Who We Are
Since Deborah Pope became Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in 1999, she has focused on developing and expanding the Foundation’s signature programs. To the EJK Book Award, for example, she added categories for illustration in 2001 and Honor Books in 2011, and moved the award to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, home of the Keats Archives, enhancing the award’s national recognition and stature. Deborah has also reenvisioned the Foundation website as a Children’s Literature Museum, a wide-ranging and invaluable resource for families, educators and researchers.
Previously Deborah had an extensive career in theatre and arts-in-education. She was the Founding Artistic Director of The New Theatre of Brooklyn (TNT), an award-winning regional theatre for which she developed an enriched arts-in-education program for middle school students. She also consulted on arts-in-education for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Education, served 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, and was a board member of of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (ART/NY) and the Roundtable Coalition of Arts-in-Education Providers.
Deborah lives with her husband and two daughters in Brooklyn, New York.
As associate Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, Margot Abel writes and edits the organization’s website and newsletter, oversees day-to-day administration and collaborates on creative development, planning, and web content and design. She came to the Foundation in 2011 with years of experience in publishing and the arts, having held a variety of jobs—book publicist, recipe editor, freelance editor, copy chief—for employers such as G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Ladies’ Home Journal and Art+Auction. Margot is thrilled to bring her diverse background and expertise to the real-life and online worlds of Ezra Jack Keats and children’s literature.
As the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s Game Designer, Jay Boucher is responsible for translating the look and spirit of Keats into the world of online games. Formerly a senior designer for MTV.com creating games and entertainment, Jay is a visual artist and interactive designer in Hoboken, New Jersey, who specializes in drawing, illustration, web design and animation. He also teaches drawing and digital literacy at schools in northern New Jersey. He is the proud father of two daughters. Jay blogs at hobokenpudding.com/.
Director of Digital Production Diana Vozza has ushered the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation further into the digital age since 2010. She created a strong presence for the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter, and currently produces videos, oversees game development and, with web developer Andrew Elliot, keeps the website thriving. Diana became captivated by Keats when she began reading to her son and realized how important picture books are in early childhood development. After earning a B.F.A. at the Maryland Institute College of Art, she worked for over 20 years as a documentary television editor. Diana teaches video editing at the School of Visual Arts, in New York.
Gayle Bendeck joined the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in 2012, as Educational Consultant. A retired teacher in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, Gayle has over 20 years of classroom experience, including 15 years teaching kindergarten. She instilled a love of children’s literature in her three children as well as her many students. Today she researches creative ways that Keats is and can be used to enrich the curriculum for young readers and consults on how the Foundation can better serve educators.
Dr. Lillie Pope
Lillie Pope has served as Educational Director and Vice President of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation since 1983. She designed the Foundation’s signature programs to encourage literacy, creativity and joy in learning in pubic schools and libraries across the United States.
Dr. Pope was Founding Director of the internationally acclaimed Learning and Reading Disabilities Program at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. There, as Director of Psycho-Educational Services, she developed a 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 organizations with similar goals.
As Director of Education and Training at JOIN, a New York City agency offering educational opportunities to school dropouts, Dr. Pope directed a successful city-wide program of remedial education. 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 produced films and workshops for professionals and laypersons in the U.S. and Canada, and in 1981 she received the Mary Hornby Award for her work in the field of learning disabilities. She is the author of two tests and 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 more than 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. (Previous winners of the Davy Medal 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.
For more information on Martin Pope, visit the New York University website and Wikipedia.