Atlanta – January 8, 2020– The AJC Decatur Book Festival announces a change in leadership with the promotion of Joy Pope from Program Director to Interim Executive Director effective January 1, 2020.
Joy Pope succeeds Julie Wilson and will be the Festival’s third Executive Director since its founding in 2006. Wilson is stepping down so that she can spend more time with her family.
“As the DBF enters its 15th year, we’re lucky to have someone with Joy’s creativity and resourcefulness at the helm. Because of her exemplary work as Program Director–which included a collaboration with PEN America, the literary and human-rights organization that helped underwrite last year’s highly successful immigration panel keynote and track–we are confident that she will provide the kind of leadership that will guarantee the continued health and growth of one of the region’s most-beloved cultural events,” states Jim Diedrick, immediate past-president of the DBF Board. He adds, “Fortunately, outgoing director Julie Wilson helped bring a greater degree of professionalism and strategic planning to the festival and board, so Joy is building on a strong foundation.”
Founded in 2006, the Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall. Since its launch, more than four thousand authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded downtown Decatur to attend book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, a culinary village, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more. In addition, the DBF sponsors a number of other author and book events throughout the year.
Pope notes that the idea of “the festival” has been important across time and across cultures. “Book festivals celebrate the exchange of ideas.They embody the same kind of communal spirit and joy experienced by participants attending SXSW, the Paris Salon, or even the first annual Dionysia–an ancient celebration of theater. At the DBF, we’re proud to bring together a variety of public and private partnerships comprised of churches, booksellers, colleges, universities, the city, and local businesses in a purposeful way that allows our attendees to find themselves simultaneously pleased by something familiar and, hopefully, surprised by something new.”
Along with this change of leadership, the DBF Board of Directors is also evolving: Mathwon Howard, Associate Vice President for Development Programs at Emory University, is assuming the role of president, and two new members are joining the board–both Decatur residents and fans of the festival: local attorney Henry Parkman and Jeff Steely, Dean of Libraries at Georgia State University.
Prior to joining the festival, Pope earned a dual-genre MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She previously earned a Master’s degree in the Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, famous for its Great Books curriculum. Joy has a BA in English from the University of Oregon and has lived in Decatur with her husband and two daughters since 2005.
The DBF will release its lineup in early June. The board will launch a search for a permanent executive director in the spring.