Becoming Beloved Community
Who’s Who in East Tennessee
Featuring Denise Dean
Denise Dean believes love is a verb and it informs all she does. It is her love for children that led her to start the East Tennessee Freedom Schools (ETFS) where she is the Executive Director. ETFS delivers the Children’s Defense Funds’ Freedom Schools® program that helps children fall in love with reading and engage in social and civic action. They operate three sites, two in Knox County and one in Blount County. She is proud to offer a program that makes a difference and where communities of children and families can learn, love and flourish.
In 2003 Denise left IBM as an executive where she led and worked in the areas of sales, management training, executive coaching, and Organization Development. She left to become an elementary school teacher. She spent her first year of teaching with 5th-grade students in San Jose, CA. In subsequent moves she delivered programs and tutored children at elementary schools in Bethel, Connecticut, Dubai, U.A.E., and here in Knoxville, TN.
Denise’s IBM career, teacher training, and life experience have prepared her well for her current journey. Making the CDF Freedom Schools® program available to children in neighborhoods across East Tennessee is how she will leverage her experience to make a positive difference.
In addition to running ETFS, Denise serves on the boards of Muse Knoxville, the East Tennessee Foundation, the Community Building Institute, and Harmony Family Center. When not working, she enjoys traveling, weight training, swimming, reading, and watching sports and movies. She has also enjoyed a couple of more risky adventures – scuba diving and skydiving.
Denise has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College, a Masters in Organization Development from American University, and a Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Dr. Mark E. Dean.
Our Work with Denise Dean
In 2021, as we prepared East Tennessee for deeper Becoming Beloved Community work and ahead of our diocesan pilgrimage to Selma and Montgomery, Bishop Brian Cole partnered with Ms. Denise Dean, Executive Director of East Tennessee Freedom Schools, to bring a region-wide reading of the late Senator John Lewis’s graphic narrative trilogy March. Their discussion series was engaging and quite popular. We’ve preserved these recordings on our video platforms.