Leadership

“I founded the Butler Conservation Fund in an effort to preserve the natural state and beauty of places that are dear to me, to guarantee that those places can be enjoyed by nature lovers long into the future, and to instill in others the deep love of nature and the outdoors that has been an enduring part of my life.”

Gilbert Butler is the founder of Butler Capital Corporation (eventually the Black River Management Company) and a noted environmental philanthropist. A boyhood spent near Utica, New York, close to the western edge of the Adirondack Park, gave Mr. Butler an early and lasting appreciation for nature and its value to society. He is an accomplished outdoorsman who enjoys extensive travel, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and kayaking.

A graduate of Milton Academy, Harvard College, and Columbia Business School, Mr. Butler was a pioneer in developing alternative investment vehicles for pension funds, endowments, and other institutions. By age 30, he was a Vice President of the Trust and Investment Division of Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Before Mr. Butler’s departure from Morgan in 1979, he was responsible for and was co-manager of over $1.2 billion in pension funds. Mr. Butler co-founded the Butler Capital Corporation that same year, and the firm became one of the earliest middle-market management-buyout firms to achieve a subscribed capital in excess of one billion dollars. In 2005, Mr. Butler began to wind down his private equity firm and concentrate on managing the assets and grants for his charitable foundation which would eventually come to be known as the Butler Conservation Fund.

<i>Photo Courtesy of Dana Beach</i>
Photo Courtesy of Dana Beach

Gilbert Butler grew up with the great outdoors. An avid outdoorsman himself, Mr. Butler wished to share his passion and enthusiasm for nature, especially with the sedentary youth of today. Using the business acumen and capital he had acquired through the years, he decided to fund outdoor education programs that would allow school-age children to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, and mountain biking while learning lessons such as geography, history, biology, geology, and ecology. Mr. Butler established a program providing day trips for students where they would recreate and learn simultaneously and hence form a lasting bond with the great outdoors.

His philanthropy has subsequently expanded to embrace many other areas that reflect his keen interest in conserving and preserving the environment. A priority of the Butler Conservation Fund is to support projects in six designated “legacy geographies.” Mr. Butler’s goal is to leave a legacy that will have a lasting impact on the places that are especially meaningful to him and the organizations whose work he most highly values.