Tom Low, CEO and co-founder of Lee & Low Books, has died, the company announced.
After running his own temporary personnel agency, Low founded Lee & Low in 1991 with Philip Lee to publish multicultural literature for children.
Philip Lee, who left the company in 2004, said, "It was a joy and privilege to be his partner in starting Lee & Low. He was a great friend, mentor, and visionary. It meant a lot to him to build a company that would promote diversity, encourage new voices, and nurture a new generation of publishing professionals."
The company said, "Tom was an out-of-the-box thinker who helped forge a unique path for Lee & Low when there was no obvious model to follow. Coming from outside the industry enabled him to look at every facet of book publishing from a fresh perspective, which made it easier to depart from traditional norms. His sharp business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit guided Lee & Low's growth and helped the company continue to adapt through many changes in the industry.
"Tom was especially proud of Lee & Low's work supporting new talent, particularly creators of color, and always had a special place in his heart for debut books. Some notable authors who got their start with Lee & Low include Caldecott Medalist Javaka Steptoe, Pura Belpré Author Award winner Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and six-time Coretta Scott King Honor recipient R. Gregory Christie, to name a few. Tom was also instrumental in the creation of the company's New Voices Award, an annual writing contest for unpublished authors of color, now in its 21st year."
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be no memorial service in the near future. Well-wishers are encouraged to send a donation to one of Low's favorite charities: The Fresh Air Fund, Scenic Hudson, or North Shore Animal League America. Condolence cards can be sent to the Low Family c/o Lee & Low Books, 95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.