Madeline Barrios has been with Jackson Health System for 15 years, where she currently serves in the communications and outreach department as the associate director for community outreach and special events. She was raised and educated in Miami – as was her husband – and is a proud mom to two teenage boys.
Jackson supports a lot of organizations in Miami – how did Book Fair get on that list?
When I started at Jackson we had a very small team, but as soon as the team and our budget started growing and affording us the ability to do more sponsorships, I said, “Hey, why don’t we do something with Book Fair?” People come from all over and it’s a great opportunity for us to promote our services, and since our budget is still relatively small, we look for things that’ll give us the biggest bang for our buck, things that allow us to reach as many members of the community as possible. Book Fair is one of those things. Miami is known for large-scale events like concerts, but that’s not the kind of venue we want to be in – we want to be in more family-oriented spaces with folks of all ages. And the team at MBF is amazing! Corey is always offering up different ideas – he’s very creative and flexible – so it’s been a great partnership.
Why is supporting cultural institutions like Miami Book Fair important?
I see it this way – when we’re looking to sponsor events in the community, I always think about the kinds of things I would want to experience with my own family, that I’d want to bring them to. So why not, if families are coming to those kinds of events, have them learn about Jackson, and about the services that are here for them and how to be healthy.
How does MBF’s work align with your own thoughts on access to literary culture?
I’m a Book Fair fan – I’ve been going for years and my husband and I are both big book lovers – and it’s always been extremely important to me and my husband that our sons read. I’ve always told them that it doesn’t matter what they read, it doesn’t have to be super complicated, just as long as they’re reading and learning new things. “You like video games? Find some books on video games.” And they did. Learning how to appreciate a good book – no matter what it is – is what’s important.
Do you usually attend the Fair in November?
Every year. Even If I have to work the Fair, I work the Fair, but we always have at least one day where we go together as a family to enjoy it. When my sons were younger they loved going to Children’s Alley. It’s so engaging for the kids; no matter what the activity is or which organization is presenting it, it’s always so well thought out, so engaging. My sons would run around from one section to the next getting this bookmark or that thing checked off, getting free books – they really enjoyed it. I never had to drag them to Children’s Alley! [laughs] And I love going through Street Fair and hearing the music and seeing all the things the vendors bring.
What’s a highlight of Jackson’s sponsorship of MBF?
Getting to bring authors to the hospital to read to the kids.
Very cool. The kids love it.
What were your sons’ favorite books when they were little?
My youngest really liked all the Mo Willems books. To this day, whenever we’re clearing stuff out of the house to donate, the Mo Willems books are the one thing he won’t part with. My older son loved Harry Potter.
And what about you – what was your favorite book as a kid?
As a teenager, the Judy Blume books, definitely.
If you could hear any author speak at the Fair, who would it be?
Michelle Obama. I haven’t read her latest book, but that’s what’s going to be next.