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The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Celebrates Thirty Years of Promoting Literacy

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s 30th Annual A Celebration of Reading raises nearly $2.2 million to advance the legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush’s passion for literacy.

Photo credit: Jacob Power, Michelle Watson, Priscilla Dickson

The Celebration 

The evening program of the 30th Annual A Celebration of Reading was hosted by Maria and Neil Bush, cofounders of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation (Foundation), and Doro Bush Koch, honorary chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The author’s luncheon was held the same afternoon at the elegant home of Terri and John Havens who hosted the private affair. 


The Story

Neil Bush and Koch welcomed the nearly 1200 guests thanking them for their generous support of the Foundation and its mission to help more Houstonians learn to read. The exceptional lineup of New York Times bestselling authors included  Jean Becker, Chris Bohjalian, Gary Gulman, and Brad Taylor. They were introduced throughout the evening by Bush family members George P. Bush, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Lauren Bush Lauren, and Ashley Walker Bush.

During the author’s luncheon hosted by the Havens, Bush family members, major donors of A Celebration of Reading, and the authors enjoyed a sumptuous meal courtesy of City Kitchen Catering. Neil Bush was joined by authors Jean Becker, Brad Taylor, and Chris Bohjalian. In his remarks, Bush noted the importance of the anniversary and the fact that it coincides with what would have been George H. W. Bush’s 100th birthday. He also thanked everyone in attendance for their support of his mother’s ideals and goals.


The Moments 

The evening program’s celebrated authors each took the stage to talk about their inspirations and life experiences. Jean Becker, former chief of staff for President George H. W. Bush, spoke about her time at The White House and shared details from her latest book, Character Matters: And Other Life Lessons from George Herbert Walker Bush. Brad Taylor discussed his 21 years of service in the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces and introduced his newest book, Dead Man’s Hand. Chris Bohjalian, the author of The Flight Attendant, which was made into an Emmy award-winning series, and 23 other works of fiction, described his youth and his experience collaborating with producers. Gary Gulman, who is a comic as well as an author, closed the program with a 20-minute stand-up routine. Afterward, guests enjoyed a memorable three-course dinner provided by City Kitchen Catering at tables crowned with floral arrangements of hydrangeas and tulips courtesy of H-E-B. Guests also participated in a raffle sponsored by Tenenbaum Jewelers for a chance to win either a $15,000 gift certificate or a double-strand pearl necklace with a diamond clasp. The proceeds of the raffle will go to support the Foundation’s My Home Library program.


The successful event raised over $2.2 million to help support the local literacy efforts of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the national literacy efforts of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy


Phillips 66 served as Title Sponsor; ConocoPhillips and John P. McGovern Foundation returned as Platinum Sponsors; and Enbridge, Marathon Oil, Greg and Gail Garland, H-E-B, and Lisa and Mark Jakel and friends served as Gold Sponsors.


In May, the Foundation’s media partner, KPRC 2, broadcasted a one-hour, commercial-free version of the program, which included additional interviews and stories of impact.


Evening Guests: Neil and Maria Bush, Doro Bush Koch, Pierce Bush, Lauren Bush Lauren, Ashley Walker Bush and Julian LeFevre, George P. Bush, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Julie and Ron Finck, Lisa and Mark Jakel, Alvin Abraham,  Claudia Kreisle, David and Pat Jones, John and Betty Hrncir, David Leebron and Y. Ping Sun, Delores and John Tobola, Emily George, Colette Taylor, Allison Schulze, Greg and Terri Ebel, Greg and Gail Garland, Joe and Cathy Cleary, Patricia and Sig Cornelius, Sue Smith, Sidney Faust, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Armando and Corina Perez, Lisa Helfman and Lee Haverman, Danny Ward and Nancy Ames, Alice Mosing, Kelley and Michael Lang, Deborah and Monte Stavis, Bill and Sharon Bullock, Tony Bradfield, Ginger Blanton, Mace and Melanie Meeks, Martha and Mark Carnes, Jim and Beverly Postl, and Jeanna and Wesley Bamburg.


Luncheon Guests: John and Terri Havens, Neil Bush, Pierce Bush, Lauren Bush Lauren, Ashley Walker Bush, Julian LeFevre, Jean Becker, Brad Taylor, Chris Bohjalian, Julie and Ron Finck, Lisa Jakel, Emily George, Alvin Abraham and Claudia Kreisle, Mark and Laurie Lashier, Greg and Gail Garland, Zhanna and Vitaly Golodryga, Cynthia Hansen and Joe Concini, and Rebecca and Brian Duncan.


About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation 

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy: the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.  

For more information about the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, please visit or follow them on Facebook at @bushhoustonlit on Twitter @bushhoustonlit and on Instagram @bushhoustonlit.  

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