A Georgia native, Dale Webb relocated to Miami as a teenager. Through the Chapman Foundation, she and her family – who can claim several generations of newspaper owners and publishers – are longtime MBF supporters with a focus on children’s and youth programs.
How did the Chapman Foundation come to be a Miami Book Fair supporter – what about our work at the time most resonated with you and the foundation?
Our family has always been very committed to philanthropy – right now there are three generations involved in the foundation – and Book Fair is the only organization we support every year. I think it’s the best event in Miami. We’re all big readers, and crazy news consumers also, obviously. [laughs] The educational and accessibility aspects, and its impact on students, is what drew us to the Fair. There’s also the language thing, and having access to the literature of where you’re living, I think it’s important.
Chapman has consistently supported Generation Genius Authors. Why that program?
We always tell grantees that they need to ask us for what they consider to be the most important thing for them, their greatest need, that fits in with our mission. We don’t want to dictate what the priorities are. GGA was where Book Fair had a need and the program reflects our interests, which include education and children.
Why is supporting cultural institutions like Miami Book Fair so important to our community?
I think having a vibrant cultural community is an indicator of quality of life. I can still remember when we [in Miami] considered ourselves a vast cultural wasteland because there wasn’t that much on a scale of or as serious as what we have now. Book Fair is certainly a part of that, like Art Basel and our museums, like Miami City Ballet. These cultural institutions are bridges for people to connect. If you lack that I don’t think you have an as strongly engaged community, because the contributions of institutions like that are what make us strong. They bring more people together than they separate. And they make a big difference when a company is deciding if it should relocate to Miami and bring with it the people that work for them, and their families.
“Multicultural understanding” and “multiethnic harmony” are two of the grant awarding interests listed on the foundation’s site. How do you think Miami Book Fair supports those ideals?
We have a very diverse community and Book Fair does bring everyone to an actual event, but it also explores the cultures of various peoples in the authors it presents. I’ve learned a lot myself, from literature to cooking that represent a wide range of cultures and countries.
Do you usually attend the Fair in November?
I did until the last couple of years, and I was a volunteer, too. I escorted authors, which was a lot of fun. I’m a bit of a fan geek! [laughs]
What’s been your most memorable Book Fair experience?
There are a few. I met Michelle Berstein – she’s wonderful – and the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I can’t remember his name.
Yes! I had read the book before meeting him and it was fabulous.
Do you take advantage of any MBF programming during the year?
Yes. … I like that there’s a culture around Book Fair that people know there are those other opportunities year-round.
I’d love to know – what are you reading right now?
I’m reading 2034 by Jim Stavridis (MBF21 presenter); he’s a former head at NATO. I like mystery and espionage, and it involves cyberattacks and submarines and airplanes flying into Iran, and all the submarine commanders are women. I like it a lot. My next one up is The Lincoln Highway (MBF21 presenter), by Amor Towles. Everyone’s raving about it.
If you could hear any author speak at the Fair, who would that be and why?
John Le Carré, and I just like hearing Bob Woodward. I’d also like to hear Robert Caro, though I think he may have already been at the Fair; Bob Woodward has. Caro wrote a series of books about Lyndon Johnson and I think I started with one that’s in the middle. I can’t remember why I picked it up, and it was during the time that Johnson was in office. Everyone knew that the Kennedys didn’t like him, and then he became vice president. So the whole story, the way Caro developed it, I felt as if I was right there in the room. It was very intriguing.
One of my favorite authors who has been to Book Fair is Pat Conroy, who was my ex-husband’s roommate in college –
He was always hysterical. So sweet, and I’m sure that he and my dad [would have sparred], because my dad went to the Citadel and one of Pat’s first books was a real knock on the school – which I totally agreed with because they didn’t accept women students – and he’d always tease my ex-husband by saying, “I can’t believe you married her! Her father was a regimental commander for heaven’s sake!” [laughs] He was a real character.