25 Most Beautiful Houstonians 2014
For the ninth consecutive year, we honor our city’s individuals who exemplify beauty—on the inside and out.
by Warner Roberts
I blink and I’m writing the ninth edition of this “25 Most Beautiful Houstonians” article. I love writing it now as much as I did back in 2006. And, let me say that it has never been easy, because there are so many beautiful people in our city who are working on a variety of projects that improve the lives of others.
Some of those featured on these pages are well-known in the philanthropic community service arena. Others move quietly throughout the days working their magic in the lives of those who may never meet them or hear their names. All are very deserving.
What is beauty? Recently, I watched a Sports Illustrated television special, which recounted the magazine’s most popular issues featuring the most beautiful swimsuit models on the covers. Many famous models won awards, such as Heidi Klum and Christy Brinkley; the number-one award for the number-one cover in the history of the magazine went to Kathy Ireland. I ask myself the same question each time I see a show like this, or the Victoria’s Secret models in the Angel Wing Fashion Show, or when I watch the endless parade of famous actors and actresses on the red carpet at the many award shows—the Emmys, Tonys, Academy Awards, SAG and others; What is beauty? What I know is that I can line up 100 people and ask this question and I will get 100 different answers. Their answers are subjective: “In the eye of the beholder.” Do you notice the person’s eyes, face, hair, body, etc.? Or does their voice get your attention, does their face light up when they say “hello,” or does something they say move you and suddenly you find them to be beautiful?
It all comes back to what our moms taught us: “Beauty is as beauty does.” Or, it’s fun to remember a poem by Lord George Gordon Byron from the early 1800s: “She walks in beauty, like the night, Of cloudless climes and starry skies, And all that’s best of dark and bright, Meets in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellow’d to that tender light, Which Heaven to gaudy day denies. And on that cheek and o’er that brow, so soft, so calm yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent—A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent.” I’m latching on to Lord Byron’s phrase, “tell of days in goodness spent,” because that is how I perceive our 25 beautiful—walking in beauty and spending much of their time doing good things for others. With my associates at H Texas magazine, we proudly present the 25 Most Beautiful Houstonians of 2014.
Cathy Borlenghi, as an artist, has worn many hats, from handbag and leather accessories designer to being a potter and expressing her creativity with clay to her most recent creation, the MRS B Collection of fine jewelry, which is handcrafted in Italy with the finest pearls, semiprecious stones and 18K rose gold. It was her love of the arts that brought her close to the Houston Ballet, where she served on the board for many years, chaired the Nutcracker Market and co-chaired the Ballet Ball. Because of her deep faith and love of her Italian heritage, her focus often is on her church and diocese, serving Catholic Charities and UST. Currently, she serves on the Board of PARTNERS for the UT School of Nursing and the Board of Donne de Domani, the Italian heritage group of women who raise funds with their famous marinara sauce and donate all of the profits to charity. Cathy and her husband, Giorgio, the famous developer, first met in high school. With all their accomplishments, they are most proud of their children and grandchildren.
Lucia Caltagirone, since retiring from Galleria Bank in 1980, has concentrated on her husband, Tom, children and passion for volunteering in the community. One of her first priorities was being active in her children’s schools, from preschool on. She has been involved with the American Heart Association for 27 years, serving on the Board of the Guild for 26 years, and chairing and co-chairing numerous events over the years. She has been president of The American Heart Association Guild of Houston, Tri Delt Mother’s Club, River Oaks Luncheon Club and is currently the president of the Donne di Domani organization, which produces and sells spaghetti sauce at The Nutcracker Market and benefits several nonprofit organizations each year. Lucia recently co-chaired “A Samaritan Celebration,” benefiting Krist Samaritan; served as Host Committee Chair for the “On the Move” luncheon benefiting multiple sclerosis; and for several years, has worked on the Cystic Fibrosis Celebrity Waiter fund-raiser dinner.
