Society / The Seen

Houston’s Spring Party Season Sets Records With Millions and Millions Raised — The Society Scene Gets Hotter

These Are the Bashes That Left Everyone Talking

BY // 06.03.24

This spring party season proved to bring not only the busiest ever month of charitable fundraisers, but also a rollicking run of high six and seven figure fundraisers. With it all serving as a testament to the generous philanthropy that is such an integral part of Houston’s social fabric.

Big winners PaperCity already reported on include the Memorial Hermann Foundation Gala ringing in $4.8 million; Houston Classical Charter School “Foundational Dinner” earning $1.75 million; Houston Grand Opera’s “Mirror Ball” raising $1.3 million; Holocaust Museum Houston’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award dinner bringing in $1.3 million; Make a Wish Foundation raised $1.7 million, Victory rang in $1.5 million for cancer research in Houston, and the JDRF “Promise Ball” rocked $2.8 million in proceeds.

Texas Children’s Hospital “An Evening With Legends” dinner earning $1.25 million; the University of St. Thomas gala coming in at $1.8 million; MD Anderson Cancer Center’s “Conversation with a Living Legend” evening at $1.5 million; the Bayou Bend weekend of partying at $1 million; “A Celebration of Reading” pulling in more than $2 million  for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation; Memorial Park Conservancy “The Park Ball” recording a record $1.25 million in proceeds and the Alley Theatre “Dial M for Murder” gala raising a cool $1.2 million

Make a Wish Foundation raised $1.7 million, Victory rang in $1.5 million for cancer research in Houston, and the JDRF “Promise Ball” rocked $2.8 million in proceeds.

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Alley Theatre Resident Company Member Chris Salazar emceed the Alley gala as Alfred Hitchcock. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Now let’s take a look at more of the notable events that made this Houston spring party season a record breaking one:

Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Reflections on Style Luncheon

Lilly Andress, Ann Bookout, Reflections on Style
Lilly Andress and Ann Bookout chair the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary ‘Reflections on Style’ luncheon (Photo by Jenny Antill)

For the 20th anniversary of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Reflections on Style luncheon and sales, the team continued the tradition of remarkable proceeds, this year bringing in $1.2 million for Salvation Army programs. Helming the luncheon were chairs Lilly Andress and Ann Bookout with an assist from Showroom Chairs Gayle Eury and Stick Delape and Chic Boutique chairs Amanda Gelb and Louise Chehlaoui.

More than 500 people packed the River Oaks Country Club ballroom where Michelle Baine, chair of the very first Reflections on Style luncheon in 2004, was the distinguished honoree.

Small Steps Wine Classic

Mark & Connally Burroughs and Robyn & Embry Canterbury 2 2
Small Steps Wine Classic chairs Mark & Connally Burroughs and Robyn & Embry Canterbury (Photo by Brian Kennedy)

This 14th annual wine dinner raised a record $1 million for Small Steps Nurturing Center, which operates two preschools for economically at-risk children living in the Fifth Ward and Gulfton/Sharpstown neighborhoods of Houston. The effort was led by chairs Connally and Mark Burroughs and Robyn and Embry Canterbury.

The 580 supporters gathered at The Revaire for a four course dinner with corresponding wines and a program led by Everywine CEO Ryan Cooper.

The Bryan Museum Coastal Cowboys Gala

Bryan Museum Executive Director Melissa Williams Murphy, museum founders J.P. & Mary Jon Bryan (Photo by Dave Rossman)
Bryan Museum Executive Director Melissa Williams Murphy, museum founders J.P. & Mary Jon Bryan (Photo by Dave Rossman)

Gala chairs Kelley Sullivan Georgiades and George Georgiades led the charge that raised $900,000 for the Bryan Museum’s mission to support its education, exhibition and outreach programs on Galveston island and throughout Texas. As is tradition, the gala took place in the Galveston museum.

The evening honored fifth generation Galveston rancher and member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Gerald Sullivan with the Buck ‘n’ Bull Award for his history-changing achievements during his career in the American West.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston Great Futures Gala

Kroger Houston president Laura Urquiza Gump, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston president and CEO Kevin, Great Futures Gala chair Michelle Young. (Photo by Jacob Power)
Kroger Houston president Laura Urquiza Gump, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston president and CEO Kevin, Great Futures Gala chair Michelle Young. (Photo by Jacob Power)

With the Walk a Mile in My Shoes theme, the 500 attending the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston annual Great Futures Gala were encouraged to wear sneakers to the Hilton Americas-Houston event. Proceeds nudged up to an impressive $900,000 thanks to the work of chair Michelle Young and a sponsorship from Kroger.

KIPP Sharpstown Club Soul Sisters Steppers entertained while Ressa Bartley, director of the Wharton-Dobson Club, provided a testimonial on the clubs’ mission of helping students overcome challenges and inspiring them to achieve success.

Yellowstone Schools Party in the Park

Screenshot 2024-06-02 at 5.10.53 PM
Yellowstone 2024 Party in the Park chairs Paul & Suzy Thompson and Lauren & Jack Burgher. (Photo by Lindsey Lambert of Chris Bailey Photographer)

Yellowstone Schools’ sixth annual Party in the Park, chaired by Lauren and Jack Burgher and Suzy and Paul Thompson, earned more than $778,000 for Yellowstone schools in the Third Ward. Neighborhood kids, including those dealing with generational poverty, are educated through a unique faith-based private Pre-K to fifth grade lower school, and a public upper school (growing to 12th grade) on one campus.

The evening honored honored Anne and Les Csorba and Janet and Brad Childers. The couples have supported Yellowstone since its founding 21 years ago and chaired the successful Yellowstone. Forever capital campaign.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Houston Gala

St.Jude Hospital gala Neil Michaelsen
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Houston Gala chairs Neil Michaelsen & Erica Billingsley-Michaelsen (Photo by Jacob Powers)

With Erica Billingsley-Michaelsen and Neil Michaelsen at the helm, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital gala raised $730,000 during a dinner evening at The Revaire. The evening featured a testimonial from local St. Jude patient family from Austin.

Performing Arts Houston Kaleidoscope Ball

Performing Arts Houston gala chair Lance Reynolds, Performing Arts Houston CEO Meg Booth, honoree Jay Jones, gala chair Kristin Reynolds (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Performing Arts Houston gala chair Lance Reynolds, Performing Arts Houston CEO Meg Booth, honoree Jay Jones, gala chair Kristin Reynolds (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Mariposas de Guadalajara served as the colorful theme of Performing Arts Houston’s annual Kaleidoscope Ball held in the Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center. Chairs Kristin and Lance Reynolds led the evening to $700,000 in proceeds. Philanthropist and community leader Jay Jones was the honoree.

Entertainment included performances by Kinder HSPVA Mariachi Neuvo Jalisco and the Segundo Barrio Children’s Chorus and dinner music from guitarist Jesus Lozano, an instructor at MECA Houston. The evening concluded with a performance from Latin Grammy winner Magos Herrera followed by Arter-Party fun on the dance floor until 1 am with DJ Nick Serena.

KNOWAutism Foundation An Enchanted Evening Gala

James and Niki Lassiter, Miss America Madison Marsh, Tara and Kurt Arnold
KNOWAutism gala chairs James & Niki Lassiter, Miss America 2024 Madison Marsh, honorees Tara & Kurt Arnold

Former beauty queen and actress Niki Lassiter and James Lassiter led the KNOWAutism Foundation gala to proceeds of $700,000 on a night that saw the Royal Sonesta Ballroom transformed to meet the An Enchanted Evening theme. 2024 Miss America Madison Marsh appeared as the special guest.

The evening honored Tara and Kurt Arnold with the Humanitarian Heroes Award and Dr. Lucky Chopra with the Corporate and Community Hero Award. The HUB Houston was presented with the Sippi & Ajay Khurana Frontline Hero Award.

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