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.