Becky Foster Crane is currently president of the board of directors of the Nehemiah Center, a support center for at-risk children and their families. The Center features preschool, middle school and after-school programs as well as a library. Becky also serves on the board of trustees and on the executive committee of the TIRR (Texas Institute for Research and Rehabilitation) Family at TIRR Foundation. Additionally, Becky gives her time to the National Charity League, the Center for Hearing and Speech and The Women’s Home. Recently, she won the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Carolyn Heiman Lichtenberg Crest Award in honor of her 30-year history of community service.
Elizabeth Dorey is a senior associate of JMW and an executive coach who consults with management teams to identify possible obstacles to performance and assists organizations in their pursuit of performance targets. She is a big supporter of animal groups and charities, including aniMeals on Wheels, Houston SPCA and BARC. She has also served on the YES Prep committee and the March of Dimes.
Joshua Espinedo, as a Merrill Lynch wealth-management financial advisor, works with high-net-worth families, individuals and business owners in all areas of wealth management. Joshua is committed to developing personalized strategies to help clients identify and work toward achieving their financial goals. Josh was recently appointed by the mayor to serve on the TIRZ (tax re-investment board) for East End. He is also on the board for Legacy Community Health Centers; raised the most money for Prevent Blindness Texas 2013 Zoo Walk; contributes to AIDS Foundation Houston and SEARCH Homeless; and volunteers through Bank of America for Habitat for Humanity by building a house every year.
Sidney Faust and husband, Don, immediately became active in cultural and charitable activities when they moved to Houston in 1972. They have never stopped for a moment since. Sidney is a charter member of BRASS, a Baylor group that raises scholarship funds for medical research students. She served as president of the Friends of Crohn’s and Colitis for four years and chaired the CCFA Winter Ball. She co-chaired the Houston Symphony League Maestro luncheon as well as the Huffington Center on Aging Women’s Health Summit; The Salvation Army’s Reflections on Style Fashion Show “Chic Boutique”; the Gold Bricks Awards Dinner for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance; and has given a Halloween party for 13 years, which gathers toys for Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Since 1999, Sidney and Don have opened their ranch for “The Healing Tradition Retreats,” which provides a respite from the daily struggles of coping with cancer or a blood disorder for patients and their families at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
Jason Fertitta is a private wealth manager for Morgan Stanley in Houston and travels the globe visiting clients. He relishes time spent with wife, Courtney, his high school sweetheart, and three children, Ella and twins Alex and Vivienne. A top-notch golfer himself, Jack has chaired many golf tournaments in Houston and California that benefit a variety of his favorite charities. With Courtney, Jason chaired the SPCA Gala, and along with his two brothers, Julian and Zack, and their wives, Stephanie and Elizabeth, chaired Bo’s Place Gala this past year. Jason is a longtime member and has served as chairman of the board of The Museum of Natural Science. He has also chaired The Pearl Ball for The Good Samaritan Foundation and is an honorary chair for Santa Elves for M.D. Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. Currently, Jason is chairman of the board of The Good Samaritans, which provides nursing scholarships.
Dorothy Weston Gibbons has led The Rose from its inception in 1985 as a co-founder and CEO. Her responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day operations of two freestanding breast cancer–detection facilities, a 15-county mobile mammography program and The Rose 500 member Physician Network. The Rose provides more than 76,000 services annually, with 18,000 direct medical services provided to uninsured women through The Rose Empower Her® Sponsorship Program—a nationally recognized and replicated program.
Sam Governale, operating partner of Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, has more than 20 years of vastly diversified experience in the food and beverage industry, where he has won many awards. Prior to his restaurant career and ZAGAT Survey listing as a first-class sommelier, Sam was published for his work as a protein chemist in a New York University Hospital laboratory focused on Alzheimer’s disease. It was here that he, along with his father, established a foundation for his philanthropic and caring spirit. On behalf of Fleming’s, he supports the arts, schools and medical institutions. Sam is actively involved with Candlelighters, Children’s Cancer Alliance, the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, United2Cure, Sunshine Kids, City ArtWorks and The Rose Ribbon Foundation. Recently, he has become a committeeman for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; this year, he will raise funds for LLS as a candidate for the Man of the Year Campaign for the Houston chapter. Sam and his wife, Tina, are avid sports fans.
