25 Most Beautiful Houstonians

August 1, 2007 by  
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Compassion and generosity make for a beautiful community

KELLY ANZILOTTI‘s love of beautiful, unique handbags and accessories led her to start her own company, Kelly K’s Designs. Known for her distinctive creativity, she is also open-hearted and generous when it comes to donating to worthy causes. Her handbags are popular and easily recognizable in the many silent and live auctions associated with the city’s charitable events. At her private showings, a portion of the sales are donated to Citizens for Animal Protection. She also is very involved with her three young children and volunteers at their schools.

Houston Astro LANCE BERKMAN is a hometown favorite. After graduating from Canyon High School near New Braunfels, he attended Rice University from 1995 to 1997. He was named the 1997 Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and named first team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine, Baseball America and the Sporting News. Berkman has continued his success with the Astros, amassing an All-Star career with MVP-caliber numbers. Along with the Methodist Hospital System, he has founded Berkman’s Bunch. For seven years, they have provided game tickets and promotional materials to underprivileged youth. Lance feels strongly about supporting the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and his church, Second Baptist Church.

NOBLE CARL is a native Houstonian and has been president of the Gainsborough Corporation since 1994. He is passionate about his work and equally passionate about participating in charitable endeavors that benefit children. He has worked on many events for the Children’s Assessment Center and the Children’s Museum. Recently, he and his wife, Anne, co-chaired the Polo Risotto Festival which benefited the Children’s Assessment Center. He is very active at Second Baptist Church and is also involved with Single Parent Ministry. He is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in his hometown.

BROOKE DANIELS is Miss Houston USA, 2007. She is a junior at Sam Houston State University, majoring in mass communications. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in school psychology in order to help children who have learning disabilities achieve their academic and personal potential. As the founder and mentor of ADDitudes for success, she believes she can help children with ADHD/ADD learn tips and strategies to overcome their disability. As a Race for the Cure and Sprint for Life participant, Brooke supports both the ovarian and breast cancer foundations. She is active at First Baptist Church Tomball and enjoys cooking, scrapbooking, running and spending time with her family.

JOANNE KING HERRING DAVIS became a major contributor to Houston since she began hosting “The Joanne King Show” on television in the late 1950s. By the late 70s, she was married to oilman Robert Herring and served as honorary consul to both Pakistan and Morocco. It was then she realized the Soviet Union intended to use Afghanistan as a steppingstone to dominate the Middle East and the world. Convinced American security was at risk, she began to make covert visits with a film crew to the Soviet Union to document Soviet soldiers attacking Afghan soldiers. A film about her exploits, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” opens in December starring Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Davis’ love for children shines in her charity work. She started a camp for foster children, supports a group focused on at-risk children and funds a group of 100 single mothers in five counties, helping with everything from personal hygiene to money management.

DEBORAH DUNCAN has been well-known to Houston’s television viewing public since she began hosting a daily talk show. Today, you can catch her every morning on Channel 11 news. Her gregarious personality is contagious and is a positive influence on everyone she meets. Duncan’s personality plays an integral part in the success of many charitable events by making donors easily part with their money and bringing a feeling of joy and fun to very serious fundraising efforts. Duncan’s work took on a personal touch after her brother was killed by a drunk driver. “Sometimes, you might not pick your cause or charity,” says Duncan. “It picks you.” She feels there is no better way to honor her brother than to talk to others about the dangers of drunk driving. She also co-chairs the Hope Gala for Santa Maria Hostel in celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary in April.

PAGE PARKES-EVELETH is co-owner of the largest talent and modeling agency group in the Southwest. During her 26 years of scouting and developing talent for the fashion industry, she has earned an outstanding reputation. Her awards include the National Businesswoman of the Year from the National Association of Women Business Owners, National Leadership Award, Fashion Forum Award and Winner of Distinction by the Better Business Bureau. Parkes-Eveleth is a board member of the Better Business Bureau and takes special pride in her long-time involvement as a board member of Child Advocates. This year she served as honorary chair of La Rosa Family Services’ Yellow Rose of Texas Celebration. Parkes-Eveleth and her husband, Bob, are the proud parents of three adopted children and her nephew, who they adopted two years ago. Parkes-Eveleth was recently honored by H Texas as one of Houston’s Best Moms.

DEBBIE GREENBAUM spends most of her time trying to keep up with the joys of her life: her three young daughters. A dedicated volunteer at the Kinkaid School, Greenbaum feels that it is very important to be involved with her family. She sits on the board of the Anti-Defamation League and for the last two years has worked with Caring Critters, a pet-assisted therapy group where members and their pets visit more than 200 hospitals and facilities in the Houston area.

