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The theme of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Young Professionals Group’s eighth annual Storybook Gala is Around the World with Madeline

Photo Credits: Daniel Ortiz

The Celebration 

On Friday, November 10, 2023, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s (Foundation) Young Professionals Group (YPG) hosted its eighth annual Storybook Gala at Union Station at Minute Maid Park. This year’s theme was Around the World with Madeline. The enchanting evening was chaired by Grace and Tom Gosnell, Courtney and Zac Harmon, and Victoria Villarreal. Matt Rogers emceed the event, which benefited the childhood literacy initiatives led by YPG in support of the Foundation’s mission.


The Story

Entering the event space, which had been completely transformed by Art Attack and A Pretty Party to reflect the evening’s theme, the 250 guests were delighted to find themselves transported to a storybook land like no other. Madeline characters courtesy of J&D Entertainment mingled with participants admiring the scaled-down Alamo replica emblazoned with the words, “Madeline in Texas;” the pair of 5-foot-tall custom cowboy boots; and the 14-foot-tall Eiffel Tower that signified Madeline’s journey from Paris to Texas. Black and gold pintuck table linens and chair covers enhanced the elegance of the décor.

The lavish event featured beverages, hors d'oeuvres, food stations, a raffle, and a silent auction. The memorable live auction included a custom-designed diamond line bracelet of 18K white gold with 2.30 carat total weight, GI color, and VS1-SI2 clarity, generously donated by Tenenbaum Jewelers. Following the live auction, the dynamic Houston-based Drywater Band got partygoers on their feet and onto the dance floor. A dessert bar offering chocolate chip cookies, pecan bars, and Italian crème cake pops, capped off the whimsical night.

The Moments

Rogers welcomed attendees to the event, which raises awareness of, and resources for, childhood literacy. Grace and Tom Gosnell, Courtney and Zach Harmon, and Victoria Villarreal presented the Childhood Literacy Impact Award to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR). Over the last decade, the organization has been unwavering in its commitment to empowering underserved children across Houston with access to high-quality programs and resources that they need to become strong readers. Initiatives such as Reading Roundup, Read Houston Read, and the Curiosity Cruisers are just a few examples of what has been made possible with support from HLSR. The award spotlights the power of volunteerism in impacting how children learn how to read, write, and comprehend.

The event raised $225,000. All proceeds benefit the childhood literacy initiatives led by YPG in support of the Foundation’s mission. YPG seeks to engage young professionals in Houston’s ongoing literacy crisis by creating opportunities for members to read, lead, and serve the next generation.

Guests: Alex and Jamie Burpee, Allison Wells, Bailey Harper, Adam Nwaozo, Anthony Tarantino and Gaby Aparicio, Lindy and Devin Sauer, Caitlin Rance, Lauren and Dean Sudderth, Charles Hearne, Shreya Ramesh, Courtney and Zac Harmon, Grace and Tom Gosnell, Victoria Villarreal, Eric Romero and Alicia Calhoun, Randi and Chris Boleman, Pat Mann and Tim Phillips, Jeannie Wu and Mike Le, Amy and John Chronis, John Snodgrass, Allison Vincent, Megan and Jake Madorsky, Julie and Ron Finck, Julie Sudduth, J. P. Ramirez, Chrsitina Jeffcoat, Karen and Tom Wolff, Nicole Appleby and Cody Schlagel, Patrick Mikkelsen and Melissa McDaniel, Allison and Preston Schulze, Lisa and Mark Jakel, Emily George, Janet and Rick Jones, Cat and Sean Tobin, Kelli and Scott John, Winnie Ileso, and Samuel Musgrove.

About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation (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 Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy. Over the past 10 years, the Foundation has spearheaded innovative literacy programs and expanded access to high-quality services and resources that empower children, families, and adults with the support they need to learn how to read, write, and comprehend.

For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook at, on Twitter @bushhoustonlit, and on Instagram @bushhoustonlit.

About the Young Professionals Group

The Young Professionals Group (YPG) is an organization of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation formed in 2014 to engage the next generation of Houston’s leaders in the literacy cause. YPG is comprised of a community of individuals who are service-minded and eager to make an impact in our city. Members participate in networking and social events, serve in leadership roles, and volunteer in meaningful service activities that help make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children and their families.

To learn more about The Young Professional’s Group, please visit

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