LCAHouston Magazine Summer 2019

lcahouston

SUMMER 2019

LCAHouston

LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION

International Society News

LEGACY

THE SOIRÉE SAGA

7 TH ANNUAL

International

Mother’s Day

Soirée

India's Daughter By

Leslee Udwin

ASIA SOCIETY

TEXAS CENTER

CELEBRATES

40TH

ANNIVERSARY

Cover Story

Dream Builder

Swapnil Agarwal


Where cultures, art,

and ideas converge.

Engaging Greater Houston through Exhibitions,

Performances, Speakers Series, and Family Events

Located in Houston’s Museum District | 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004

STAY CONNECTED: AsiaSocietyTexas | AsiaSocietyTX | AsiaSocietyTX | #AsiaSocietyTX | AsiaSociety.org/Texas


Contents

Editor | Ruchi Mukherjee

Art + Design | Ranjan Roy

Photo Editor | Sandeep Khandelwal

Editing Assistance | Purva Patel

Special Thanks To

Stuart Rosenberg, Studio

Communications

Kim Padgett, Padgett Group

Laura Pennino, Pennino

and Partners

Contributing Photographers

Priscilla Dickson

Kim Coffman

Michelle Watson

Cindy Cheng

Grant Foto

Select Studios

Quy Tran

Sonya Abid

Mohammad Qais Mujeeb

Melissa Chan Tuason

Letter from the Editor 3

The Contributors 4

Cover Story

Dream Builder 7

Celebrity

Anil Kapoor Mesmerizes Houstonians at the Pratham Gala 13

Fashion

Bibhu Mohapatra Celebrates Ten Year’s of Fashion at 2019 New York Fashion Week 16

Society

Glitzy Glamorous Gatsby Angel Awards Gala 19

Asia Society Texas Center Celebrates ‘Fabulous Forty’ Raising $1.418 Million at Annual Tiger Ball 38

Best Dressed Luncheon Remembers Lester Smith Raising Record Breaking $2.06 Million 40

Ars Lyrica Houston Breaks Fundraising Record at a Mid-Winter Night’s Dream Gala 41

Stephen Brunelle, VP General Manager of Neiman Marcus, and Ruchi Mukherjee Host & Founder of

International Mother’s Day Soirée Reveal the 2019 Honorees at Neiman Marcus 42

Houston Children’s Charity Gala Raises $1.9 Million and a Mesmerizing Performance by STYX 44

On the Cover | Swapnil Agarwal

Photographed exclusively for

LCAHouston by | Gittings

Styled by | Natalie Galerne

Bayou Bend Garden Luncheon with Designer Adam Lippe 45

Music in Motion at the VIRTUOSI OF HOUSTON a Captivating Evening of Amazing Dances 46

Inaugural Karya Kares Foundation Gala Raises $100,000 47

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina Inaugurates Houston Women’s Area BELIEVE Luncheon 49

Outfit | Custom made

tailored suit in London

2019 LCAHouston.com

1


Contents

Disclaimer

LCAHOUSTON, LLC does not warrant

or assume any legal liability or

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or usefulness of any information,

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and expenses) arising from such use.

LCAHOUSTON, LLC does not endorse

or recommend any article, product,

service or information found within

said articles or ads. The views and

opinions of the authors who have

submitted articles to LCAHOUSTON,

LLC belong to them alone and do

not necessarily reflect the views

of LCAHOUSTON, LLC or its staff.

Links to other web sites from

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are provided for convenience

only. LCAHOUSTON, LLC is not

responsible for the content or

availability of any external or 3rd

party sites and does not warrant or

guarantee the products, services, or

information found on these sites.

LifeBytes

Food

The Power of the Spoken Word 21

Mayor of Houston Unveils the Brigitte & Bashar Kalai Plaza of Respect 23

Cooking Up Dreams 25

Making Changes & Taking Chances 30

A Roma in Houston 26

Cin Cin Htown! 27

Profile

The Plight of India’s Daughters 29

Legacy

The Soirée Saga 32

7th Annual International Mothers' Day Soirée 51

All articles, photographs and

illustrations appearing in LCAHOUSTON,

LLC Magazine or website are

copyright their respective authors,

whether named or not. All other

materials are © 2017 LCAHOUSTON,

LLC. All Rights Reserved.

For Sponsorship and Advertising opportunities

CONTACT:

info@lcahouston.com

www.lcahouston.com

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LCAHouston.com 2019


2019 Summer Edition

We are proud to showcase, for the first time, a man on the Summer Edition cover of

LCAHouston Magazine. This year we feature the dynamic, young, entrepreneur Swapnil

Agarwal, Founder & CEO of Nitya Capital and Karya Property Management. The spirits of

powerful women continue to run through the pages of LCAHouston, but we look forward

to expanding our articles to include compelling stories from all perspectives. This edition is

an equally potent blend of female strength, beauty, fashion, society events, and masculinity.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Leslee Udwin, Director of the documentary India’s Daughter. This

film boldly challenges our upbringings, and forces us to examine our perspective on how we, as a society, should

raise our sons and daughters.

