Eric Butler believes in the power of relationship building as a healing practice. An educator and activist, Eric’s ability to overcome life’s hurdles propels him to make a difference in the lives of young people across the U.S. and beyond.
Eric began his career as a domestic violence counselor in New Orleans. After surviving Hurricane Katrina and relocating to Oakland, California, Eric successfully facilitated Grief Circles in response to homicide and extreme violence in area schools as a part of Catholic Charities’ crisis response program. He also worked as a lead mediator with Youth Uprising, where he mediated conflicts on the ground in Oakland neighborhoods and schools. Eric is recognized for his impactful restorative justice work with youth in West Oakland as the School Coordinator at Bunche High School with Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY). He went on to found the “Talking Peace” model of Restorative Justice, a set of practices and philosophy aimed at building relationships through shared values. National publications like the New York Times and YES! Magazine, and the film, CIRCLES, document Eric’s pioneering and transformational approach, which hinges on the tremendous power of a single conversation.
Eric was the first recipient of the NACRJ Dennis Maloney Award for Community and Restorative Justice, was awarded the Cinequest Film Festival “Visionary Award” in 2019, and was awarded the Northwest Justice Forum 2019 Lifetime Restorative Justice Award. He serves on the Board of Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, & Reconciliation. From keynote speaking to facilitating professional development experiences within school districts, Eric travels around the world to make restorative practices accessible to anyone willing to commit. Restorative practices are not only tools to be used in schools or in courts, but provide for a way of being to help communities connect, heal, make peace and long-lasting change.