Baccalaureate Speaker

Pastor Richie Butler

Richie Butler is a leader in the Dallas community in faith, social innovation and business. Butler founded Union Cathedral, an independent interdenominational church, in 2002. In 2014, he successfully merged Union Cathedral with the historic St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas, where he currently serves as the senior pastor.

In addition to his role as senior pastor, Butler has been responsible for nearly $1 billion in real estate investment activity throughout the United States as a private equity real estate fund manager with Prescott Group. His most noted development was Unity Estates, heralded nationally as a model for faith-based community development.

As a social innovator, Butler is the founder of Project Unity, which sponsors Together We Ball: Pastors, Police and Community, an initiative that uses sports to bring community and law enforcement together; and Together We Dine, a program that brings people together to have courageous and safe conversations about race. In response to the deadly ambush of five Dallas police officers in 2016, Butler launched Year of Unity, a community-wide initiative to help bridge racial divides. President George W. Bush served as the honorary chair. 

Butler was recognized by D CEO as one of the “17 Stars of Tomorrow in Commercial Real Estate” in Dallas; received the SMU Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award; and received the Dallas Bar Association 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award. Butler was also named a 2018 Minority Business Leader award honoree by the Dallas Business Journal, and a 2018 SMU Silver Anniversary Mustang (SAM) recipient.

Butler played football for SMU from 1989-1993. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from SMU and a master’s in theology from Harvard University. He has also done extended studies in Urban Planning at MIT and was the recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship to study art history and political science in Europe.

Butler’s current civic involvements include the SMU Board of Trustees, Communities Foundation of Texas board of trustees, the Dallas Assembly and the Real Estate Executive Council.