A Tribute to Barbara

PolicyWorks is deeply saddened by the passing of PolicyWorks President, Barbara Butz this past November. Barbara was a founding member of PolicyWorks and she grew the PolicyWorks’ peer mentorship program into a national force. She poured her time and energy into not only PolicyWorks as an organization but into the lives of the people she served. 

“As a person, Barbara was both an impassioned advocate and a caring colleague. She inspired people of all ages — particularly young individuals with disabilities seeking to find their way in school, work, and giving back,” expresses Rayna Aylward, a long-time PolicyWorks board member. Rayna met Barbara through their beloved mutual friend and mentor Susan Daniels. Rayna explains that Barbara picked up the torch when Susan passed away, and she carried it proudly and powerfully in leading PolicyWorks through years of growth and impact. Rayna continues that “[She was] so blessed to have had both Susan and Barbara as friends and guides.  Now let us pick up that torch and lead on!”

Barbara, a Class of 2018 inductee of the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, had a long history of working in disability advocacy and policy. Barbara was an incredible mentor who poured her life into mentees in order to help them grow. Another board member, Nancy Starnes, shares how “Barbara was tireless in her pursuit of new outcomes for young people with disabilities.  Inspired by our colleague, Susan Daniel’s memory, Barbara set about moving current traditional thinking beyond job opportunities–any job–to meaningful careers as a new and innovative goal. Her success has inspired each of us to re-double our efforts, now in her memory, to continue that effort.” 

Barbara had a rich history of advocacy work. In 1999, Barbara founded The Capstone Consulting Group, Inc. and accumulated more than 40 years of experience in employment and training workforce development at the federal, state and local levels. She focused her consulting practice on these issues as well as health care access and Social Security policy development. Barbara’s long list of successes accumulated through her many roles, including Assistant Secretary for Labor and Employment Security in Florida, Executive Director of a non-profit employment and training organization, Director of Employment Programs for an urban Community Action Program, and Program Supervisor for Vocational Technical and Adult Education programs for a public-school district.

Barbara has left us with an incredible legacy that will continue to inspire many to follow her example. “She was a true leader and passionate advocate from whom we can all learn,” board member Kristen Willard recalls. “Barbara loved her work but even more dearly her community, her friends and her animals. She will be dearly missed.”