Lewis W. Butler Foundation

Advancing opportunities for young people in architecture and design

Lewis W. Butler believed in the power of education and mentorship to transform the lives of young people. As co-founder of Butler Armsden Architects, he was a supportive boss and adviser to a diverse group of design professionals in various stages of their careers. The Lewis W. Butler Foundation honors his commitment to promoting education and expanding opportunities in architecture and design.

The Lewis W. Butler Foundation will provide scholarship, internship, and mentorship opportunities to young people interested in architecture and design, creating opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. We plan to prioritize students who are economically disadvantaged and those from groups that are underrepresented in design fields including people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.

About Lewis W. Butler

Lewis W. Butler, AIA, was born in San Francisco in 1957 and lived a life characterized by his joie de vivre, independent spirit, and hard work. Lewis studied Civil Engineering at Stanford University, graduating in 1979. After working for a year at internationally recognized William Turnbull Associates in San Francisco, Lewis completed his master’s in architecture at Harvard, where he met his wife, Catherine Armsden. Lewis and Catherine cofounded Butler Armsden in 1985, landing jobs with Lewis’s ever-optimistic mantra, “Yes, we can do that!”

Our Board

Elena Butler

President and Founding Director

Elena grew up in San Francisco and graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics. After college, she was a Fulbright Scholar to Malaysia, a healthcare consultant at Bain & Company, and the international business development lead at an education technology startup. She then decided to change her path from business to medicine, and is now a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Since returning to the healthcare field, she has served as a Strategy Advisor at Boston Medical Center and as Strategic Projects Lead at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers. Her insights on healthcare reform have been published in Harvard Business Review and The New England Journal of Medicine: Catalyst. Elena is the daughter of Lewis Butler and Catherine Armsden.

Chandra Campbell

Treasurer and Founding Director, CEO and CFO of Butler Armsden Architects

Chandra was born in Massachusetts but moved to San Francisco in elementary school, and has always felt a pull between both coasts. She earned her BA in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University. She has worked at Butler Armsden Architects since 1999. Coming from a family of both artists and entrepreneurs, she enjoys being surrounded by creative people, art and design, and running small businesses comes naturally and intuitively. When she’s not crunching numbers, Chandra enjoys exploring the beauty of California with her husband and two sons.

Catherine Armsden

Founding Director; Co-Founder of Butler Armsden Architects

Catherine Armsden grew up in coastal Maine. She attended Brown University where she earned her undergraduate degree in Studio Art and Art History. After a year at Seattle’s Office of Urban Conservation and two at Ann Beha Architects in Boston, Catherine pursued her Masters in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. There, she met Lewis Butler. They were married in 1983 and founded Butler Armsden Architects in 1985. Catherine left Butler Armsden to pursue writing her novel, Dream House, which was published in 2015 and explores how people shape and are shaped by their homes. A lifelong contemporary art enthusiast, Catherine served on the Board of Southern Exposure for 25 years and is a current Board member of Emergent Art Space.

Tobias Butler

Secretary, Tech Lead, and Founding Director

Tobias grew up in San Francisco and attended Wesleyan University where he studied Music and Computer Science. After graduating, he worked at small San Francisco startups, cementing his coding skills while learning practices of entrepreneurship and design thinking. This culminated in a tenure leading software engineering at Louder, which was acquired by Change.org in 2015. Tobias has remained at Change.org since the acquisition, where he is a Staff Software Engineer focusing on helping Change.org’s technology stack support its social mission. He is also the chair of the Blue Bear School of Music’s NextGen Tech Board, where he uses the skills he’s learned in his day jobs to think about the future of the 50-year-old nonprofit music school. Tobias remains an active musician and often relaxes by playing classical piano. Tobias is the son of Lewis Butler and Catherine Armsden.

Help us grow our Board of Directors

We are building diverse board of Bay Area leaders in design, nonprofit management, and education. To suggest a potential board member, please contact elena@lewiswbutlerfoundation.org.

The Lewis W. Butler Foundation is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation which is in the process of applying for tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.