By Bennett Marcus
You might not expect a private equity and real estate attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions to organize a monthly salon where influential women gather to discuss cultural issues, but that’s exactly what Margaret Isa Butler has done.
At the first salon in September, Olympic ice dancer Melissa Gregory spoke about her Eduskating program, which teaches students about Olympic values, teamwork, and skating. The thirty-or-so women in attendance came from the worlds of art, fashion, finance, sports, science, media, and law. “My goal is that these women will form friendships that they might not have had without this group, and that that inspires them and helps them look at the world in different ways, and think of new things to do together, and make their lives better in different ways,” Butler explained.
At these get-togethers, she wants to recognize women who make important contributions to society. “In New York City, everybody is so busy, so we tend to stay in our own expertise areas, so you end up with circles of friends that have a lot in common with you,” the Upper East Side resident says. “And I believe that the best way to be creative, and to make new things happen in the world, is to bring people together who have different ideas and different ways of doing things.” She adds, “I think we can take a page from their book and learn a lot.”
Butler’s day job at Greenberg Traurig, LLP involves helping companies, pension funds, and private individuals buy and sell businesses and invest in real estate developments and other projects. Since 2009, Butler has led the Harvard Club of New York’s M&A interest group, and in 2013 she was named in M&A Advisor’s “40 Under 40” list. She’s also on the advisory board of the private equities program at Columbia Business School, her alma mater.
In her legal work, one project Butler was very excited to have had a hand in was the Hudson Yards joint venture. “That’s going to change the face of New York City, and to have seen that from the beginning, and be a part of that is just personally very gratifying for me,” she says. Working on the Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx is another career highlight; it has a special place in her heart because her husband, Steven, is part of the project’s development team. “I’ve been working on that for a very long time, and I can’t wait to skate there,” Butler says.
She also serves on the New Vic Council, which supports the New 42nd Street and the New Victory Theater, and sits on the board of the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx. “It’s just another extension of everything I believe in, which is supporting the arts for children,” says Butler, who has a six-year-old son. Her participation in these arts organizations is not unrelated to her founding of the female-focused salon series. “What I most love to do is to let people have access to people and experiences that they wouldn’t necessarily get otherwise. So I love to do that for children, through the New Victory, I love their programming, and I want to do that for these fantastic women who are coming to my event going forward.”
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