Our Board

Jane Alger is the former Director of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, a position she held from 2010 when the city achieved the designation until 2016. A librarian by profession, Jane is a firm believer in encouraging children to read for pleasure and among the initiatives she started while working with Dublin City Libraries are the Citywide Reading Programme for Children (similar to One City One Book); Reader in Residence, a scheme which links libraries, schools, children and their families; and Babies Love Books which became a national Millennium Year project. She was Dublin City Libraries’ Chief Stock Buyer for many years and started the highly successful Dublin: One City One Book festival as well as the first Readers’ Day in Ireland – still an annual event for book club members 15 years later! Jane was appointed to the board in November 2016.

Irene Barber is a founder member and past president of CBI. In her various roles in primary education (class teacher, special needs teacher, teacher-librarian and school principal) she has enjoyed the great pleasure of bringing good books to new audiences. She is a passionate believer in providing young people with knowledge about and access to the widest range of quality books in all genres. Through its interaction with the gate keepers, in particular with teachers and librarians, she believes that CBI can play a key role in this. In recognition of her contribution to children’s books in Ireland, Irene was awarded the CBI Award in 2010. Irene was elected to the board at the AGM in May 2011.

Valerie Coghlan (Chair) is an Independent Researcher and Lecturer, with a particular interest in Visual Narratives and in Irish Children’s Literature. She is a founder member of a number of children’s literature organizations in Ireland, including CBI. A former review editor of Inis, Executive Editor of International Research in Children’s Literature and co-editor of Bookbird, she is currently President of the board of Bookbird, Inc. She has published widely, in Ireland and internationally, and has served on the board of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. Valerie was awarded an honorary doctorate by Trinity College Dublin, and the CBI Award, both for her services to children’s literature. Valerie was elected to the board at the AGM in May 2013.

David Field has 17 years of senior management experience and has held a number of marketing positions. Most recently as Marketing Director at Brown Thomas, part of the Selfridges Group, he repositioned the brand, delivered integrated marketing plans across key categories in addition to developing a tourism strategy, which was a critical sales driver. Prior to joining the luxury retailer, David led the repositioning strategy at Eason where he was Head of E-commerce, Marketing and Innovation. Under his guidance, Eason’s transformed and modernised as the 125-year-old brand introduced a loyalty programme, online initiatives and a successful rebrand across the business. David is passionate about retail and has built up vast experience in this industry. He was Retail Director at Fresh, the good food market for two and half years, and developed strong supplier relations and worked collaboratively to deliver the commercial and operational strategies.  David also worked with Glanbia in a product marketing role and started his career at Superquinn, where he spent six years learning the key skills in retail and customer engagement. David was elected to the board at the AGM in September 2015.

Katy Fitzpatrick has a BA in History of Art and Italian, UCD, an MA in Visual Arts Education, NCAD, and is currently undertaking a PhD with the Education Department at Maynooth University. Her PhD research is focused on an ongoing project called Art and Philosophy in the Classroom, which she has been developing since October 2013 in collaboration with Dr Aislinn O’Donnell. Katy has worked for over 13 years in arts education, in particular in gallery education, and has held positions in Tate London, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, as Acting Adviser to The Arts Council’s Young People Children and Education team, and was a co-opted member of the Junior Cycle Art, Craft, Design Development Group. She has also lectured at Marino Institute of Education and tutored on the Professional Masters in Education programme at Maynooth University. Katy was appointed to the board in November 2016.

Patricia Forde (Vice-chair) is a full-time writer for children and young people from Galway. She has extensive experience of working in the arts, having been Director of Galway International Arts Festival for five years, and founding Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. She is a fluent Irish speaker and writes books and television programmes in Irish and in English. She is also a qualified Primary School teacher. Patricia advises on Irish language issues and on the needs of writers on the CBI board. Having served on many arts boards she is also interested in governance and the long-term development of CBI. Patricia was co-opted to the board in October 2014.

Conor Hackett is a graduate of The College of Marketing and Design, Conor Hackett has a background in bookselling and publishing.  He was sales and marketing manager for Poolbeg Press and associated client publishers from 1996 to 1999.  He set up the HackettFlynn publishers agency in 1999 specialising in the sales and marketing of children’s books in Ireland.  He initiated the Walker Books Irish Language imprint, Walker Eireann and acts in a consultative role with a number of organisations and schools advocating the benefits of extracurricular reading for children. Connor was elected to the board at the AGM in May 2014.

Eileen Jackson is Principal of a primary school where children’s reading for pleasure is celebrated and encouraged in numerous ways. She is a former member of the Church of Ireland Board of Education, and, more recently, of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland where she was a member of its Development and Corporate Committee. Eileen is currently a member of the Early Childhood and Primary Board of the NCCA. She avidly supports the development of school libraries, and recommends schools’ membership of Children’s Books Ireland. Eileen was elected to the board at the AGM in September 2015.

David Murphy is Business Editor of Ireland’s public service broadcaster RTÉ. He is a journalist, documentary-maker and author. He was winner of a New York Festival award in 2016 his documentary on businessman Tony O’Reilly. He was awarded Business Journalist of the Year award in 2008 and 2010 from the University College Dublin. He is co-author of the number-one best seller Banksters, a non-fiction account of the Irish banking collapse. He has a MSc in Economic Policy Studies from Trinity College, a MA in Journalism from Dublin City University and a BA in Spanish and Classical Civilisation from Trinity College. David leads a dynamic team of business journalists and has spearheaded an expansion into social media and extended coverage of business and economic affairs in Ireland. David was elected to the board of CBI at the AGM in May 2013.

Eddie Murtagh is a former Assistant Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Skills and past president of the Reading Association of Ireland. Eddie was appointed to the board in November 2016.

John O’Donnell’s poetry and fiction has been published and broadcast widely. Awards include the National Irish Poetry Prize, the Ireland Funds Prize, the Hennessy Award for Poetry, and the Hennessy Award for Fiction. Previously a board member of various other organizations (including Dublin Theatre Festival and the Arts Council) he is also currently a board member of Fishamble Theatre Company. A senior counsel, he lives and works in Dublin. John was appointed to the board in November 2016.

Patrick Thorpe is a chartered accountant by training holding an honours degree in Accounting and Finance from Dublin City University. Patrick also holds an MBA with distinction from Trinity College. Patrick is presently a consultant to and founding investor in a number of trading companies. Patrick works with a small number of not for profits in personal areas of interest. Patrick was appointed to the board in March 2017.