Meet the Board of Directors of Children's Books Ireland.
Jane Alger, Secretary
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; Reader in Residence and Babies Love Books. Jane was appointed to the board in November 2016.
Elaine Deegan has significant professional experience in public policy, research and governance including through a number of senior research and policy roles in the Houses of the Oireachtas. She has a lifelong interest in reading and, in particular, access to books and reading for all children. Elaine joined the board in October 2021.
Niamh Feeney Stonehouse
Niamh Feeney Stonehouse is a book lover and an activist. As a member of Together for Yes, she focused on supporting campaign groups around the country. Since then she has been Secretary and a board member of the Abortion Rights Campaign. She has worked in the tech sector for 14 years, and has spent the last 10 building sustainable organisations. As a queer parent and a Gaeilgeoir, she is passionate about ensuring every child sees themself represented in a book. Niamh joined the board in October 2021.
Eddie Murtagh is a former Assistant Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Skills, a role which encompassed coordinating professional advice to senior policy makers across a broad range of areas including curriculum, assessment, teacher education and national and international research. He was head of the Department's Evaluation Support and Research Unit, which managed the design of a range of evaluation models. He was responsible for managing the development of a national strategy to improve national standards of reading and mathematics and also advising on programmes to support children who experience difficulties in learning to read and write. A current member of the Board of Directors of the Educational Research Centre, Eddie joined our board in 2016.
John O’Donnell’s poetry and fiction has been widely published. 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 organisations (including Dublin Theatre Festival and the Arts Council) and is currently a board member of Fishamble Theatre Company. A senior counsel, he lives and works in Dublin. John joined the board in November 2016.
Anne O'Gorman is an arts manager with a specialism in children’s and young people’s arts provision. Anne holds an MA in Arts Management and Cultural Policy and a Diploma in Transformative Leadership. She was Irish Animateur at the European Drama Encounter in 2004 and a member of the selection committee for Laureate na nOg in 2010 and 2016. She joined the board in September 2019.
Patrick Thorpe, Chair
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.
Mary Watson writes young adult and adult fiction. Originally from South Africa, Mary moved to Galway in 2009. Before writing full time, she worked as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town where she received her PhD. A mother of three boys, she is interested in issues that affect children’s reading, including diversity and representation in children’s fiction. She won the Caine Prize and has been shortlisted in the An Post IBAS, and for the Rolex Protégé Programme. Mary joined the board in October 2021.
With extensive experience in project development and management in the Education, Business, Arts and NGO sectors, her strengths are in targeted networking, developing policies, identifying new areas of opportunity and demonstrating passion! Sarah is a storyteller, a collaborator and a strategic networker, who is the Development Manager with the DCU Educational Trust, supporting the philanthropic side of the University. Sarah joined the board in September 2019.