There are two new faces in the Madison Public Library Foundation office this year, and Wisconsin Book Festival Director Conor Moran officially shifted from a consulting role onto the foundation staff. Here’s a quick Q&A with each of them.
Conor Moran, Book Festival Director
Family: My wife, Molly, and I live on the east side, where we own the store Table Wine. Our daughter, Larkin, is an avid reader and will begin first grade in the fall.
Education: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2007. I then went to Washington, D.C., to become a lawyer and ended up working at an amazing bookstore instead.
What do you love the most about the Wisconsin Book Festival? If you’ve been to a Book Festival event, odds are you’ve heard me talk about the uniqueness of book events as a cultural experience. Far and away, my favorite part of the Wisconsin Book Festival is the sight of people at every event interacting with an author or topic they deeply care about. No matter the subject or the time of year, when the crowd gathers and the author starts speaking, the air in the room changes and another connection is made.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you: I’m a slow reader.
Favorite book: Favorites are often hard, but the book I’ve reread the most times since college and find myself recommending the most often is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It’s not so much a whodunnit as a whydunnit in a wonderfully fascinating way.
Favorite checkout item at the library: My daughter is in elementary school, so we’re doing our best to get our fair share of the children’s collection at Central.
Tracy Phillippi, Foundation Manager
Hometown: Wautoma, Wisconsin. I grew up on our 600-acre family onion farm.
Family: I’ve got a hubby named James and two mischievous boys, Henry (3) and Simon (1). Oh, and a lovable mutt named Oliver.
Education: Bachelor’s in mass communications, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; master’s in food and agricultural policy, York University, Toronto, Ontario
What do you love the most about Madison Public Library? I love how Madison Public Library is a safe and inclusive place for our citizens to grow and engage with the world around them. The library also offers great (FREE!) programs for my children, our all-time favorite being Drag Queen Storytime last summer.
Hobbies: Travel, yoga, eating cheese, gardening and hiking with my family
Tell us something most people don’t know about you. I am a Certified Cicerone (think sommelier of beer), and teach beer courses at Madison College. I’m also a backyard maple syrup producer.
Favorite book: My all-time favorite book series is The Lord of the Rings. I look forward to sharing this magical world with my boys one day.
Recent checkout item at the library: I checked out Titan by Ron Chernow. It’s a 700-page book that got me through a 12-hour flight to Vietnam.
Karrah Staats, Development Officer
Hometown: Middleton, Wis.
Family: Husband, Paul
Education: B.S. in community and nonprofit leadership with a certificate in global health from UW-Madison
What do you love the most about Madison Public Library? I just really love to read! My mom was getting her master’s degree as a reading teacher when I was 4 years old, so as early as I can remember, I always had a book in my hand, and now, I usually have one in my purse. I like a wide variety of books and am usually reading multiple different books at a time. As such, I’m so grateful to have the library as a place where I can find an endless number of books about whatever I’m feeling that day.
Hobbies: I enjoy running, traveling (we are avid road trippers!) and spending time with my nearby family, especially my two nieces.
While I wouldn’t call myself an artist, I also always love having a creative outlet. I find great joy in graphic design, floral design, and interior/event decorating and planning.
Favorite book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Favorite checkout item at the library: Autobiographies! I really enjoy reading about people’s lives and the steps they took to accomplish what they did in life. I think there is something so unique and interesting about one’s own perspective and self-awareness.