MARY AND KELLI KICKERILLO are the dynamic mother-daughter duo who own Kickerillo Companies, a home and land development business. They also make immeasurable contributions to the community, giving of their time and resources to the American Heart Association, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund, the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Houston Symphony. Mary has chaired a variety of events and serves on the board of governors of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Palm Desert. She has had a 13-year-relationship with the Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart and has chaired many of their fundraising events. Last year, Mary and her husband, Vince, chaired Duchesne’s past parents’ annual giving fundraiser, pledging to match every dollar donation to the school. Kelli is also extremely active, serving on the alumni board for the University of St. Thomas, the advisory board for Texas A&M’s Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston, the board of trustees at Duchesne Academy and has chaired numerous fundraising events. Mary and Kelli share a simple philosophy concerning their charity work: education and medicine are the future. Their focus is giving to children in need, providing scholarships for those seeking education and helping doctors continue their medical research.

ALTON LADAY is the owner and founder of the LaDay Group, a public relations firm specializing in the promotion of luxury goods, brands and services. Alton enjoys integrating community service into his professional and personal life, serving on a variety of local and national boards and committees. He is also a member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Houston Steering Committee and chaired the HRC gala for two years. He chaired the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) Houston’s Take a Seat gala and Houston’s DIFFA Sweetheart Soiree. He also serves on the board of AIDS Foundation Houston and on the advisory board of Bering Omega Services.

STEVE LEWIS, vice president of Bernstein Global Wealth Management, gives his time and resources to numerous charitable organizations. Most notably, he serves on the board of the I Have a Dream Houston, a group that mentors and educates inner city, at-risk youths. Lewis is a founding member of the Star of Hope Planned Giving Council, whose goal is to help long-term donors give more efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of the homeless population. He is on the board of the Father’s Day Classic Charity Golf Tournament for the Methodist Retirement Communities and is the vice chairman of the Spring ISD Career &Technology Education Group. Lewis also volunteers his time as an auctioneer for a wide variety of organizations, including The Children’s Fund, Briar Grove Elementary and the Oil Baron’s Ball.

LINDA McREYNOLDS credits her fund-raising successes to her parents’ life-long example of community responsibility and the countless committee members who have served on her project teams. The diversity of her interests are reflected in her service to the boards of the Junior League of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Zoological Society, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Salvation Army. She is also a founding member of the Houston Ear Research Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She has been involved in many memorable events such as the funding and construction of the Houston Police Officer Memorial, the statewide 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Salvation Army, Miss Ima Hogg’s 100th Birthday Celebration at Bayou Bend and the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the chartering of Rice University. McReynolds has spent most of her life chairing, co-chairing and tirelessly working to raise funds for innumerable charitable causes.

KIM MOODY grew up watching her mother, the late Catherine Blissard, open her heart to serve others. Moody learned her lessons well, and has volunteered for most of her young life. She is on the River Oaks Country Club (ROCC) associate board and the Children’s Assessment Center Friends’ Guild. Moody co-chaired the Amschwand Sarcoma Foundation, the American Heart Association Go-Red Luncheon, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun for the Ronald McDonald House; and she chaired the Polo Risotto Festival for Children’s Assessment Center, the Christmas Holiday Boutique and the Fall Style Show at ROCC and the Children’s Museum luncheon in February.

MAEVE PESCERA is the beautiful face that greets Fleming’s Steakhouse diners. This full-time restaurant operator also finds time to help in the community, and very often can be seen working on charitable fund raisers. Pescera has co-chaired the Rose Ribbon Foundation’s major fundraiser, the Divine ValenTime Dinner, for three years. Her underwriting efforts have allowed the organization to provide surgeries for post-cancer survivors for a full year, which would otherwise cost millions of dollars for those without health insurance. She is also active with the American Heart Association and participates in many charitable endeavors.

ELIZABETH PETERSON‘s passions in life are spirituality, helping others and enjoying all that life has to offer along the way. Very active in the community, she has chaired two luncheons this spring — one for the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation and the Spirit of Spring Luncheon and Celebrity Fashion Show for the Children’s Assessment Center. Peterson serves on the steering committee of YES College Preparatory School, and is very involved with Saving Animals Across Borders. She focuses her philanthropic efforts on children, education and animals. With her husband, Gary, she is co-chairing the Museum of Natural Science gala next year, and together, they will serve as underwriter chairs for the Periwinkle Foundation gala. Peterson is looking forward to continuing her community service for years to come.

SUSAN PLANK has a real passion for issues concerning children. For many years she has been involved with Texas Children’s Hospital’s (TCH) Circle of Care, the advisory board of Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Plank and her 11-year-old-daughter Kendall have recently started a new program called, “Dec My Room” at TCH, where volunteers decorate the rooms of long-term cancer patients to make them feel more at home during their extended stay. Along with her husband, Mike, Susan co-chaired the Children’s Museum of Houston Gala, which broke all previous fund raising records. She will also co-chair the Children’s Museum Luncheon next year. Plank’s deepest hope is that one day her children will understand the importance of giving back to the community and understand the difference one person can make in the life of another.

VIRGINIA REISMAN, after earning a Bachelor of Science in speech and hearing, began her career as an elementary teacher. Later, after earning a Master of Science in education and child psychology, she served as a principal for two area elementary schools. In 1998, after earning a Doctorate in educational leadership, she founded Color Them Gifted, an educational consulting company that identifies gifted minority students. Reisman is a board member of Summerbridge Houston, an academic program that helps put low income, academically-gifted students on the path to college. She also serves on the board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and has served on the boards of Silver Grace Hope Foundation and the University of Houston Moores School of Music. She has chaired numerous charity galas and varied events. Today, Reisman serves as president of the Partnership for Baylor College of Medicine.

