Texas Ties Support New Era Of International Philanthropy

By Sharon King Hoge    Photography courtesy of American Friends of Versailles

Alicia Bryan has been named President of The American Friends of Versailles. A native of San Antonio, she is already planning events to promote Franco-American relations and raise funds to help restore and preserve the historic Château. For the first three days of June 2024, patrons will gather at Versailles for a picnic on the palace grounds and a grand Gala des Fleurs d’Oranger in the Chateau’s giant Indoor “greenhouse” L’Orangerie.

Historic renovation is not new to Bryan, who with her father, J.D. Bryan, restored the Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX, which was voted #1 Hotel in Texas by Condé Nast Traveler. The Bryans are currently involved in the building and design of an additional 50 rooms at the hotel and were instrumental in designing its famous White Buffalo Bar, also known as the “Best Hotel Bar” in the state. Another instance of the Bryan family’s legacy in the state is The Bryan Museum in Galveston.

Alicia Bryan was elected President at the AFV’s annual meeting held this year in October in Chicago. Greeted by AFV Founder and Chairman Emeritus Catharine Hamilton at a reception in the French paneled rooms of her high-rise residence, AFV guests then proceeded to the elegant private Casino Club nearby for a candlelight dinner.

After an early morning private tour of the renowned Impressionist collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, guided by celebrated Curator Gloria Groom, the group progressed to the meeting at the Chicago Racquet Club where Bryan was introduced to international members present and by video livestream.

A luncheon in the Club’s Lounge room concluded the proceedings with members looking forward to joining friends from around the globe at the events next summer in Paris. For more information on the American Friends of Versailles and how you can support it, visit



By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Jojo Korsh and Zach Hilty/

THE SCENE: A picture-perfect summer night, at the base of Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, was the recent setting that capped off an incredible week of art and fundraising. Over 500 of the world’s most notable art patrons, collectors, and philanthropists were on hand for the 18th annual ArtCrush Gala. The event was the grand finale of the third annual Aspen Art Week featured great food, fantastic conversation, and fabulous art.

THE VIBE: The black-tie crowd featured an elegant mix of black ensembles and bright colors, creating a fun, welcoming environment for all. Many chose to wear ensembles by Prada as a nod to one of the evening’s title sponsors who helped make the event happen. After patrons posed for photos on the red carpet, they proceeded to a lively cocktail hour where guests sipped on their favorite spirits while mingling with other guests.

The evening fun was mixed with some good-natured suspense with patrons keeping track of online auction items on their phones. The online auction featured an impressive lot of 60 items which included works by Korakrit Arunanondchai, Kerstin Brätsch, Naotaka Hiro, Roberto Lugo, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Cauleen Smith, and Lily Stockman, with the auction raising an impressive $1.8 million.

Revelers then headed to their seats for the evening’s main program. As partygoers dined on their multi-course meals, they were treated to words by organization and event leaders. Next came a spirited live auction, helmed by Quig Bruning from presenting sponsor Sotheby’s. Collectors bid on 10 different contemporary art pieces including works by Haas Brothers who were raised in Austin,  Charles Gaines, Chase Hall, Peter Halley, Spencer Lewis, Liza Lou, Howardena Pindell, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, and Carmen Herrera. The live auction also included a piece by Nairy Baghramian, who received the 2023 Aspen Award for Art, which coincided with her solo exhibition Jupon de Corps at the museum.

THE NON-PROFIT: ArtCrush 2023, co-chaired Jamie Tisch and Sara Zilkha, with Abigail Ross Goodman and Molly Epstein serving as auction chairs, raised over $3.8 million dollars for the Aspen Art Museum. ArtCrush 2023 was made possible because of its generous supporters including Steven Shane of Compass Real EstateJ.P. Morgan Private Bank, Tata Harper, and UOVO. The globally engaged, non-collecting museum featuring contemporary art has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1979. Funds raised from this year’s ArtCrush will go towards funding the museum’s curation and education programs.



Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s A Celebration of Reading Raises Over $1.8 Million

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Gary Fountain and Daniel Ortiz

THE SCENE: Houston’s Hobby Center for the Performing Arts was the recent setting for a magical evening that celebrated a milestone for one of the city’s most beloved organizations. The 29th annual A Celebration of Reading served a special purpose this year as it celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. The event drew over a thousand of the city’s most notable sociables and philanthropists for an evening that honored the three things most important to the late First Lady and served as a theme for the evening – Faith, Family, and Friends.

THE VIBE: The cocktail-chic crowd began the evening mingling in the foyer of the venue where old friends reacquainted and new friendships were made. Patrons then proceeded to the main theatre inside the Hobby Center for the program. Upon entering the theatre, guests were wowed as they looked at the stage, which featured a replica of the living room inside George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s former residence.

Once patrons took to their seats, the festivities were kicked off with words from Neil and Maria Bush, son and daughter-in-law of Barbara Bush, which was followed by words from several other Bush family members. The evening then continued with conversations with several best-selling and acclaimed authors.

Featured authors included New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, and Seven-time New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. The festivities were capped off by Reverend Dr. Russell Jones Levenson Jr. who shared touching memories of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush during each of their final moments of life.

THE NON-PROFIT: A Celebration of Reading, co-chaired Maria and Neil Bush, raised over $1.8 million for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Proceeds raised from the event will benefit local programs via the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation as well as national programs through the Barbara Bush Foundation of Family Literacy



The Family Place’s 10th Anniversary Gala Raised $260K To Support Survivors Of Family Violence

By Cynthia Smoot     Photography by Tamytha Cameron and Celeste Cass

THE SETTING: ReuNight co-chairs Brooke Hortenstine, Margaret Stafford and Piper Wyatt, with honorary chair Joyce Goss, welcomed more than 180 attendees to the recent 10th anniversary gala, ReuNight, benefiting The Family Place at the Dallas Petroleum Club.

The Ray of Light theme dazzled the partygoers were escorted to the 13th floor, transformed into a stylish lounge, for cocktails, where they posed for photos at the BuDhaGirl step and repeat before taking in the beautiful view of the Dallas Arts District. Guests enjoyed cocktails, including a Caipirinha specialty cocktail, and canapés, such as black pepper profiteroles with fois gras mousse, Reglis Ova caviar tarts with hearts of palm and chives, and tapioca fritters, as they mingled and enjoyed the cool vibe by DJ RomiQ. At 7:45, the Gospel of Light Choir entered the room singing Oh Happy Day to lead guests to the 14th floor for the seated dinner and live auction. The doors were opened to the Constellation Room, which featured stunning décor by Todd Events and inspired by the event theme, Ray of Light.

THE VIBE:  Tables were dressed in midnight blue linens with floral centerpieces in white and various hues of purple, while black lacquered bars with gold accents sprinkled throughout the space–all under the room’s signature hand-painted ceiling. Guests took their seats and began the first course of the three-course dinner curated by James Beard Semifinalist Chef Junior Borges, which included cured scallops with bonito cream, pickled ginger and finger lime vinaigrette, and laminated brioche, accompanied by Chloe Pinot Grigio.

The ReuNight co-chairs then took the stage for brief remarks followed by The Family Place CEO Mimi Sterling and Board Chair Harold Ginsburg. Patrons began their duo-entrees of Rosewood Wagyu tenderloin and King Crab “Oscar” served with asparagus, ramps and shishito peppers, along with Imagery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by a yuca and coconut cake with lime ganache, vanilla diplomat and coconut sable, inspired by Chef Borges’ grandmother, served with Mumm Brut Prestige. It was now time for the much-anticipated live auction! The Gospel of Light Choir returned to enthuse the audience with a soulful rendition of We Are Family. Partygoers then bid generously on seven fabulous packages offered with the live auction.

Following that, an inspiring video highlighting The Family Place’s Supportive Living Program was shared, with the program director taking the stage after the viewing, asking donors to dig deeper and support necessary services like the Supportive Living Program A spirited paddle raise ended the program to secure the evening’s goal of $260,000 raised during the night of the event.

THE NON-PROFIT: Funds raised at ReuNight will allow The Family Place to continue empowering survivors of family violence by providing safe housing, counseling, and skills that create independence, while building community engagement and helping families progress from fear to safety.




