Dr. Barbara Butts Williams

Executive Dean, Social Responsibility and Community Engagement; Dean Emerita, School of Business

Company: Capella University
Role: Podcast Presenter

Post: Podcast Ep. 93: Achieving Community Engagement and Social Impact Through a Community-Based University Partnership

Dr. Barbara Butts Williams is an independent board director and accomplished corporate, academic, and community leader. A strategic and innovative thinker with strong business acumen leading to business growth and sustainability, Barbara’s expertise in cultural and organizational transformation, talent management, and fluency in diversity, equity, and inclusion has had a positive impact on several premier organizations in both regulated and non-regulated industries throughout her career.

In her current role as executive dean, Social Responsibility and Community Engagement, Barbara is recognized for her compelling work serving and supporting others to make a difference in lives and communities throughout the country. Previously at Capella, she served as dean of School of Business and Technology and dean of School of Education with leadership responsibility for P&L and growth strategies, external relations and business partnerships, academic programs, learner success outcomes, and faculty and staff. A key leader at Capella, she has worked closely with corporate and community leaders, academic institutions, external accreditation agencies, and regulatory authorities throughout the U.S. Additionally, she has established relationships with universities and businesses in Latin America, India, and UAE.

Dr. Butts Williams’ roles prior to Capella University included president of Growth Partners Consulting, a firm she founded to provide strategic consulting to small- and medium-sized organizations in organizational change, talent management, strategic planning, and business development. She served as chief global officer, Leadership Development, Talent Management & Succession Planning and chief education officer at the St. Paul Companies (now The Travelers Companies), and with other premier organizations, such as Wilson Learning Corporation, Control Data Corporation (Ceridian), University of Michigan’s School of Business, and Pennsylvania Department of Health, she held senior leadership roles in marketing, strategic business development, portfolio management, diversity, equity and inclusion, talent management, and external relationships.

Barbara has served on multiple boards including corporate, nonprofit, and private. Her current corporate board assignments include vice-chair of Compensation & Human Resources on Allina Health’s board (a $4B+ enterprise), and Executive Loan and Credit, Nominating and Governance committees of HMN Financial Inc./Home Federal Savings Bank. She also serves as vice-chair and member of the Board of Commissioners for Minnesota’s Sports Facilities Authority (U.S. Bank Stadium) as well as several other nonprofit boards where she has served as board chair. Her leadership and board experience afford her a deep understanding and appreciation for governance best practices and future-focused planning.

Barbara has received numerous recognitions honoring her exceptional board leadership, governance expertise, and leadership in social responsibility and community impact including Twin Cities Business Magazine (Outstanding Board Directors Award 2019), Junior Achievement Upper-Midwest (Business Hall of Fame Laureate 2019), AARP / Pollen 50 over 50 (Top 10 Inspiring Business Leaders Honoree 2017), and Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal (Women in Business Career Achievement Recipient 2016). Dr. Butts Williams is recognized by the National Corporate Board of Directors Association as a Board Leadership Fellow.

• PhD, Human and Organizational Systems, Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California
• MA, Organizational Development, Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California
• MALS, Leadership and Business, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota
• BA, History and Political Science, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland


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