Earlier in the Spring, I was fortunate enough to attend the celebration of Bibhu Mohapatra’s ten-year anniversary of

his own collection at the New York Fashion Week. I caught a few other phenomenal shows including Alice & Olivia,

and had the opportunity to personally meet famed designers Stacey Bendet and Anna Sui.

This year, LCAHouston International Society News Magazine marks its Tenth

Anniversary. We continue our journey of recognizing the phenomenal mothers from diverse

ethnic backgrounds, highlighting the wonderful charities that serve our citizens, and

cherishing our ever-evolving community.

Exciting new venues emerging on the Houston food scene continues to be a trend in 2019. But, we would like to take

the opportunity in this edition to tell the story of the enduring Goddess of Indian Cuisine, Kiran Verma.

We continue to honor the heroic, stylish, and fabulous mothers of Houston. This year we salute the new faces of the

2019 International Mother’s Day Soirée Honorees:

Sadaf Aslam, Liza Bailey, Tammy Gee Su, Courtney Zubowski Hass, Samantha Holsomback, Sheekha Sethi

Khan, Fadila Kibsgaard, Peta Gay Ledbetter, Sofia Ojeda, Escarle Silva, Melissa Wilson, and Showstopper... Hallie

Vanderhider.

I would also like to thank the past seven years of Honorees that have made the Soirée what it is. They continue to

inspire us with their stories.

This year, LCAHouston International Society News Magazine marks its Tenth

Anniversary. We continue our journey of recognizing the phenomenal

mothers from diverse ethnic backgrounds, highlighting the

wonderful charities that serve our citizens, and cherishing our

ever-evolving community. We move upwards and onwards

in our mission to bridge the gap between the ethnic and

mainstream communities with journalistic integrity.

I am honored to be featured in the Neiman Marcus 2019

Mother’s Day window display. My daughter Aryika

and I were photographed by none other than Gittings,

something I will always cherish.

We hope our readers enjoy this edition of LCAHouston

Magazine as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Happy reading!

Ruchi Mukherjee

Founder/Editor

LCAHouston, LLC

Ruchi Mukherjee with daughter Aryika

Photo Courtesy | Gittings & Neiman Marcus


The

Contributors

Dan Mayur

Dan Mayur is an engineer and freelance writer. He is a graduate of IIT

Bombay, and has a PhD from Rice University. He has worked for Shell

Oil and Bechtel in senior capacities in various parts of the world. Mayur

is active on the speaker circuit and has presented numerous papers in

international conferences. Dan has written four books, “Mumbai to

Stockholm via New York – Reflections of a Globetrotter”, “SamajRang”,

“Living Dreams” and “The Four Ls – A Memoir.” His interests include

writing about people, places, and politics. A global citizen in spirit, he resides

in Sugar Land, Texas.

Natalie Galerne

Natalie Galerne is a native Houstonian and recent graduate from Baylor

University. She has served as a contributing editor for Baylor Magazine

and The Tab. Today, she considers herself very lucky to get to write for

LCAHouston about her many passions of this diverse community. She

is an active advocate for auto immune and chronic pain disorders.

Natalie volunteers with the Junior League of Houston, the Barbara

Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and is also a patron of the Museum

of Fine Arts Houston. She currently works in Washington DC for two

government officials. Natalie plans to return to Houston next year to pursue

her MBA. She can most likely be found at Le Colonial,

Neiman’s or poolside at Hotel Zaza.

Krupali Laxmidas

Krupali Laxmidas is London-born, Zimbabwe raised, and now a

self-proclaimed and proud Houstonian. Krupali studied International

Business and Marketing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and is

currently working full time in the field of finance. She is passionate about

fashion, travel, and interior design, and recently began blogging to fuel her

creative side. She incorporates her experiences from living abroad, and her

diverse background, into much of what she writes about.

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LCAHouston.com 2019


Shruti Chakraborty

Shruti Chakraborty is a technology enthusiast, currently studying

Mechanical and Robotics Engineering at ECAM School of Engineering in

Lyon France. She is an avid reader and is passionate about writing. Shruti

has actively covered galas, several international conventions, and has

interviewed people abroad for LCAHouston.

