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On The Town with Jan Carson – April 2016

T­he Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of President George H.W. Bush will be the featured author at the April 21 “A Celebration of Reading” event at The Hobby Center. Jon Meacham’s Destiny of Power is based on the personal diaries of the former President and Barbara Bush. Joining Meacham on stage are best-selling authors Kelly Corrigan, Brad Meltzer and Scott Simon. Maria and Neil Bush chair the delightful event, benefiting The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and is always a sellout. Reserve your tickets by calling 713-467-2812.


Mardi Gras Gala

University of St. Thomas


Seven of Houston’s most philanthropic ladies joined together to co-chair the 66th annual University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala on Fat Tuesday. The festive evening brought out 600 revelers in beads and masks who helped raise $900,000 for the scholarships that make it possible for 85 percent of students to attend UST. They cheered Rev. Donald Nesti when it was announced that the Center for Faith and Culture will now bear his name in recognition of his founding of the Center and its impact on the community.


1) George Strake and co-chair Annette Strake with the 2016 Mardi Gras Queen and King, Samantha Loos-Polk who is studying nursing and Robert Ramirez who plans to study law.

2) Texas’ First Lady Cecilia Abbott, a UST grad, with Monsignor Frank Rossi at the 66th annual Mardi Gras Gala for the University of St. Thomas.

3) Bart Rollert and Margaret Alkek Williams join Marianne Ivany and UST President Robert Ivany at the Gala, which raised $900,000 for student scholarships.

4) Rosie Carrabba, Ginger Niemann and Jan Duncan (l-r) were part of a powerhouse group of co-chairs that also included Ginger Blanton, Regina Rogers, Annette Strake and Shelley Tortorice.

5) Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel Cardinal DiNardo chatting with guests at the UST gala.




“Hearts In Havana”

American Heart Association


The youngest event chairs in the 33-year history of the American Heart Association’s Houston Heart Ball raised a record-breaking $2.6 million. Lacey and Matthew Goossen exceeded their own ambitious goal, aided by an anonymous gift of $250,000 given that night to help AHA fight heart disease and stroke. Supporters celebrated at the Valentine’s weekend bash by bidding on luxury auction items, and opening their hearts and wallets as they listened to the story of 6-year-old survivor Carly Starr, who was diagnosed with a heart defect at 20 weeks in utero and successfully treated.

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1) John Nau of Silver Eagle Distributors receives the Corporate Honoree award from Heart Ball chairs Lacey and Matthew Goossen.

2) Red-haired 6-year-old Carly Starr shared her battle with a congenital heart defect. With Carly are her mother Christie, father Matt and sister Zoe Starr. Christie told the crowd that AHA funded research helped doctors save her daughter’s life.

3) David Leebron and Y. Ping Son join the Heart Ball’s Community Honorees Molly and Jim Crownover.

4) Shawn and Jennifer Kavoussi and Sonya and Howard Brown celebrated a record-breaking evening, which raised $2.6 million for AHA.

5) Catherine and Dr. John Higgins get cozy in front of a themed character at the “Hearts in Havana” Heart Ball. 


“Paint The Night Pink”

Komen Houston


Twenty-five years of dedicated effort raising funds for breast cancer research was celebrated at Komen Houston’s “Paint the Night Pink” themed gala. Philanthropists Sue and Lester Smith were thrilled to receive The Lifetime of Hope Award, presented by Lester’s daughter Shelly Smith Hendry. Since its founding, Komen Houston has granted over $50 million to fund critical breast cancer research and is now engaged in community health programs aimed at giving underinsured and uninsured women and men access to life saving treatments.

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1) “Paint the Night Pink” event leaders Jane Parker, Trish Hayes, Trish Morille and Tricia Georgiou celebrate Komen Houston’s 25th anniversary, raising more than $300,000 to fund breast cancer research and community health programs.

2) Komen’s Silver Anniversary celebration honored beloved Houston philanthropists Sue and Lester Smith. The couple’s foundation has granted over $100 million to organizations fighting cancer and funding numerous clinics that bear their name, including Smith Clinic at Harris Health System.

3) Guests at “Paint the Night Pink” enjoyed a spicy routine by Latin dancers Lucia Dargam and Tadeo Diaz in honor of the Smiths, who are two-time National Latin Ballroom Dance Champions.

4) Komen Houston founders Gayle McMorrow and Marsha Eckerman recognized the three original grantees: The Rose, represented by Dorothy Gibbons, Dr. Matthew Ellis representing Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi from MD Anderson Hospital.

5) KPRC Local 2’s Khambrel Marshall and Melissa Wilson of FOX 26 demonstrated their longtime commitment to Komen Houston by emceeing the gala. 


Out And About


It takes thousands of volunteers to power the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the top five Trailblazer honorees are featured in this month’s Out and About; along with actor Paul Reiser at The Center’s Annual Luncheon; the retiring CEO of Family Houston; leaders of The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary’; an inspirational Olympic tennis Gold Medalist; and a visiting New York furniture designer.

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1) Five outstanding HLSR volunteers received the 2016 Trailblazer Award for their outstanding volunteer efforts on numerous rodeo committees. They are (l-r) Tricia Koch, Marilyn DeMontrond, Jonnie Steffek, Kathleen Williams and Carol Sawyer.

2) Actor Paul Reiser, whose has a son with cerebral palsy, headlined The Center’s 15th Annual Luncheon and spoke about his book Familyhood. Allison Rosenberg shared the stage, relating her rewarding experience living at The Center.

3) Celebration of Families Luncheon Chair Jennifer Gravenor presents a city proclamation honoring Nyla K. Woods, who is retiring as CEO of Family Houston after 24 years of guiding the organization’s programs and outreach services.

4) Ginger Blanton, chair of the April 12th “Reflections of Style Luncheon” joins Tea Chair Merele Yarborough, Pam Sengelman and Maureen Higdon at The Salvation Army Woman’s Auxiliary Spring Tea at Neiman Marcus.

5) John Embree with two-time Olympic tennis Gold Medalist Gigi Fernandez, who shared stories of her climb to becoming the No. 1 doubles player in the world. The Game, Set, Match Gala benefits disadvantaged young tennis hopefuls through the Houston Tennis Association.

6) Acclaimed New York designer Thomas O’Brien recently visited Meredith O’Donnell Fine Furniture to introduce his new collection from Century Furniture. Guests from Houston and The Woodlands enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from Masraffs as Thomas autographed his latest two books. His other collections include Reed & Barton, Waterworks, and Visual Comfort. (L-R) Meredith O’Donnell, Thomas O’Brien and Amy Robinson with Houston Lifestyles & Homes.


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Please e-mail me your latest information and party pics at jan@jancarson.com.

On The Town with Jan Carson April 2016

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