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The 7th Annual Women of Substance Luncheon acknowledges the important contribution of twelve of Houston’s most philanthropic women and raises $500,000

Photo Credits: Priscilla Dickson

The Celebration

The 7th Annual Women of Substance Luncheon was held on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 at the Post Oak Hotel to celebrate this year’s Women of Substance honorees. Amy Pierce and Dr. Sippi Khurana (both past Women of Substance) were the cochairs of the event. The masters of ceremonies were Deborah Duncan of KHOU’s Great Day Houston and Ernie Manouse of Houston Public Media.

The Story

Over 420 guests were in attendance to support and celebrate the women chosen to be the Women of Substance honorees for 2023. Seated at tables expertly adorned with centerpieces of giant roses courtesy of Flowers by Nino attendees enjoyed a luncheon of grilled radicchio Caesar salad, airline chicken chasseur with haricot verts and herb potato mash, and chocolate mousse praline crème brûlée cocoa nib sponge cake. Attendees had the opportunity to win one of two prizes during the Champagne Raffle Reception. First prize included a “triumvirate” of the world’s finest champagne: a 2012 Roederer Cristal Vintage, a 2013 Dom Perignon, and  a Krug Brut Rosé, along with a pair of Château Baccarat Champagne flutes. Second prize was a $2,000 gift certificate to Renew Body Contouring and MedSpa. There was also a spirited live auction led by Bill King, which included such unique items as a David Peck $1000 gift certificate toward a custom gown; a Warhol-like pop-art portrait compliments of Gittings; and a dream vacation to Martha’s Vineyard for six nights in a private home, complete with hotel vouchers and airfare. A special vocal performance by 14-year old Shaan Khurana of You Raise Me Up elicited a standing ovation. He was accompanied by musicians and backup singers provided by Richard Brown Music. After his performance, Khurana was presented with the inaugural Youth of Substance Award.

The Moments

Creator and producer Paul-David Van Atta delivered the rousing welcoming remarks, then introduced Reverend Mary Gracely, the 2022 Spirit of Substance Honoree, who gave the invocation. Van Atta presented Gracely with a beautiful bouquet of roses afterward and thanked her for taking on the task for the seventh year in a row.

After the event’s top donors were recognized, Duncan and Manouse presented Eileen Lawal with the Spirit of Substance Award. Sidney Faust presented Cora Sue Mach with the  Lifetime of Substance Award and honored her dear friend with a touching summary of Mach’s immense contribution to Houston.

Houston reVision, whose mission it is to break the cycle of juvenile justice involvement and homelessness among youth in Harris County, will be the beneficiary of all Women of Substance event proceeds for the next three years. Charles Rotramel, CEO of Houston reVision, addressed the audience and spoke about the group’s mission and his gratitude to the Women of Substance organization.

The 2023 Women of Substance Honorees Gina Bhatia, Laura Davenport, Elsie Eckert, Debbie Festari, Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, Kathy Givens, April McGee, Jordan Seff, Elizabeth Stein, Paula Sutton, Stephanie Tsuru, and Rini Ziegler were introduced alongside their Gittings pop-art portraits. Previously, the portraits had been on display at The Galleria at Saks Fifth Avenue through the first week of October.

After the award presentations, Kimberly Palma delivered a moving testimonial to Houston reVision, recounting how the organization came to her aid when she was a teenager at risk and helped her make her life a success.

The appeal portion of the event was led by cochairs Khurana and Pierce and included an ask of $20,000 for emergency housing for one year, which was answered three times in total. A $10,000 opportunity to support the creation of a girls soccer team was also supported. The $10,000 match grant challenge was met, and then some.

The successful event raised a total of $500,000.

Guests: Jeff Bagwell, Kelly Anzilotti, Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Philamena Baird, Dr. Devinder Bhatia, David Batagower, Cheryl and Bill King, Susan Boggio, Donna Chapman, Donae Chramosta, Andrew Cordes, Dr. Yvonne Cormier, Bobby Dees, Suzan Deison, Suzanne Ebrahimi, C. C. and Duke Ensell, Sidney Faust, Tena Faust, Elaine Finger, Maria Anna Galitzine, Gayla Gardner, Diane Gendel, Barry Goldware, Vicki Grams, Gregg Harrison, Hillary Hart, Betty and John Hrncir, Marla Hurley, Mady Kades, Brigitte Kalai, Ajay Khurana, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Connie Kwan-Wong, Nicole Lassiter, Dina Lawal, Kase Lawal, Marie LeNotre, Frann Lichtenstein, Renee Logans, Penny Loyd, Kelly Lubanko, Tama Lundquist, Carmen and Butch Mach, Joella and Steve Mach, Lenny Matuszewski, Marian McClendon, Flo McGee, Wells McGee, Melissa Mithoff, Sneha and Nick Merchant, Edna Meyer-Nelson, Denise Monteleone, Bobbie Nau, Kechi Okwuchi, Bruce Padilla and Shelby Kibodeaux, Perri Palermo, David Peck, Warner Roberts, Heidi Rockecharlie, Regina Rogers, Dominique Sachse, Jacob Stein, Laura Stein, Stacey Swift, Ileana Trevino, Frank Tsuru, Elaine Turner, Betty Tutor, Astrid Van Dyke, Barbara Van Postman, Hallie Vanderhider, Phyllis Williams, Beth Wolff, Cynthia Wolff, John and Penelope Wright, Edward Ziegler, Sherri Zucker, Judge Leah Shapiro, Charles Rotramel, Judge Michelle Moore, Judge Natalia Cokinos, Dr. Matt Shelton.

About Houston reVision

Houston reVision is a community of kinship, connecting caring adult volunteers, case managers, mental health professionals, and faith communities with disconnected youth. It is located in the Gulfton neighborhood of Houston, which is the most densely populated area in Texas. It is also home to the highest number of refugees and immigrants compared to other places in the United States. Referrals to the program come from partner agencies, including HISD, Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and other agencies in the community. As the primary partner of Harris County Juvenile Probation, reVision has contributed to the steep decline of youth incarcerated in Harris County since its inception in 2011.

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