Antonio Butts, Executive Director, Walnut Way Conservation Corp., is a catalytic leader who is passionate about transforming economically excluded communities into neighborhoods of health and prosperity. Antonio’s career is marked by his collaborative leadership style and ability to create social enterprise for economic and social impact.
Growing up in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood fueled his drive to be a leader. After seeing many friends become trapped by disparities, Antonio found optimism in The Boys & Girls Club and mentors who helped him cultivate his leadership talents to their full potential.
With an entrepreneurial zeal, Antonio has spurred improvements in the financial, social and environmental well-being of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods through social enterprise and strategic initiatives. Throughout his career, he has used commercial strategies to catalyze start-up businesses, diversify non-profit revenue, and manage leadership transitions. Antonio is also known for his turnaround experience in both community and economic development which involved crisis management, capital restructuring, employee engagement and realigning non-profit organizations for growth.
He has worked with many small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofits as a consultant and employee. After earning a BA from Minnesota State-Moorhead College, and Antonio returned to the Boys & Girls Clubs in Milwaukee, where he spurred a youth-led social enterprise and other initiatives. He was recruited by Children’s Hospital to expand the recruitment of foster families and later joined SHARE of SE Wisconsin where he launched Milwaukee’s first Mobile Market program for low-income families. This experience fanned his passion for equitable food access and led him to the Director position at the Fondy Market, the City’s largest urban market in the heart of the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
Before becoming Executive Director of Walnut Way in 2017, Antonio served as Treasurer of the organization’s Board of Directors. Antonio is an alum of the African American Leadership Program (AALP) and Leadership Advances Fellowship (LAF) and serves on numerous boards and advisory groups in the community.