Dr. Butler is a professor in the School of Social Work and a Resident Scholar at the Center on Aging. She teaches courses in social welfare policy and serves as the Graduate Coordinator at the School of Social Work. 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 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 works closely with the statewide advocacy organization, Maine Equal Justice Partners, by researching the impact of state policy on low-income populations in Maine. She is a member of the national Scholars Strategy Network and received a Rising Tide Career Award in 2015.