A record-setting crowd of more than 2,300 jammed the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom for the annual Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast luncheon with the theme, "Standing Strong with Texas Women.”
The event celebrated the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the landmark Roe v. Wade case affirming a woman's right to safe and legal abortion, as well as basic preventative health care that the organization offers to thousands of women and men across Texas and the nation.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and former Gov. Ann Richards's daughter, welcomed the crowd to one of the largest Planned Parenthood gatherings in the organization’s 100-year history. Former Texas Senator Wendy Davis made an impassioned keynote address challenging attendees to get involved in their local government and demand equality for women. Guest cheered Davis and sang out “Stand up, fight back."
Event chairs Linwood Olson and Kristen Olson Lyons were thrilled that nearly $600,000 was raised at the luncheon.
Seen in the throng were Sarah Weddington, the winning attorney in the Roe v. Wade case, Amber Mostyn, Lillie Schechter, Barbara Sklar, Deana Briceno, Gay Roane, Janet Clark, Lauren and Geoff Harrison, Marjorie Beaudet, Sherry Merfish, Paul Brockman, Diana Strassmann and Jeff Smisek, Jane Moser, Poppi Massey, and Becca Cason Thrash.
Also supporting the cause were Nancy McGregor Manne and Neil Manne, Sallie Morian and Michael Clark, Susan Garwood, Anne Pratt, Sima Ladjevadian, Emily and Josh Schaffer, Jenni Tranweaver, Kafah Bachari, past PPGC board chair Susan Kennedy and current PPGC board chair Mike Nichols and wife Marcia Nichols, along with fellow PPGC board members Dena Winkler and Peggie Kohnert.
Among the Houston-area elected officials who turned out to show their support were Mayor Sylvester Turner, former Mayor Annise Parker, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, City Controller Chris Brown, U.S. Rep. Al Green, HISD trustees Wanda Adams, Anna Eastman, Anne Sung, and Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca, and Houston City Council members Dwight Boykins, Amanda Edwards, and David Robinson.