Dinner and Discourse

Power couple honored as Rice University's Baker Institute raises $740,000 for new center

Power couple honored as Baker Institute raises $740,000 for new center

News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, L.E. Simmons, Ginny Simmons,Ed Djerejian,
Ed Djerejian, left, on stage with Ginny and L.E. Simmons. ©2015 Michael Stravato for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, Susan Baker, Isabel David, Danny David
James and Susan Baker, left, with Isabel and Danny David. ©2015 Michael Stravato for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  Pete Olson, Nancy Olson
U.S Rep. Pete Olson and wife Nancy. ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Marc Shapiro, Jeri Shapiro
Marc and Jeri Shapiro. ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Larry George, Karen George
Larry and Karen George.  ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  William Simmons, Paige Simmons
William Simmons and Paige Simmons. ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  Monique Shankle, Rene Shankle
Monique Shankle, left, and Rene Shankle.  ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Margaret Alkek Williams, Jim Daniel
Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel.  ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Fairfax Randall, Pat Breen
Fairfax Randall, left, and Pat Breen. ©2015 Katy Anderson for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, L.E. Simmons, Ginny Simmons,Ed Djerejian,
L.E. and Ginny Simmons, left, with Ed Djerejian. ©2015 Michael Stravato for Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, L.E. Simmons, Ginny Simmons,Ed Djerejian,
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, Susan Baker, Isabel David, Danny David
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  Pete Olson, Nancy Olson
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Marc Shapiro, Jeri Shapiro
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Larry George, Karen George
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  William Simmons, Paige Simmons
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015,  Monique Shankle, Rene Shankle
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Margaret Alkek Williams, Jim Daniel
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, Fairfax Randall, Pat Breen
News, Baker Institute dinner, April 2015, James Baker, L.E. Simmons, Ginny Simmons,Ed Djerejian,

Corporate, diplomatic and education leadership turned out in black-tie force for the Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy gala that not only honored one of the city's leading couples but also served to launch the new Center for Health and Biosciences at the institute.

Houston Country Club ballroom brimmed with many of the city's shining lights beginning with James A. Baker III and his wife, Susan, and the night's honorees, Ginny and L.E. Simmons. The evening, chaired by Beth Madison and Isabel and Danny David, raised $740,000, which is earmarked for the new center.

"Without fanfare, these two dedicate themselves to building a better world by improving health care, education, the beauty of our city and the other issues about which they care so passionately," Baker said of the Simmonses. "They have quietly become one of the most generous couples in Houston’s philanthropic community — giving untold millions to charities that benefit us all."

After receiving the James A. Baker III Prize for Excellence in Leadership, the couple was joined on stage by Baker Institute founding director Edward Djerejian, who interviewed them on subjects including leadership and their interest in health-related philanthropy.

In speaking on the Center for Health and Biosciences, Djerejian described the new initiative as an innovative research collaborative focusing on health policy. 

"The center will bring together our distinguished health and science team -- including Dr. Vivian Ho, Dr. John Mendelsohn, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Kirstin Matthews, Dr. Hagop Kantarjian and Dr. Deepak Srivastava," Djerejian said, "and provide them with the research assistants and logistical support to pursue a wider agenda as they address national and global health concerns . . ."

The distinguished group included Rice president David Leebron and wife Y. Ping Sun, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Anne and Charles Duncan, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Pat and Dan Breen, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Hannah and Cal McNair and Congressman Pete Olsen and wife, Nancy.