Alumni in Focus: Devin M. Butler, BA '02

GW Gymnastics alumna uses the grit and determination she developed as a student-athlete to fuel her entrepreneurial spirit.

September 26, 2023

Devin Butler Headshot

Where did you grow up and how has your background influenced you today?

“I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Dallas provided an amazing suburban childhood experience –  soccer, sleepovers, neighborhood kids, tree houses! I fell in love with gymnastics very early on and was lucky to have a phenomenal training program very close to my home. I was involved in USGA Junior Olympic gymnastics from age 9 to 18 and ultimately earned a full-athletic scholarship to GW.” 

How did your scholarship help you succeed at GW?

“I earned a full-athletic scholarship to GW in 1998 for gymnastics and that opportunity changed my life. My family never would have been able to afford for me to attend such a prestigious university without it. I was exposed to amazing opportunities and more importantly amazing people as a student-athlete. I was molded by one of the best coaches in collegiate sports, Margie F. Cunningham.  Margie is in the business of producing WOMEN, not just athletes, and I have fully benefited from my time with her. She showed me so many things that have impacted me as my life has unfolded: female leader, mindset matters, female business owner, working wife and mother... I could go on. I was the first gymnast in GW’s Athletics Hall of Fame, NCAA Woman of the Year nominee in 2002, and I hold many of the individual and all-around records in gymnastics at GW.”

What is your favorite only-at-GW moment?

“The first moment that comes to mind is how I met people from all over the world at GW. I remember taking three day weekends to fly to Portugal to visit a friend I had met at school. My mother worked for Delta so I had amazing flight benefits before I went to college, but after I also had amazing people to go visit! My second moment is attending Inaugural Balls during former President Bill Clinton's election season. Only at GW!”

Tell us about your current professional role and why it excites you.

“I am currently the CEO of JoyPop, LLC. At JoyPop we design and create addictive earrings and lapel pieces. JoyPop is the most authentic and exciting professional venture I have ever been involved in because it is all me! JoyPop is an expression of the journey that I have taken in life all the way back to myself – full circle some might say. Life has had some really dark points for me, but in retrospect that darkness was the catalyst for an amazing light and authenticity that I now get to share with the world. ‘Joy’ is a gift and ‘Pop’ is the energy we bring into a room! Tens of thousands of men and women currently are wearing JoyPop and I believe that they wear it as a badge of EFFORT, a reminder to get up everyday and be the best version of ourselves. If not today, try again tomorrow.” 

What accomplishment are you most proud of personally or professionally and why?

“Starting JoyPop has been a true leap of faith. I have never considered being a business owner and yet here I am! I did not grow up with entrepreneurs or have any role models in this space. There is something very wonderful about being able to make a living from something you made with your hands. It's even more amazing when people feel inspired by you, connected to you, as if you are all a part of a team working towards something together. We all desire JOY in our lives and JoyPop is definitely working to create tiny pops of joy for one person at a time.” 

What is a piece of advice you would offer to students seeking to pursue your field of work?

“Follow your heart!! Find a way to do what you love! I know that is cheesy but it is so true. The version of me that stands before you today is so similar to the 7 and 8 year old version of me that was so happy crafting and making things and being creative. That never changed. No one ever told me it could be the thing I do to support my family. Once you know that, be voracious in your pursuit of your goals around it. Never stop learning and surround yourself with people who match that energy.” 

How do you give back to the GW community?

“I mostly stay connected to GW through gymnastics. All my financial contributions go there. They also have created great mentoring programs that I have worked with and the GW Gymnastics community as a whole is a phenomenal network of amazing women. I hope to be able to give so much more in the future!”