty, direct care workers, public assistance, older workers, rural aging, the impact of higher education for low-income mothers, GLBT aging, lesbian health, homelessness, teen parenting and pregnancy, and policy practice. She has served as the Interim Director of the School on a number of occasions.
She was a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar from 2001 to 2003, which allowed her to expand her teaching, scholarship and community service in the area of aging. In 2010, she became a Hartford Faculty Research Mentor. Since its inception in 2001, she has been affiliated with the University of Maine Center on Aging, participating on several research and service projects. In 2008 she received an Academic Research Enhancement Award (R-15) from the National Institute on Aging to look at retention and turnover among home care workers, with a particular focus on older workers. This three-year project involved student training in research methods. She received a career recognition award from the University of Maine Rising Tide Center in 2015.
She works closely with the statewide advocacy organization, Maine Equal Justice Partners, by researching the impact of state policy on low-income populations in Maine. In 2014, along with Dr. Luisa Deprez, she co-authored a monthly column for the Bangor Daily News, profiling the impact of social welfare policies on low-income Mainers. She is a member of the national Scholars Strategy Network.
She has served on the boards of a variety of community and state organizations including the Maine Women’s Lobby, Maine Women’s Policy Center, Family Connections (serving kinship families), Spruce Run (battered women’s program), and the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center. She currently sits on the board of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. She has been involved in legislative advocacy on job conditions for direct care workers, welfare, providing assistance to kinship families, and civil rights for gays and lesbians. From 2002-2004, Dr. Butler coordinated the statewide Relatives as Parents Project (RAPP) Network. She served on an advisory panel for a national needs assessment regarding services of GLBT elders from 2002-2003. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Poverty, the Journal of Community Practice, the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, and as a consulting editor for the journal, Health & Social Work and Affilia: Journal of Women & Social Work. She is frequently invited to review manuscripts for other journals.