ZACH Theatre’s Red, Hot & Soul Dazzles With Venetian Carnivale Theme

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Charles Quinn Photography

THE SCENE: Austin’s ZACH Scott Theatre was the setting for one of the Capital City’s most notable spring sociable events. The 300 guests who were fortunate enough to be a part of ZACH Theatre’s Red, Hot & Soul were treated to an unforgettable evening of fundraising which included a revamped format, dazzling performances, an inspiring theme, and fundraising that kept the fun going into throughout the evening.

THE VIBE: The black tie crowd knew they were in for a special evening before they entered the lobby of the Topfer Theatre on the ZACH campus for cocktails. Upon entering, guests were dazzled by a stunning display of masquerade art and floral design created by celebrity florist David Kurio, which made for the perfect, modern step and repeat, where many guests were spotted taking photos to commemorate the evening.

Once inside the lobby of the Topfer Theatre guests sipped on their favorite cocktails while mingling and admiring the Venetian-inspired masks of other patrons The cocktail hour happened against the backdrop of performance artists throughout the lobby that gave the space an extra layer of fun and excitement for the festivities ahead.

In a new twist for this year’s event, the action then moved to the Topfer Theatre stage for the main program. Many jaws dropped as the crowd took their seats on the main stage where they were greeted by aerialists above the stage for additional ambiance of a Venetian Carnivale.

KXAN anchor Jennifer Sanders served as emcee and effortlessly kept the evening going at a brisk, informative pace throughout. Highlights of the program included a delicious multi-course meal, touching tributes, entertaining performances from various members of the ZACH Theater company, and a spirited live auction where winners of packages were greeted with confetti poppers and champagne. The evening was capped off where the fun initially began in the lobby of the Topfer Theater for a lively after-party. Guests were seen dancing the night away, capping off a fabulous evening that those fortunate enough to be a part of will not soon forget.

THE NONPROFIT: The event, co-chaired by Donn Gauger and Maxx Judd, raised funds for ZACH Scott Theatre. Proceeds raised from the event went to fund ZACH Scott Theatre programs. Each year, the ZACH Scott Theatre serves over 125,000 Central Texans which includes over 55,000 children through an engaging mix of programs including camps, classes, performances as well as education and outreach programs



Elizabeth Ann Seton Board Hosts Kentucky Derby Themed 30th Anniversary Gala

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Ben Porter

THE SCENE: A beautiful night at Austin’s Camp Mabry was the recent setting for one of the Capital City’s most anticipated and well-attended Spring social events. Over 800 sociables, philanthropists, and VIPs came out for Elizabeth Ann Seton Board’s, 30th annual gala. This year’s theme, Off to the Races, featured great food, amazing company, sensational fashion, and dazzling performances which created a magical evening perfectly befitting of a milestone celebration.

THE VIBE: The Kentucky Derby themed event was on full display from the moment guests walked up to the Camp Mabry grounds for the gala al fresco. Revelers were spotted wearing their derby finest including intricate hats and bright spring colors which created a festive, welcoming environment for all who attended. After checking in, partygoers engaged in a lively cocktail hour, where patrons sipped spring cocktails including Mint Juleps, while others could be seen taking photos next to the giant trophy step and repeat installation to commemorate the evening.

The action then moved to the open-aired tent for the main program. While dining on a delectable meal the attendees were treated to words from the organization’s leaders and touching tribute videos showcasing how Ascension/Seton has positively impacted so many families in the Austin community. Next came a spirited live auction with top items including a week away in 30A for 15 guests and a 2024 Kentucky Derby VIP package and was followed by a fund-a-need raise where patrons generously opened their hearts and wallets to support the organization. The night was capped off with live music courtesy of SKYROCKET, which had the crowd dancing the evening away and ensured the fun continued well into the night.

THE NON-PROFIT: The event, co-chaired by Sheridan Butler Binford and Kyndall Johnson, raised over $1.35 million dollars for Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin. Funds raised from Off to the Races will support programs, building and equipment needs for the Marialice Shivers and Dell Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Kathryn Frances Walker Center for Neonatal Intensive Care and Family Support at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin.