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Lifetime Aquarian Award

Margaret Alkek Williams: A Formidable Force for the Arts, Education, and Medicine

Lifetime Aquarian Award- Margaret Alkek

CKW LUXE is proud to announce that Margaret Alkek Williams is our Lifetime Aquarian Award honoree. This award goes to a woman who has made transformational contributions to the city of Houston by being socially conscious, a humanitarian, philanthropic, committed to bettering the lives of others, and inspiring others to do the same through their lifetime.

“My parents instilled in me that privilege comes with responsibility. I see how the careful choices they made created a legacy that both continues to give back to the community and also honors their lives, values, and hopes for Houston. Generosity comes in many forms.  Whatever way you find to show acts of kindness and generosity to others, just know that you are making a difference.” – Margaret Alkek Williams

Margaret has two enduring passions: philanthropy and the performing arts. A pillar of the arts community in Houston, Margaret’s name is synonymous with philanthropy at the highest level due to her extensive fundraising for the many charities on whose boards she serves and her leadership of her family’s charitable foundation.

Margaret serves as chairman of the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, the living legacy created by Margaret’s parents to carry on the family’s charitable mission. In 2016, the family celebrated the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary and $200 million in giving, which includes over $100 million to Baylor College of Medicine.

Preserving and promoting the performing arts has been a tradition of the Alkek family. Margaret’s affection for the arts, largely influenced by her mother, has been a lifelong journey. After studying acting at Stanford University and earning a music degree from the University of Texas, she performed briefly with Philadelphia’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society in the 1950s and sang in the Houston Grand Opera Chorus in the early 1960s.

Margaret’s influence across Houston’s cultural community is legendary. Grants to performing arts organizations have provided a major impetus for new productions, buildings, endowments, and programs. Major gifts, directed by Margaret, have made possible the creation of: the Margaret Alkek Williams Terrace Level at the Alley Theatre; the Margaret Alkek Williams Dance Lab at Houston Ballet; the endowment for the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair held by Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director at Houston Grand Opera; and the endowment for The Margaret Alkek Williams Executive Director/CEO Chair at Houston Symphony. 

Margaret’s love of the performing arts is highlighted by recent gifts to the Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM) at Houston Methodist Hospital, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), and Houston Ballet. In 2016, her gift to Houston Methodist established the Margaret Alkek Williams CPAM Endowment for Arts Integration at Houston Methodist Hospital. The endowment will allow the center to continue in perpetuity the 100 plus live performances for Houston Methodist patients and guests throughout the year. This fall, TUTS will break ground on the new Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Arts and Education. Margaret pledged a $4 million lead gift in 2017 to help build the 20,000-square-foot addition that will feature a 140-seat black box studio, provide classrooms for voice, dance and acting, and triple the amount of rehearsal space currently available. In May 2017, Margaret endowed Houston Ballet’s annual gala performance, now known as the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance. Her generosity ensures that this annual one-night-only performance will be presented to Houston audiences in perpetuity. 

In 2013, UNICEF USA honored Margaret for her extraordinary dedication to the health and well-being of children in Houston and around the world. Margaret was the first person in the United States to receive the Audrey Hepburn® Society Philanthropist of the Year Award in recognition of her incredibly generous support of the UNICEF and Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative partnership. Also in 2013, UNICEF established the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award, a special award given to philanthropic leaders at the annual UNICEF Audrey Hepburn® Society Ball. Past recipients of the award include Former First Lady Barbara Bush, Robert and Janice McNair, Rose and Harry Cullen, and Susan and Fayez Sarofim.

At the Association of Fundraising Professionals–Greater Houston Chapter’s 2017 National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon, Margaret was honored with the prestigious Maurice Hirsch Award for Philanthropy. This award is given to an individual or family with a proven record of exceptional generosity. She was humbled to follow in the footsteps of past recipients of the award, including her parents Albert B. Alkek (1990) and Margaret M. Alkek (2000). 

Margaret Alkek Williams is a Houston treasure and one of the Bayou City’s most generous and committed philanthropists. Her tireless efforts have helped Houston become the vibrant world-class city it is today. A quote by Dr. Michael E. DeBakey says it all.  “While Houston is fortunate to have an impressive number of truly generous citizens, there are only a few throughout Houston who have given with such commitment and in amounts capable of changing the skyline, the level of healthcare, the magnitude of the arts, and the quality of life for nearly every Houstonian. Such is the level of commitment of Margaret Alkek Williams.”

CKW LUXE would like to congratulate Margaret Alkek Williams on being the Lifetime Aquarian Award honoree. As the embodiment of the award, Margaret does not question the value of culture and is steadfast in the belief that it is essential to the health and betterment of the city and its people. She is aware that private funding for the arts is crucial to keeping many arts organizations alive and to making them accessible to as many Houstonians as possible. In large part, due to her fearless support and generosity, Margaret has helped realize that dream for Houston.

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