Photo by Kent Kriegshauser

Brenda Butler ’71 forged an exemplary 35-year career in journalism, working as a reporter, copy editor, and senior features editor. She was the first African American member of the Chicago Tribune to hold the position of associate managing editor and her professional experience spans from the historic Johnson Publishing’s Jet Magazine to the Chicago Tribune.

Butler’s ongoing dedication to Knox students includes professional mentoring and career advising. Her commitment to Knox alumni includes being a founding member of Allied Blacks for Liberty & Equality (A.B.L.E.), a facilitator in the creation of the Black Alumni Association of Knox College (BAAKC), and a supporter of the Black Alumni Network.

Why did you choose to attend Knox?

I wanted to get away from home and, at the time, I wanted to be a doctor. I sent off my application to parts of the country I was interested in and Illinois was one of them. Knox has an excellent pre-med program. I wanted a small liberal arts college and the program was great; it all lined up.

What are your favorite memories from your time at Knox?

Being one of the founding members of A.B.L.E. is something I’m very proud of. Overall, I’m just proud to be a product of Knox. The professors and colleagues I met here were all instrumental in helping me become the person I am today. Everything I learned at Knox, along with my family and personal convictions, has contributed to my success.

What advice would you give to students trying to start a career in journalism?

If you want to be a journalist, start practicing journalism. If your college has a newspaper or a digital media outlet, even a radio or TV station, start reporting. See what the right fit is and take advantage of those opportunities. You need to show future employers that you have experience in the field. Show them that you’re serious about it.

I have mentored students, helping guide them toward a career as a writer, editor, videographer, or whatever direction they want to go. It can be helpful to share with them how to take that first step into the field. I would love for more Knox students to reach out and chat about journalism. I’m open to sharing whatever knowledge I can.

Watch a video interview with Brenda.