Cassandra Q. Butts ’91, who served as a deputy White House counsel and was a longtime friend and adviser to President Barack Obama ’91, died May 25. She was 50. During her career, Butts had also worked on civil rights policy with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, served on Capitol Hill as legislative counsel to U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford and as a top adviser to U.S. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt. She later served as senior adviser at the Millennium Challenge Corp. and was nominated by Obama to be U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. In a statement, the Obamas said that Butts was “always pushing, always doing her part to advance the causes of opportunity, civil rights, development, and democracy.”

“Cassandra Butts was a extremely talented and versatile attorney and dedicated public servant,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow. “We are deeply saddened by her death. She was also a beloved friend and builder of communities. Taken much too soon, she will remain an inspiring individual of vision and passion to all privileged to know her and to know of her.”

Read an obituary from the Washington Post.