Frederick K. Butler
Founding FirstWorks Board President and Chair Emeritus

A tireless contributor to the arts, civic and cultural communities in Providence

Fred Butler brought invaluable business and community leadership to FirstWorks throughout a first decade of amazing growth.

“FirstWorks is one of the things I’m most proud of,” said Fred at the inaugural FirstWorks Festival on the Plaza in 2012 – the culmination of over a year of collaboration by 20 local organizations. “FirstWorks was an overall strategy to build on partnerships, community, audience engagement, and education… a lot of things people were talking about but very few people accomplished. I think we really hit a home run.”

A native of Erie, PA, Fred holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. A Rhode Island resident since 1980, Fred has held numerous leadership positions throughout the state, and is currently the chairman of the Rhode Island Foundation where he has served on the board of directors since 2008.

Fred is also the chairman of AAA Southern New England’s board of directors, a commissioner of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission and a trustee of Salve Regina University. He is vice chairman of the board of directors for Delta Dental of Rhode Island, a past chairman of The Providence Foundation, and a former board member of the United Way of Rhode Island.

Fred is retired from a 29-year career at Textron Inc., where he was vice president of business ethics and corporate secretary. He joined Textron in 1980 as a staff attorney, holding numerous positions there before assuming his final post in 1999.

From FirstWorks’ boot-strap beginnings as a festival-producer, through its evolution into year-round, world-class arts programming — Fred helped to establish FirstWorks as a creative force in the Providence arts landscape and for Rhode Island through arts learning and outreach programs expanding far beyond the stage.

“Under Fred’s leadership, FirstWorks was transformed from a fledgling local organization holding a once-a-year event, to a nationally recognized non-profit that today introduces world-class artists into the community year-round through performances, community conversations and state-wide educational initiatives. Fred’s insistence and staunch support for FirstWorks’ growing arts learning program has resulted in thousands of Rhode Island students having exposure to potentially life-changing creative opportunities that they otherwise would never encounter. Thank you Fred, and may we carry on and continue to build on that proud tradition.” – Normand G. Benoit, Esq., FirstWorks Board President

Frederick K. Butler