Children’s Museum Of Houston Hosts Virtual, Superhero Theme Gala

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

THE SETTING: Homes around Houston recently hosted small, socially safe gatherings in support of one of the cities’ most beloved cultural institutions. The Children’s Museum of Houston took their annual gala virtual and hosted a superhero-themed event, titled A Marvelous Night. And, in the process, they had over a thousand Houstonians glued to their screens for a night of fun and fundraising.


THE STYLE: The evening featured a mix of patrons, who donned early evening cocktail attire, and others who got into the spirit of the evening by dressing up as their favorite superheroes, many with their children in tow. Before the virtual gala festivities began, Captain CMH and Lady CMH swooped into the homes of select underwriters to excite the children…and their parents for the fun festivities ahead.


Families then moved to their screens to watch the evening’s program. Emcees Deborah Duncan and Ernie Manouse effortlessly kept the audiences glued to their devices, large and small, with their banter and humor. Highlights of the evening included top underwriters receiving a catered, three-course meal delivered to their homes, a live auction that included a 60 bottle Instant Wine Cellar collection, and most touchingly, a video medley of children who sang the lyrics to the Pharrell song Happy as a show of support and gratitude to the museum.


THE PURPOSE: The event raised over $700,000 for the Children’s Museum of Houston. Proceeds from the evening will go towards an array of innovative exhibits and multi-lingual learning programs for children up to the age of 12. The organization’s mission is to empower children, and transform communities through innovative, child-centered learning.

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PetSet Celebrates With Virtual Gala Watch Party

By Jennifer Roosth      Photography by Quy Tran


THE SETTING: Even a global pandemic could not stop animal lovers’ kindness, as they rallied around a hybrid format of fundraising. Part virtual gala, part V.I.P. watch party on the much-loved Annie Café & Bar’s outdoor patio, PetSet’s first virtual Fierce and Fabulous Gala raised nearly $200,000 to support the Greater Houston area’s animal welfare groups.

THE STYLE: Animal lovers from Houston and across the country logged onto their device of choice to tune in to the soirée, hosted by Great Day Houston’s Deborah Duncan and Johnny Bravo Holloway. Meanwhile, Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist, Houston PetSet’s co-presidents, celebrated the occasion by hosting a small patio gathering at The Annie Café & Bar. Personalized touches such as food and beverages prepared by Event Elementz and styled by local non-profit design house, Magpies and Peacocks were delivered to the homes of donors to coincide with the event.


The virtual program also included special guest appearances by Dr. Stephen Klineberg, founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology, at Rice University, and America’s Got Talent Season 13 semi-finalist Christina Wells, who added an emotional touch to the show with her performances of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Mariah Carey’s Hero.


THE PURPOSE: The evening’s program kicked-off with a peek into the homes of supporters enjoying the watch parties across the city. The twin sisters then took the mic to thank their guests for joining them to support the cause. Together, the crowd of competitive contributors enjoyed the heartfelt program shining a light on positive animal welfare in Houston. This event not only marked a success for animal welfare but also showcased the resilience of the Houston fundraising community.


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UNICEF’s 6th Annual Gala In Houston Raises Key Funds

By Jennifer Roosth    Photography by Gregg Harrison and Bob Levey/Getty Images


THE SETTING: Nearly 400 Houstonians recently packed The Post Oak Hotel as the Southwest Regional Office of UNICEF USA hosted its sixth annual UNICEF Gala Houston. Black-tie attired guests sipped on cocktails, enjoyed a seated dinner, and celebrated outstanding humanitarian leaders who make UNICEF’s work possible. Susan and Dan Boggio were honored with the Helenka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award and Sue Smith and Lester Smith (posthumously) with the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award.

THE STYLE: The evening was as fabulous as it was lively. The live auction packages included a week-long safari in Kenya, earrings from NINI Jewels and tickets to the legendary Elton John Oscars Party in Los Angeles, which was sold twice for almost six figures each. The paddle raise for UNICEF Kid Power was matched with a generous $100,000 from The Alkek and Williams Foundation. The gala also featured a vibrant performance by The Garden State Guys performing a special tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Then, UNICEF’s Young Professionals NextGen hosted a silent disco after party. Afterward, Lester Smith’s book, You Gotta Dance Like No One Is Watching, was a take-home gift for all the guests.

THE PURPOSE: The evening’s gala, emceed by Deborah Duncan, raised over one million dollars, which will support UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world. The gala chairs were Cheryl Byington, Mary Ann McKeithan, Beth Wolff, and Hallie Vanderhider (who also served as the lead benefactor of the event). Shelly and Brian Hendry, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Limor and Stuart Smith, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Randa and Charles Williams served as the honorary co-chairs, while Anika Jackson and Catherine Clarke Murphy served as the NextGen Chairs.

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