Change Sings At The SAFE Storybook Gala

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Konstantin Belyshev and Justin Rouhier

THE SETTING: The Omni Barton Creek Resort in Austin was the recent setting for a night of fun and fundraising. Over 600 attendees were on hand for the annual SAFE Storybook Gala. The cocktail-attired crowd began the evening with drinks in the foyer outside the venue’s ballroom. Guests were encouraged to wear their favorite attire to showcase their musical flair as a nod to the theme of the evening, Change Sings. As partygoers sipped on their favorite spirits, they had the opportunity to peruse silent auction items, receive a personalized poem courtesy of Typewriter Rodeo, and mingle with other revelers.


THE STYLE: The festivities then moved into the ballroom for the main program. As guests dined on their delicious multi-course meals, they were treated to highly impactful testimonials from the organization’s leaders and those who have benefitted from SAFE’s services. Next came a spirited live auction with many fabulous items, the highlight of which was a private in-home dining experience with Uchiko’s Tyson Cole, which sold twice for $30,000 each.


The evening was capped off by giving the SAFE Guardian Award to Frankie Fowler, who was recognized for her tireless contributions to the organization. Upon receiving the award, she was surprised by an onstage performance by the Austin Chapter of the Texas Gospel Choir, whose beautiful songs brought tears to the eyes of many, and the crowd to their feet, ending the evening on a high note.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Pamela Benson Owens and Diane Land, raised over $900,000 for The SAFE Alliance. Funds raised from the event will provide services for children and adults of abuse, including shelter, face-to-face and digital support, advocacy, prevention, and educational programs.



Houston Zoo’s Centennial Ball Is Smashing Success

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Daniel Ortiz

THE SETTING: A record-breaking crowd of more than 700 Houstonians dressed in black tie, gowns, and glamour joined together for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of 100 years of the Houston Zoo. Guests met and mingled among live animals, including a North American porcupine, a tarantula, and an American alligator, before entering the tented Masihara Pavilion, which had been turned into a gorgeous and elegant al fresco ballroom. City Kitchen served a delectable, multi-course dinner, which was followed by a spirited live auction.


THE STYLE: The evening was filled with sentiment and animal love as Houston Zoo President and CEO Lee Ehmke expressed how truly remarkable it was for the Houston Zoo to reach its centennial anniversary and, above all, to celebrate the momentous occasion with the zoo’s closest friends and supporters. He honored Kathrine McGovern for always seeing the Zoo’s potential and turning dreams into reality. He emphasized how the smiles and laughter of Zoo visitors, especially children, are a powerful reminder that her generosity will bring joy and inspiration for generations to come. The after party was chaired by Chita and Lane Craft, with the Georgia Bridgewater Orchestra keeping revelers dancing past midnight.


THE PURPOSE: This year’s sold-out event, hosted by co-chairs Kelli and John Weinzierl and Kelley and Stephen Lubanko, and honoring Kathrine McGovern, raised $2.3 million to support the Houston Zoo. Highlights of the live auction included naming rights for the Zoo’s Galapagos tortoise, which sold twice for $47,000 after a lively bidding war.



Witte Museum Hosts 52nd Annual Witte Game Dinner

By Jake Gaines Photography by Trisha Lindsey Photography and Parish Photography

THE SETTING: More than 850 of San Antonio’s community leaders and philanthropists, dressed in their finest western attire, gathered to enthusiastically support the Witte Museum at the 52nd Annual Witte Game Dinner, presented by Embrey. The event’s theme, A Prickly Pear Affair, reflected a bountiful return, represented by the sumptuous pear of the cactus, from the prickly period of the pandemic. And it was a bountiful evening indeed, with an abundance of delicious South Texas game cuisine by The RK Group, cocktails, and spirited conversation.

THE STYLE: Attendees entered through the Valero Great Hall at the Witte Museum, adorned with cacti and bathed in hues of pink and green, where they had photos taken and socialized with friends during a cocktail hour that filled the museum campus. As they sipped on prickly pear margaritas, available throughout the galleries, the attendees re-connected with friends and enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres and the famous Gordita stations to whet their appetites for what was to come.

The celebration continued to the Mays Family Center for the main event. Susan Naylor, The Feik Family Foundation, and SWBC were honored with Texas Heritage awards for their transformational support of the Witte Museum and visionary leadership in the city and across the state of Texas, as attendees enjoyed a multi-course meal including chicken fried quail, venison enchiladas and bison sliders. A robust live auction followed, with guests enthusiastically bidding before Cory Morrow provided the live music as the event’s revelry continued into the night.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Margaret and Ryan Pape and supported by a superstar committee, is the Witte Museum’s largest annual fundraiser, providing funding for the museum’s education programs, operations and exhibitions. SWBC announced a significant gift to underwrite the Land Stewardship Ambassador program, and other funds raised will support the Witte’s efforts to care for irreplaceable collections, advance new research and help ensure nearly 350,000 school-aged children and their families can experience all the museum has to offer, both in person and remotely.



Mumford & Sons Headlines Waterloo Greenway Conservancy’s Gala

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Tyler Schmitt, Mill Photography Studio

THE SETTING: A picture-perfect fall evening at Waterloo Greenway Park in downtown Austin was the recent setting for a fabulous night of dining and music al fresco for a worthy cause. Over 700 of the city’s most notable sociables, philanthropists, and community leaders were on hand for the second annual Glow in the Park, which has quickly become one of the most anticipated events of the fall social season.


THE STYLE: The attire? It was “cocktail with a twist” as partygoers mixed cocktail gowns and suits with sneakers that were ideal for the evening’s festivities. The cocktail hour was held on the concourse of the Moody Amphitheatre under a beautiful and shaded tree canopy, where patrons mingled as they brimmed with anticipation for all the fun ahead.


The festivities then moved down to the lawn of the Moody Amphitheatre for the main program, where partygoers gasped as they descended the stairs onto the lawn, which had been transformed into a stunning al fresco ballroom. As guests dined on a delectable family-style meal courtesy of MML hospitality, they were treated to words by the organization’s leaders, as community leaders Gary Farmer and Chris Mattson were honored for their dedication to the venue.


Next came a live auction and paddles up that raised over $500,000 and included such notable items as a Party Like a Rockstar experience at the Moody Amphitheatre, an International Foodie Lovers trip, and a dinner with world-renowned chef Mathew Peters, being among the most popular. The evening was capped off with a show-stopping performance by Mumford & Sons, whose tunes brought the crowd to their feet and ensured the fun lasted well into the night.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Sabrina Brown and Jamie Chandlee, with Susan and Gary Farmer and Chris Mattson serving as honorary chairs, raised over $1.9 million for the Waterloo Greenway Conservancy. Funds raised from the event provide free programs and access to the 11-acre public greenspace located in downtown Austin, which includes one and a half miles of scenic trails, playscapes, and the world-class 5,000 seat capacity Moody Amphitheatre.



Alexis Williams & Alex Barry Exchange Nuptials

By Rob Giardinelli         Photography by Remi Dupac

It is a classic story of modern-day Texas. Two people move from places outside of Texas to Austin, one of the most desired cities in the world. The two initially connect via the dating app, Bumble, yet the fellow instinctively knows that the lass is the one for him. Instead of waiting for her to reply, he heads to another well-known app, Instagram, to direct message her, and, as they say in all great love stories, the rest is history. Thus begins the love story of Alexis Williams, the daughter of Amber Williams and Kurt Williams of Portland, Oregon, and Alex Barry, the son of Mary and Tom Barry of Dublin, Ireland.

Once together, the adventurous couple was immediately drawn to one another. “I knew that we would get along. Even if things don’t go to plan, we are always a good team,” recalls the groom, Alex Barry, upon first meeting his future bride. Meanwhile, Alexis was drawn to their shared interests and beliefs. “I chose Alex because our values and beliefs align. He is kind, loyal, and genuine. Plus, we have so much fun together,” mused the bride.

The couple, who share a love of sports and the outdoors had dated for three and a half years when the groom popped the question on a hike in Austin. “It was right after the 100-year ice storm in February 2021,” recalls Alexis Barry. “We went on our hike with a beautiful overlook. He got down on one knee and popped the question with the sweetest speech. My dream man in my dream city. I was over the moon happy.”

The bride and groom were engaged for 18 months, and during that time, the couple decided France was the place they wanted to marry. After touring nine different wedding venues around the country, they found the perfect spot at Chateau de la Napoule, a 14th-century castle on the Mediterranean Sea in Cannes. The wedding was a two-day affair, which is traditional with Irish weddings. The first day featured the wedding itself, held al fresco on the grounds of the chateau. The shades of pink color palette created a bright and whimsical balance to the Medieval architecture of the venue. Âme Luxury Events planned the wedding festivities. The couple’s first dance was the most memorable part of the day. The bride and groom had hired a dance instructor to teach them a routine, which was performed to an acoustic version of the song, Cinema. After a few choruses, the music transitioned into a faster, electronic version to get the party started.

Keeping with the Irish wedding customs, the second day of the celebration featured a more casual party than the wedding day itself. Friends and family donned their finest summer white ensembles for a Sunset Beach Party at the Riviera Beach Club in Cannes. “There is nothing chicer than being in all white at a beach club on the French Riviera,” mused the bride. The fun continued at the beach club until about 1:00 AM, when a large part of the group headed to one of the hottest clubs in Cannes, Baoli, to dance the night away, capping off two days of pure love and joy.

The couple, already in their favorite country in the world, stayed in France for their honeymoon for an additional week by spending time in the Provence countryside. They live in Austin, where the bride is an interior designer, and the groom works in finance.