Who We Are
Deborah Pope has served as Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation since 1999, where she collaborates on the Foundation’s innovative programs and is a creative force in developing and extending its mission.
Deborah has had an extensive career in theatre and in the field of arts in education. She joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1983, during her tenure as Founding Artistic Director of The New Theatre of Brooklyn (TNT), a not-for-profit regional theatre in an underserved section of New York City. There she developed and implemented an arts-in-education program providing in-depth, extended exposure to theatre for middle school students.
In addition to serving on granting panels for the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York Drama League, Deborah has worked on the staff of the New York Shakespeare Festival, Kingsborough Community College, Hunter College and Lincoln Center, and was an Arts-in-Education consultant for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Department of Education. She served for 10 years on the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (ART/NY), and was a member of the Roundtable Coalition of Arts-in-Education Providers. A mother of two daughters, Deborah lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Dr. Lillie Pope
Lillie Pope has served as Educational Director and Vice President of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation since 1983, where she has designed and facilitated programs that encourage literacy, creativity and joy in learning in public schools and libraries in all 50 states.
Her professional career has focused on working with children with special needs. After many years as a Master Teacher in the New York City public schools, she was Founding Director of the internationally acclaimed Learning and Reading Disabilities Program at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. As Director of Psycho-Educational Services at Coney Island Hospital, Dr. Pope developed a learning and reading program that focused on prevention and remediation for children who demonstrated learning and behavioral problems in school. Her program served as a model for many programs with similar goals.
Dr. Pope previously served as Director of Education and Training at JOIN, a New York City agency designed to offer educational opportunities to school dropouts. There she set up and directed a successful city-wide program of remedial education, employing the talents of a large staff that included trained teachers as well as volunteers with no prior teaching experience. She was also an Adjunct Professor at New York University and Brooklyn College.
Dr. Pope has lectured widely and published numerous papers on mental health and special education. She has produced films and workshops for thousands of professionals and laypersons in the U.S. and Canada, where she was granted the Mary Hornby Award for her work in this field. She is the author of two tests and has written seven books, including Teach Anyone to Read: The No-Nonsense Guide and Wordplay: A Dictionary of Idioms.
For more information on Lillie Pope, visit Wikipedia.
Dr. Martin Pope
Martin Pope, President of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, was a lifelong friend of the artist. For nearly 30 years, he and his wife, Lillie Pope, have carried on Keats’s mission of promoting respect for all people, fostering creativity in children and encouraging literacy and joy in reading and learning.
Dr. Pope is a Professor Emeritus of New York University and the former Director of its Radiation and Solid State Physics Lab. He is one of the founders of the field of electronic properties of organic crystals. Dr. Pope is internationally known for his pioneering work in electroluminescence and for inventing many of the experimental techniques used to study organic materials. He has published over 100 papers, his most recent in 2003 and 2004. In 2006 Dr. Pope was awarded the Davy Medal by the Royal Society of Great Britain for his outstanding work and contributions to his field. (Winners of this award include Marie and Pierre Curie, and Linus Pauling.)
In his spare time, Dr. Pope collects rocks and minerals, builds wooden toys for his grandchildren and does magic tricks for the children in his extended family.