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Cynthia Petrello: An Enthusiastic Philanthropist with Style

CKW Luxe is proud to announce that Cynthia Petrello is our honoree for the Stellar Award. This award goes to a woman who is philanthropic and also has superior taste in fashion.

“A world changer is focused and committed about their service to others.” – Cynthia Petrello

Actress, dancer, and model, Cynthia Petrello has had a successful and varied career in the world of entertainment and the arts. As an actress, she has appeared in episodes of “All My Children,” “Guiding Light,” and “Loving.” She has also lent her talents to many original and Off-Broadway shows. As a model, Cynthia has been featured in advertisements for “Newsweek,” “Redbook,” and “First.” And as a professional dancer, she has performed in many New York stage productions. Cynthia’s credits also extend to producing. She produced and appeared in the Off-Broadway production of John Pielmeier’s “Impassioned Embraces,” which was performed at the Judith Anderson Theatre. As well, Cynthia was an executive producer of the movie thriller, “Deceit,” which she also had a role in.
A graduate of Albertus Magnus College, in New Haven, Connecticut, Cynthia has a bachelor’s degree in political science. She has also studied Italian and art history at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy and French decorative arts at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Born and raised in Connecticut, Cynthia now calls Houston her home and lives there with her husband, Tony, and their daughter, Carena.

Her dynamic personality and go-getter attitude, as well as her involvement with, and commitment to, a number of worthy causes, have made Cynthia one of Houston’s leading advocates and most prolific philanthropists. In 2001, along with her husband, Cynthia founded the Petrello Family Foundation, which focuses its resources on improving education, the performing arts, and medical resources in the Houston Community.

She and her husband are also passionate about improving and supporting the physical, mental, and emotional health of children dealing with injury and disease so they may live their lives to their greatest potential. To this end, the Texas Children’s Hospital has been a major beneficiary of the couple’s generosity and determination. The Petrellos conceived of and made the initial philanthropic commitment to launch the establishment of the hospital’s new Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute. It is the first institution focused on the neurological needs of children. They have remained steadfastly committed to its development ever since its founding. Cynthia, together with her husband, was the co-chair of the hospital’s highly successful $500 million capital campaign, which raised funds for the largest capital expansion in the hospital’s history.

Not only have the Petrellos helped improve the lives and well-being of their fellow Texans, they have also contributed to building Houston’s reputation as a national leader in medicine and culture. For this reason, in 2011, the couple received the Smithsonian’s Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, recognizing their substantial and extensive philanthropic service to the city. The award is bestowed on individuals who “… have served with distinction in public life and have shown a special commitment to seeking out informed opinions and thoughtful views. Recipients of this award share Woodrow Wilson’s steadfast belief in public discourse, scholarship, and the extension of the benefits of knowledge in the
United States and around the world. They have poured their time, talents, and resources into improving the lives and futures of others and in so doing have inspired us all,” according to the Wilson Center website.

Personally involved in numerous charitable organizations, Cynthia serves on the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston Grand Opera; Alley Theatre; Houston Cinema Arts Society; and the Periwinkle Foundation. Known for her inimitable style and graciousness, Cynthia has chaired or hosted several of Houston’s most successful charitable events raising millions of dollars. These include the annual galas for Houston Grand Opera, The Brookwood Community, and Alley Theatre, as well as the annual luncheons for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Houston. When Cynthia and her husband co-chaired the 2012 Houston Grand Opera Ball, the event successfully raised $2 million for the company.

The Connecticut General Assembly honored Cynthia for the creation and funding of a Women’s Studies Program for students at her alma mater, Sacred Heart High School, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was the first of its kind to be implemented in a Catholic high school. Cynthia continues to actively support the program. For twenty years, she has sponsored six scholarships for young women at Sacred Heart through a named scholarship fund.

As well as being devoted to her career, her role as wife and mother, and giving back to her community, Cynthia has a keen interest in fashion and a commitment to her own individual style. As a result, she has been a Houston Chronicle best-dressed honoree three times, including 2005, 2008, and 2015 putting her in the Hall of Fame. In the 2015 article featuring Cynthia as best-dressed honoree, the Houston Chronicle uncovered many of her style secrets. When asked about her style mantra, Cynthia quoted these imitable words of Judy Garland as her response: “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

Cynthia Petrello has devoted herself to numerous charitable organizations, raising funds for vital causes, and fighting for the ideals she believes in. And she has done it all with style. CKW Luxe would like to congratulate Cynthia on being the Stellar Award honoree. As the embodiment of the award, Cynthia has given selflessly so others can thrive and live to their full potential. All the while, she conducts herself with grace and élan serving as an inspiration to others.

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