All Members

Art Pope

Art Pope, of Raleigh, NC, is a proud graduate of UNC Chapel Hill ('78) and a former state representative. Pope considers it an honor to serve and to give back to the UNC System and the state of North Carolina. His priorities as a Board member are to provide safe and healthy learning environments for students, faculty and staff; to provide affordable, quality education without passing on higher costs to students; and to facilitate open and civil conversations.

Pope's diverse career has included time in both the public and private sectors. He is the owner and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Variety Wholesalers, Inc. He formally joined the company alongside his father in 1986. Headquartered in Raleigh and Henderson NC, the company owns and operates over 400 discount merchandise retail stores with more than 10,000 employees in 18 states.

Art Pope also serves as the Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation, a family foundation established in 1986 by Pope and his father, John William Pope. The foundation has given over $230 million in charitable grants to meet human needs through direct humanitarian assistance and to provide opportunities for the future through higher education and public policy research and public policy. UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University have been recipients of grants awarded by the foundation.

Pope is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, having started his career with Wyrick, Robbins, Yates, and Ponton. In 1985. At the age of 29, Pope began a long history of public service as special counsel to Governor Jim Martin. Later, Pope served four terms as a North Carolina State Representative, representing Wake County in then districts 61 and 34 from 1989-1992 and 1999-2002, respectively. Pope served as the State Budget Director under Governor Pat McCrory from 2013-2014. From 2020 through the present, Pope has been a member of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.

Pope has contributed to a number of philanthropic and service organizations for over 30 years. His current service, includes The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (past Chairman), Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University (past Chairman), NCInnovation (Board of Directors) UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions (member) and BEST NC ??? NC Business Leaders for Education (Emeritus Board of Directors). He also served on the Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee (member), and the Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation (board of directors).

Art Pope is the recipient of a host of awards, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and the 2019 William Richardson Davie Award. Pope earned his bachelors with honors in political science and a juris doctor from Duke University. He is married to Kathy Pope, and together they have a blended family with three adult children-Joyce, Earle, and Nick.

His advice to today's college students: "Stay positive, develop the qualities that will make you self-sufficient. Always show respect to others and recognize that great challenges can be met when we collaborate, not just with those who share our perspective, but also with those who disagree."