JESSICA ROSSMAN and her brother took Houston by storm when they branded their own form of pisco: Quiero Pisco. This young entrepreneur hasn’t slowed down since and is now a full-time attorney actively campaigning to bring life to Houston’s downtown scene. She devotes any spare time to Planned Parenthood and raising funds for some of Houston’s political leaders. The year she chaired Planned Parenthood’s “Party like a Rock Star” event was a record-breaking year.

SAMI SHBEEB is partner and CFO of Appian Partners, an investment banking advisory firm. He and his father own one of Houston’s most respected and influential floral companies, Flowers by Nino. In addition, he is a partner of The Social Book, an event calendar and resource guide. He has been involved in many charitable fund raising efforts because he feels strongly about giving back to the community. Most recently he joined the advisory board of the Deaf Blind Children’s Fund, Baylor College of Medicine and the Trey Rice Foundation for autistic children.

ALICIA SMITH‘s entrepreneurial drive led her to create a business of her own, Innovative Legal Solutions. In addition to having a fulfilling career, she is a wife, a mother to three young sons and a volunteer involved in a wide range of philanthropic endeavors. Highlights of her activities include active participation on the board of directors of the Houston Ballet, the Children’s Assessment Center, the March of Dimes Guild and the American Heart Association Guild. Smith is president of the Children’s Assessment Center Friends Board. She draws upon her extensive business skills as chair, co-chair, auction chair, invitation chair and advisor for events, festivals and galas. Her skills benefit the American Heart Association, the Amschwand Sarcoma Foundation, the Houston Ballet, the Bridge Over Troubled Water, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the National Kidney Foundation of Southeast Texas and the Ronald McDonald House.

MONSOUR TAGHDISI has a passion for home development and design. He also has a passion for helping others, and has become an integral part of Houston’s charity community. His love for children inspired him to serve on the board of UNICEF, and his feelings for his rescued boxer, Tyke, prompted him to co-chair the Citizens for Animal Protection gala and fashion show. Taghdisi recently co-chaired the Legacy Community Health Services. In the fall, he will lead the effort to establish an Islamic Art Gallery for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, with a goal of creating the largest exhibit of Islamic calligraphy ever assembled. Monsour hopes his efforts will give a positive perspective on Middle Eastern culture for many years to come.

PAUL DAVID VAN ATTA, director of catering at Hilton-Americas-Houston, has 25 years experience in the hospitality business and at one time was the youngest general manager in the corporation. He is known for his deep commitment to community service and has held positions on advisory boards and host committees for the Houston Symphony, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the Children’s Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, the Ensemble Theatre, the World AIDS Day Luncheon and The Social Book. For the past two years, Van Atta has been a top fundraiser for AIDS Walk Houston. He can also be found serving the homeless at the Salvation Army on Christmas Day.

DANCIE PERUGINI WARE heads one of the region’s most prominent public relations firms. Orchestrating high-visibility events that contribute to corporate success, this dedicated fifth-generation Galvestonian has been an instrumental force in the renaissance of her native city, as well as Houston. She has held advisory and board positions on the March of Dimes, the School of Architecture of the University of Houston and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Ware serves on boards of the Houston Grand Opera the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the Alley Theatre and the San Jacinto Girl Scouts. She has chaired the March of Dimes Best Dressed Luncheon, World AIDS Day Luncheon, the Houston Grand Opera’s Family Opera Brunch, the 1900 Storm Centennial Tribute and the Sheltering Arms Gala for Alzheimer’s Research.

SHERIDAN WILLIAMS is a talented interior designer with her own firm. She is very fashion forward, as she was listed on the 2007 Houston Chronicle’s Best Dressed list. She is also beautiful on the inside, as her heart shines in her daily life. Williams and her husband, John Eddy, are grateful his successful law career affords them the opportunity to give back to the community. “Because we are so blessed and so able to help others, we do,” says Sheridan. “We all need to remember that there are so many people out there who need help.” She volunteers at the Rise School and serves on several nonprofit boards. Sheridan and John Eddy are both committed to many varied causes, such as M. D. Anderson, Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor University’s law school and the Goodfellows annual holiday campaign. They also have become top buyers at the Houston Livestock Show &Rodeo’s wine auction.

ED YOUNG, pastor of Second Baptist Church, has seen his congregation grow from 2,000 members in 1978 to more than 40,000 members at five different locations in 2007. No one is more concerned for children than Pastor Young; a day rarely passes when his focus is not on children. “Children are the most neglected, over-looked entity in the world,” says Pastor Young. “If we want to build a bigger tent, the answer isn’t worship, its kids. If you love people’s kids, you’ll get their time and attention. Adults will come every Sunday if their kids love the church.” He and his wife, Jo Beth, were high school sweethearts in Laurel, Miss. These days, they take high school and junior high school students on beach retreats every summer.

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