Frank S. Hinnant, senior account executive of Innovative Legal Solutions, Inc., makes time in his busy life for a multitude of volunteer efforts. He is chair of the 2013–2014 Annual Fund Campaign of The Kinkaid School, and also serves as a volunteer for various Kinkaid activities, including Upper School Library, and is a 10th Grade Yearbook Photography Committee member; he is also a former chair of the Kinkaid International Fair. Frank relishes his volunteer involvement with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, serving as a member of the World Championship BBQ Committee and Beverage Stands Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy, and a member and volunteer of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and of the Harris County Historical Society. He is an alumni volunteer for Texas A&M University and spends many volunteer hours on political campaigns.
Kathleen Jennings, a former attorney, is a wife, mother of two young sons and the founder of the Internet startup business BeautyNow. Even with such a busy schedule, she finds time to volunteer. She is serving as the underwriting co-chair for the Heroes for Children “Heroes & Handbags” luncheon and looking forward to chairing the 2015 “Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee,” benefiting the Houston Center for Literacy. Kathleen and her husband, James, dedicate their time and resources to a variety of causes, including Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Alliance, Texas Children’s Hospital, Breakthrough Houston, DBSA Greater Houston, The Houston Symphony and Episcopal High School.
Samantha Kennedy is managing director and a private client advisor for US Trust, where she has worked for 13 years with ultra-high-net-worth families on all aspects of their wealth planning. In addition to her busy professional life, she spends treasured time with husband, David, and her two children. Samantha always finds time to give back to the community, having worked for the Bank of America volunteer network for 15 years; she has also served as past chair of the network, which sets annual priorities for the Houston chapter and focuses on local areas of need and provides volunteers thoughout the year. These volunteer projects could be school mentoring, big brother/sister, clean-up projects around the city, etc. For the United Way, Samantha is a past chair for the Bank of America committee, focusing on fund-raising for various local organizations under the UW umbrella. She spends many volunteer hours working for Horn Academy, her children’s school, the Star of Hope and as a construction volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. She has been an active volunteer for The Mission of Yahweh homeless shelter for women for many years, and last year chaired its record-breaking gala.
Penny Loyd and her husband, Paul, consider their greatest accomplishments to be their five children and two grandchildren. As vice president of the Loyd Charitable Foundation, Penny works diligently in the community through her service on the boards of Boys and Girls Country, UNICEF, Boys and Girls Clubs of American Samoa, Theatre Under the Stars and the Marshall Plan Charities for Afghanistan Recovery. She is a member of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Asian Art subcommittee, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program committee in Dallas. She also serves on the board for SMU’s Annette Caldwell School of Education and Human Development.
Michelle Maresh is the owner, president and publisher of Houston Design Resources magazine. Recently, Houston Business Journal named her company one of the fastest-growing women-owned businesses in Houston. Michelle is the past chairman of the Ladies’ Go Texan committee for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and has held multiple roles of leadership with The Junior League of Houston, Inc. She has chaired numerous events for her son’s schools, Episcopal High School and St. Michael Catholic School and Church. She has also been an active volunteer for the Southwest Football League, Post Oak Little League, Trees of Hope, Epilepsy Foundation, The Susan B. Komen Make-A-Wish Foundation, Goodwill Gala, Starlight Gala, American Cancer Society and Citizens for Animal Protection.
Joanna Marks learned at an early age to give back to the community, and next to her husband, Brad, her daughter, Kennedy, her son, Garrison, and her large family of 13 siblings, community service is her favorite pastime. In college she worked with people with special needs through therapeutic horsemanship at SIRE. She is actively involved with the Mission of Yahweh, where she chaired the Mission Incredible Gala, The Periwinkle Foundation, Jamie’s Hope, Montgomery County Youth Services, Dec My Room, Alzheimer’s Association, Heroes for Children, West University Little League and is currently volunteering as director of the cheer program for the Southwest Football League.
