POPS the Club Co-Founders. Amy Friedman is an author, editor and teacher, and Dennis Danziger is a retired high school teacher, author and playwright. In 2013, while Dennis was teaching English at Venice High, the couple co-founded POPS the Club at that school, and later that year incorporated POPS as a nonprofit. Together and apart, Amy and Dennis have since led more than 300 POPS club meetings in schools across the country and co-edited and published a dozen award-winning anthologies, five with PEN America, followed by seven POPS the Club books to celebrate and honor the writing and artwork created by POPS the Club members, POPS graduates and others.
Amy served as POPS the Club’s Executive Director until October 2021, leading the organization’s growth to include 19 clubs in five states and spearheading dozens of partnerships–with nonprofits, government agencies, foundations, funders, teaching artists, authors, actors, teachers, principals, and more. POPS was born of Amy’s personal experience, described in her memoir, Desperado’s Wife. Initially trained by Executive Service Corps of Southern California’s Executive Director Leadership Institute (EDLI), in 2021 Amy was City Scholars Fellow. Also until October 2021, Dennis served as a POPS volunteer, as a club sponsor, lead volunteer, the secretary of the Board of Directors, and guest speaker. Together the created the organization’s writing curriculum. In 2016 Amy and Dennis received the George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation Award and, that same year, the Obama administration invited them, along with a few POPS students, to the White House to speak about the impact of incarceration on teens. Both Amy and Dennis are staunch believers in freedom of expression and the power of art to change the world.
In 2020, Amy founded Out of the Woods Press to dismantle barriers and challenge the notion that some lives matter more than others. Beginning in early 2022, Amy and Dennis worked closely with The Pathfinder Network to launch The PATHfinder Club in Portland, Oregon, a club modeled after POPS the Club. They were delighted when, in early 2023, The Pathfinder Network took over operations of all the POPS clubs in California, Georgia and New York, and in collaboration with The Pathfinder Network and Good Pictures, Amy continues to curate the PATHfinder Network and POPS Club anthologies and is the executive producer of Impacts of Incarceration, a free online video library designed to educate, empower and create meaningful change by sharing the voices and wisdom of those impacted by incarceration.