En­gi­neer hon­ours mom with do­na­tion

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - RYAN RUM­BOLT RRum­[email protected]­media.com

Be­fore be­com­ing lead en­gi­neer for the world’s most rec­og­niz­able rideshare com­pany, Con­rad Whe­lan was just a kid grow­ing up in Cal­gary who loved vis­it­ing the li­brary.

After mak­ing his for­tune at Uber, he left the com­pany in 2016 and has been look­ing to be­gin his “phi­lan­thropy jour­ney,” de­cid­ing the best place to start is his old home­town by do­nat­ing $5 mil­lion to the Cal­gary Pub­lic Li­brary Foun­da­tion.

In re­turn, the foun­da­tion has chris­tened the new Cen­tral Li­brary’s con­cert venue the Pa­tri­cia A. Whe­lan Per­for­mance Hall, named after Whe­lan’s mother who died last year.

“She al­ways got us read­ing a lot,” Whe­lan said while re­flect­ing on child­hood me­mories of go­ing to the li­brary with his late mother.

“Read­ing is still a big part of my life. I love books so, for me, li­braries hold such a spe­cial place in my heart.”

He said the tim­ing of the new li­brary’s open­ing was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to hon­our his mother’s mem­ory while giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity he grew up in.

“When this came up, it seemed like it would be an op­por­tu­nity; an all around great thing that fits in with ev­ery­thing I’ve been raised to know and love in this life,” he said.

A pri­vate event with Whe­lan’s fam­ily, friends and col­leagues from the Cal­gary busi­ness com­mu­nity served as a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for the Pa­tri­cia A. Whe­lan Per­for­mance Hall on Fri­day at the new Cen­tral Li­brary.

“It’s just such a beau­ti­ful space,” he said. “That to me is just the most ex­cit­ing thing — just to be there and to see ... peo­ple com­ing in, and what an op­por­tu­nity it is for the city to have such a beau­ti­ful hub and cre­ate a good, vi­brant en­ergy in that part of the down­town core.”

Ellen Humphrey, pres­i­dent and CEO of the li­brary foun­da­tion, said in a state­ment that Whe­lan’s con­tri­bu­tion will help with fu­ture ex­pan­sions and en­hance­ments of pro­grams and ser­vices.

“This is a shift to the way we think about li­braries, learn­ing and lit­er­a­ture,” she said. “Li­braries … have evolved to be crit­i­cal pieces of so­cial and cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port a wide ar­ray of learn­ers.”

Even though he lives in Whistler, B.C., Whe­lan said he still feels a strong con­nec­tion to Cal­gary.

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