Leslie Parks Pope and her family have been involved in the Johnson City area since her grandfather was advised to move to the mountains from the lowlands of eastern North Carolina for his health, and he established here the first Parks-Belk department store in Tennessee in 1929.
She began her association with ETSU as a student in what is now University School. After attending classes at ETSU and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, she continued her education at Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia with a major in economics. Upon the early death of her father, she returned to ETSU to study accounting.
As she became part of the merchandising family's business in the day-to-day operations of Parks-Belk, one of the Tri-Cities' best-known retailers, Pope "took to heart the lessons learned from her father about the people in the region, their interests, and their tastes," Manning said. "One of those lessons was to serve the people you rely on and the area you call home. And that she has done in a remarkable fashion."
Until 1995, she served as Chairman of the Board of the Parks Belk Company, overseeing her family's highly successful retail venture. Today, she is Chief Executive Officer of The Parks Group in Gray, Tennessee.
She was appointed by then Gov. Don Sundquist to represent the First Congressional District on the Tennessee Board of Regents in 1995, ETSU's governing body. Her contributions as a 12-year TBR member include several searches for campus leaders, revitalization of campuses through capital projects, and the establishment of the TBR Philanthropy Awards, which has "highlighted the important role of private support throughout the state and to underscore the 'fun of giving.'"
She has been a member of the Board of Directors of SunTrust Bank of Northeast Tennessee since 1983 and serves on the boards of the Tri-Cities Business Alliance and the Number One Committee.
Active in civic affairs, she is a member of the board of directors for the Sequoyah Council of Boy Scouts of America, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, and the Washington County Heart Association. She also serves as a member of Johnson City Medical Center Hospital 's Foundation Board.
A lifelong advocate for ETSU, she served as president of the ETSU Foundation for three terms as the first woman to hold that position. She continues her service as a member of the ETSU Foundation Executive Committee.
Named the ETSU Honorary Alumna in 1994, she has assisted as a member of the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board, and is responsible for the Leslie Parks Pope Honors Scholarship Endowment. Her husband, Dr. Joseph Pope, joins her in membership in the ETSU Foundation's Distinguished President's Trust, the Silver Society, and the Legacy Society.
She and Dr. Pope are the parents of three children, Charles, Anne, and Sarah.