Hannah McNair, as the wife of Cal McNair, president of the Houston Texans football team, is heavily involved with Lady Texans. This organization is comprised of the wives of the team, who work year-round on various community service projects. In addition to being mom to two small children and due to deliver her third at press time, Hannah serves on the board of DePelchin Children’s Center and most recently, chaired its fund-raising gala. Some of her other favorite charitable endeavors include the Houston Food Bank, The Mission of Yahweh homeless shelter, Candlelighters, Wounded Warriors, Bo’s Place, United Way, West University Little League, the Periwinkle Foundation and “Handbags and Heroes,” which benefits Heroes for Children, an organization that provides financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer.
Julie Pitts Mount currently serves as the executive director for the National Association of Corporate Directors, Texas TriCities Chapter, a nonprofit organization advancing exemplary board leadership for directors by directors. She is responsible for development and oversight of educational programs for corporate and nonprofit directors in the Houston, Austin and San Antonio markets. She has served as a board member for The Mission of Yahweh homeless shelter for women and children and since 1994, has also been an advisory board member. Her other nonprofit commitments provide volunteer and donor support to The Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation for patient and caregiver advocacy, Nora’s Home and Autism Speaks. She has a passion for mentoring college students and recent college graduates in the community.
Bruce Padilla, Director of Stores Baccarat Fine Gifts, feels that Houston is “absolutely the most generous community in the U.S., and I am proud to be a part of it.” He is on the development board of the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine, a board member of the Friends Guild of the Children’s Assessment Center, board member of the Citizens for Animal Protection Capital Campaign and former member of the executive committee of the French Chamber of Commerce. He has chaired or co-chaired numerous fund-raising events for Citizens for Animal Protection, as well as events for Houston PetSet and Interfaith Ministries Best Friends Brunch. He has served in leadership roles for Huffington Center on Aging Women’s Health Summit, Huffington Center Crystal Ball, Children’s Assessment Center Spirit of Spring Luncheon, Grady Middle School Art Gala, ESCAPE Family Resource Center, Star of Hope and Trees of Hope Gala, Houston Ballet, SNAP, BARC, SPCAS, TUTS, Easter Seals, Moores School of Music, VICTORY Houston and American Cancer Society.
David Peck’s career began with a degree in classical cello and was further developed at Ecole Parsons a Paris, where he studied fashion design. Currently, David runs David Peck USA, a full-service clothing design and manufacturing center on Kirby. The CrOp ready-to-wear brand focuses on social responsibility and strives to bring awareness to many causes. David enjoys welcoming charities into his studio for fund-raisers by providing a fun venue, beverages, custom graphics and invitation design; twenty percent of event sales are donated, compared to the usual 10 that most retailers offer. He has welcomed Covenant House Texas Guild members and their friends on several occasions.
Franelle Rogers has been active in community service work for much of her life. She has chaired numerous fund-raising events, including the Multiple Sclerosis Luncheon for five years, each year breaking a new record. She co-chaired the most recent Crohn’s & Colitis Winter Ball. For the past three years, she has served as Best Cellars Dinners Wine Chairman, benefiting T.J. Martell Foundation and M.D. Anderson. This year, Franelle is chairing the entire event. She co-chaired the Communities in Schools Gala event in 2009 and served as the chair in 2010. In 2011, she chaired the Eye Ball and was the Houston A+ Chairman the following year. In the past, she has served on several boards, including Child Advocates and American Cancer Cattle Barons.
