Eric John Pope. (Photo: Social media)

Eric John Pope, a young man of 41 years of age died too soon.  He lost his life in Philadelphia on April 22nd, 2022, as a victim of senseless violence. 

It’s not fair, the world needed Eric. The world of today needs Eric more than ever. In a world rocked by fear, violence and hate, Eric was its antidote. He had an unmatched zeal for life. He was a kind, gentle star that gave generously to the world. He valued and honored the richness of the diversity amongst us. We all felt better for knowing Eric, being in his presence brought out the best in each one of us. Eric was a lifelong achiever, a graceful fighter for justice. At an early age he had a passion for politics. He understood it’s all about who gets elected. He had political poise and polish and often used them both to help his candidates. The first of many fundraisers he invited me to, was for U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a candidate he worked hard for in 2010-2011 and who is still representing the state. 

Eric and Carolyn. (Photo: Courtesy/Carolyn Rose- Avila)

 

Eric’s politics were all about education and inclusion. He began his professional life as the youngest member elected to the school board of New Bedford Massachusetts at the age of 21, a position he held for 10 years. Our paths first crossed in Washington DC in 2010 where we worked together at an international non-profit. Its mission was to provide access to education to the poorest girls in the poorest countries around the world. Eric was on my Advocacy and Public Engagement team where he often managed to “punch above his weight” in the whirl of Washington political power. Eric may have been gentle but never timid. It was a joy to watch how gracefully he could “work a room”, never a stranger to the headliner. He always engaged with a mission in mind and relished the art of finding common ground with those of influence.  Eric became an enduring personal friend over the years. I liked to joke, that he “followed me” to Philadelphia. We both LOVED Philly. When I moved to the city, he came to help canvass for Hillary and often stayed at our apartment, eventually buying a home near where we lived. He never missed an opportunity to connect family with family, often getting me together with his mom when we were all in the same city.

Eric, Carolyn and friends. (Photo: Courtesy/Carolyn Rose- Avila)

Eric and his partner also became fast friends with my niece and her daughter who came to Philadelphia for surgery at Shriners’ Children’s Hospital. Eric even stayed overnight in the hospital when my niece’s daughter had spinal surgery. He made friends with other children at the hospital and stayed in close touch with one young patient from St. Lucia. This was Eric, always loving the other, always being present. 

Eric, Carolyn, and friends. (Photo: Courtesy/Carolyn Rose- Avila)

For the last seven years, Eric worked at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington DC. This young man’s job was to assist the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board to become a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Can you imagine a loftier institution seeking the advice of a young man with roots in the Cape Verde Islands on race, Black Lives Matter, and the death of George Floyd? Mr. Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank, one of the most powerful people and institutions in the US political establishment, personally wrote to Eric’s family expressing the shock and sorrow that was felt across the institution of Eric’s sudden death.  Eric was described “as someone that understood that inclusiveness was not just about equal opportunity and making use of the talents of every employee.  It was a set of values for how we treat each other. It makes us all better employees, bosses, and people. Few people lived those values better than Eric did.”

Eric John Pope with president Joe Biden (Photo: Social media)

Mr. Powell wanted Eric’s family to know what Eric had achieved; how he had given voice to the employees, helped senior leaders better understand the concerns of others; how he helped increase the number of hires of black economists, and most significantly how Eric “broadened the understanding of the powerful feelings that were unleashed by the events during the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.” And he did all this with joy and enthusiasm.  All those who were fortunate enough to cross his path felt his energy and optimism. The deep sorrow is knowing he had so much still to give.  

Eric John Pope with ex-president Barack Obama. (Photo: Social media)

This was Eric Pope, a kind, shining star, who was the embodiment of goodness, leaving us with hope in our humanity. Eric, you left us too soon.  The community has lost a special ally and it’s just not fair.   

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