The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) Board of Directors announces James Pond as president of GBBF, the early childhood literacy organization that mails 286,000+ books to Tennessee children each month. Since 2004, GBBF has continued to sustain the statewide Imagination Library program, while broadening the Foundation’s mission to promote early childhood literacy through additional initiatives such as Tennessee State Park Imagination Library Storybook Trails and Summer Mobile Literacy Units.
The former Executive Director of Veteran’s PATH, whose mission is to help combat veterans find health and healing, brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, fundraising and team management to GBBF. He will focus on developing strategies for promoting and strengthening the statewide early literacy organization and sustaining its mission through Tennessee’s Imagination Library program and other outreach initiatives for Tennessee’s children.
“After 15 years and more than 35 million books delivered statewide, GBBF continues to give all young children in Tennessee the opportunity to develop critical early literacy skills from birth,” said Mark Cate, GBBF Board Chairman. “We are excited for James to join the GBBF team, bringing with him much enthusiasm for the Foundation’s early literacy mission and a bright vision for the future.”
With vital financial support from the Governor, Tennessee General Assembly, foundations, and corporate sponsors, GBBF funds half the cost of Imagination Library (IL) books for enrolled children statewide, supporting grassroots organizers in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as they raise the other half of the cost of books for enrolled children in their county.
Photo of GBBF Staff, Statewide Partners Dinner, November 26, 2018, Tennessee Executive Residence (left to right: Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee, Maria Lee, Claire Jones, GBBF’s Marketing & Communications Outreach Coordinator, Dean Hoskins, GBBF Vice President, Dolly Parton, Linda Kirkpatrick, GBBF’s Executive Assistance, Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Abby Graves, GBBF’s Community Engagement Director, James Pond, GBBF’s President)
A native of Antioch, Calif., Pond served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent 10 years in corporate America before his nonprofit career began in 2004. For 12 years, he worked to combat sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, serving the needs of trafficking survivors through quality programs, focused on restoring the lives of young girls.
“It is a pleasure and honor to begin this New Year as president of Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation,” Pond said. “This organization has done such incredible work over the past years and accomplished many key milestones in effectively addressing early childhood literacy through our book program and other efforts. I am looking toward a strong vision for the future as we continue in our mission of promoting early literacy in Tennessee to the generations to come.”
Pond completed his master’s degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., in 2004, while doing extensive research on global slavery issues, and has consulted on anti-trafficking projects in Indonesia, Greece, Bulgaria, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Moldova, and the U.S. Pond and his wife Athena have three children and live in Nashville.