Sue Smith, along with her husband, Lester, is a championship ballroom dancer and a philanthropist. The Smiths’ foundation supports numerous nonprofit organizations dedicated to medical science, education, arts and humanitarian causes. When Lester battled prostate cancer, they founded The Honor Your Father Campaign for Prostate Cancer Research and raised $6.4 million for Baylor College of Medicine. Next, they spearheaded a plan to recruit new members to BCM’s volunteer advocacy group through a series of events in their home, increasing membership in the Partnership by 300 percent. After losing her sister to breast cancer, Sue became a strong advocate for funding critical breast cancer research, including The Smith Foundation’s $30 million challenge grant to BCM’s Breast Center and Human Genome Sequencing Center. In addition, their interest in science education led to the creation of the Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault at the Houston Museum of Natural Science featuring the most extraordinary cut and polished jewels ever displayed in a single permanent exhibition.
Dr. Angela Sturm is a facial plastic surgeon at Facial Plastic Surgery Associates. In the field, Sturm’s meticulous nature makes for exceptional results and satisfied patients. She is passionate about promoting health and wellness as well as rejuvenating our community through involvement with Leadership Houston, D-Tag Tattoo Removal Program and the Fittest Doctor Challenge. She is interested in helping victims of domestic abuse, supporting Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and providing free care through the Face Foundation. Dr. Sturm holds a warm spot in her heart for animals and children. She was a Citizens for Animal Protection Honoree in 2013, and is an active member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and the Lamb and Goat Auction Committee. She is a Woman of the Year Candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and mentors pre-teen girls.
Sarah West is the owner of Sarah West & Associates, an architectural consulting firm that serves as a liaison between homeowners, builders and architects. Sarah’s organizational skills reduce the stress, which very often, affects most people in the unfamiliar territory of building a custom home. She is organized, passionate and extremely driven to minimize “bumps in the road.” First and foremost, her priority is to her husband, Larry, and her three sons to minimize “bumps in the road of life!” Next to her family, Sarah is most passionate about higher education and spends significant amounts of time fund-raising at Episcopal High School and the University of Texas System, including the University of Texas at Austin. She is thoroughly committed to serving the University of Texas, where she sits on the Development Board. She has been dedicated to supporting St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and Nick Finnegan Counseling Center for many years.
Phyllis Williams’ introduction to Houston’s charitable community began when she became a member of The Houston Cosmopolitan Exchange Club. She then expanded her volunteer effort to such organizations as the Houston Police Activities League, Escape Center for Women, March of Dimes, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, SEARCH Foundation, Houston Children’s Charity, Child Development Center and Project Row Houses, where she served as vice president of the board, and Children’s Assessment Center, where she serves on the board. Phyllis has chaired and co-chaired numerous events, such as the KICKSTART Foundation Gala, Houston Humane Gala, the HHS Gala, the CCFA Winter Ball, the University of Houston Moores School of Music Gala and the Zina Garrison All Court Tennis Foundation Gala. An avid golfer, Phyllis is the founder and president of Birdie Wear, Inc., which manufactures women’s golf apparel. She and husband, Cornel, give all of their attention to organizations which motivate and nurture children.
Lynn Wyatt, international social and fashion icon, has been named “Socialite of the Century” by Texas Monthly and was inducted into the International Best Dressed list Hall of Fame in 1977. Hobnobbing with many haute couturiers, rock stars and celebrities worldwide, she has championed many national and international causes, such as the Bal de la Rose in Monaco, benefiting the Red Cross and the American Hospital of Paris. President Ronald Reagan appointed her to the board of the U.S. Naval Academy, where she served for eight years. She has worked tirelessly for The Houston Grand Opera, where she is a member of the Founders’ Council for Artistic Excellence, Life Patron and Vice Chairman; she chaired the Opera’s record-setting 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee Gala, which raised $2.5 million. She serves as a Life Trustee for the Star of Hope Mission for the Homeless, and each year, serves as Honorary Trustee of the Trees of Hope benefit gala. Additionally, Lynn serves as a Trustee for the Alley Theatre, Museum of Fine Arts and is an executive committee member of the Houston Ballet. She and husband, Oscar, most enjoy their children, grandchildren and relaxing at Tasajillo, their Duval County ranch.