Holocaust Museum Houston celebrated its 23rd Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award Dinner by honoring former president George W. Bush. One of Houston’s largest philanthropic events boasting 1,150 guests at Hilton Americas-Houston, the annual dinner chaired by Lester and Sue Smith, Shelly and Brian Hendry and Limor and Stuart Smith raised a record-breaking $4.2 million to support the worldwide educational programs of the museum. (The prior record was $2.1 million raised at the 2005 dinner.)
Holocaust Museum Houston presents the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award to individuals who have taken a stand against injustice, hatred and prejudice, and used their skills and influence to make a better world for all people. During his tenure, President Bush provided leadership to keep Americans safe after the September 11 attacks. Additionally, he used this same resolve to launch humanitarian initiatives to provide more than $3.3 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Today, President Bush’s attention is on the Bush Institute, the nonpartisan, public policy arm of the Bush Center, which engages communities in the United States and around the world by developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s pressing challenges. President Bush’s focus on our military servicemen and women, veterans, and their families was most notably recognized in his recent book New York Times bestseller, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.
The evening was chaired by Lester and Sue Smith and Lester’s children and their spouses, Shelly and Brian Hendry and Limor and Stuart Smith. Honorary chairs included The Bush Family, Senator Joe Lieberman, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Mady and Ken Kades served as host committee chairs.
In lieu of a keynote speech, The Honorable Fred Zeidman, chairman emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, facilitated an engaging conversation with President Bush discussing key events during his time as President and his life since leaving office.
The kosher menu included a salad of baby lettuces, poached red and yellow beets with sweet grape tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. The entrée was a scrumptious seared filet of Scottish salmon with ancient grain pilaf, dried cranberries, sautéed kale, asparagus tips and sweet potato puree. Guests enjoyed swapping desserts of flourless chocolate cake with mascarpone cream and strawberries, and lemon trifle garnished with blueberries.
The decorations and flowers were managed by The Events Company. Flowers were repurposed via Flower Power to nursing homes and shelters, while Second Helpings utilized additional meals for people in need. Dinner Chairs Lester and Sue Smith hosted President George W. Bush at their table along with Shelly and Brian Hendry, Limor and Stuart Smith, Holocaust Museum Houston CEO Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga and Luis Zúñiga, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and The Honorable Fred Zeidman and Kay Zeidman.
VIPs seen in the crowd included County Attorney Vince Ryan, Houston City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, Harris Texas State Judge Ken Wise, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China Qiangmin Li, Consul General of Israel Gilad Katz, Honorary Consul General of Denmark Anna Holliday, Honorary Consul General to Thailand and vice dean of the Consular Corps of Houston Charles Foster, Deputy Consul General of Israel Omer ChechekKatz, and Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission members Peter Berkowitz and Martin Fein.
Also on hand were Ginger Blanton, Laurie and Milton Boniuk, Polly and Murry Bowden, Bruce and Rhona Caress, Twila Carter, Becca Cason Thrash and Dr. John Thrash, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Dr. Riva Collins and Ira Mitzner, Julie Baker Finck and Ron Finck, Heidi Gerger, Lainie Gordon and David Mincberg, Barbara and Charles Hurwitz, Jerry Martin, Katherine McGovern, Martha and Peter Mims, Trish and Rock Morille, Jeri and Marc Shapiro, Marcia and David Solomon, Nancy Li-Tarim, Benjamin Warren, Beth Wolff, and Anat and Jay Zeidman.