Her poem “Peace In the Womb” was nominated “Best in International

Category” in the International Peace Poem Competition at St Olaves

Grammar School, Kent, UK, and was also chosen to be published in

the 2016 ‘i Write Short Stories For Kids by Kids” contest supported by the

Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation. She has also received special mention from

the Royal Society of Arts London, in 2016 for her poem “Do you have a home?”

dealing with the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Congratulations to Ruchi Mukherjee &

the 7th Annual International

Mothers' Day Soirée Honorees

Milka Waterland

Instagram: @milkawaterlandofficial

2019 LCAHouston.com

Aida Holguin

Newhomeprograms.com

Email: Aida.holguin@newhomeprograms.com

Phone 713-855-3343

Instagram: aidaholguinrealestate

Facebook: Aida Holguin Houston

5


Gittings

Portraiture

www.gittings.com

A Collection

of Houston's

Best Dressed

Sponsored by

Neiman Marcus


COVER STORY

DREAM

BUILDER

By Ruchi Mukherjee

Nitya Capital leadingman,

Swapnil Agarwal,

may be a fresh face

for our readers, but

this 37-year-old

businessman has

taken Houston

by storm.

Photographed by Gittings


Early in the morning, before

the LCAHouston Cover

Shoot at Gittings, the

young debonair gentleman

with a boyish smile, is as

calm as can be. Amidst

frequent travels and important work

meetings, Swapnil poses perfectly for

the cameras. Dressed in a tailored threepiece

navy blue suit from London, with

a humble demeanor that is still beaming

with enthusiasm, he tells us “It was

exactly July 11, 1996, at the age of fifteen,

when I moved to Houston with my

parents.”

Today, Mr. Agarwal is responsible for

strategic planning, investment decisions,

and overseeing all aspects of Nitya

Capital's operations, financing activities,

and investor relations. But as a teenager,

who emigrated from India, he saw his

parents struggle for what they earned.

Having lived, what he describes as “a

tough life,” inspired him to create a

better one for himself. “There is nothing

wrong in enjoying the nicer things in life.

It’s about how you treat others and how

much you place value in materialistic

possessions,” he says. “I will never forget

that in 1996, I used to ride the bus every

day. Back then I told myself that, when

I get my first job, I would first get a nice

car. I still fondly remember that it was a

Mercedes.”

Seventeen years later, when he

bought a multi-family property as an

entrepreneurial venture and followed

it up with 62 additional properties, he

put a high premium on security and

upgrades, including granite counter-tops,

stainless steel appliances, quality fixtures,

and state of the art gyms. He strongly

believes in creating a safe family-friendly

environment for residents, something his

family could never have growing up.

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LCAHouston.com 2019


“I met my wife when I was in 6th grade.

We were family friends. It’s an

exciting journey for both of

us as we grow up together.

Lucky to say, my childhood

friend is my soulmate.”

As an entrepreneur, he is drawn to

responsible roles. Swapnil, along with

his wife Deepika, are involved in several

charitable organizations such as Magic

Bus and Pratham, as well as supporting

two schools in India. He recharges

by playing sports with his 5-yearold

son Aryan who loves playing the

piano. “Sports makes you a disciplined

person,” says Swapnil. “That is why it’s

very important that I encourage all my

employees to play some sport together,

because I believe when you play a sport,

while being competitive, everyone is

equal. No one is richer or poorer. You

just compete to win.”

2019 LCAHouston.com

Swapnil has over 16 years of financial

and investment experience, and 13 years

of those in global real estate. He began

his career in energy investment banking

at Simmons & Company before joining

Forum Partners, an international real

estate private equity firm with over $5

billion in assets, where he focused on

originating, structuring, and executing

real estate investments in the Asia Pacific

region. Agarwal is a believer in social

capitalism. “I pursue in the win-win

model. Whether it’s my 600 employees,

investors, professional or personal

connections, I strongly recommend that

a businessman can only be successful

Deepika and Swapnil Agarwal

when he has the best interest of the

people around him.”

Swapnil believes he has a higher goal in

life. He believes that he has been placed

in this world to make a difference,

and to improve the lives of the people

around him. This extremely busy young

entrepreneur wraps up the interview

with one last statement. “It’s simple

Ruchi. The one message that I can give

as an entrepreneur is that profit should

never be ones’ true goal,” says Swapnil.

Photographed by Gittings

9


Photographed by Gittings

“Sports really do keep me grounded. It makes

everyone equal. When I am tired or stressed I

go watch a game. My idols:

Kapil Dev, Virat Kohli,

Novak Djokovich, George

Springer, Craig Biggio

and Deshaun Watson.

When it comes to my

favorite Indian cinema

actor, it’s the one and

only Amitabh

Bachchan.”

RM: What are your

favorite restaurants?

SA: “We cannot wait

to dine at the soon

to open Spice Route

in the Galleria.

You can often find

me and Deepika

at Nobu, or for a

quick cravings fix,

we like London

Sizzlers.”

10

Deepika and Swapnil Agarwal

LCAHouston.com 2019


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CELEBRITY

Anil Kapoor Mesmerizes

Houstonians at the

Pratham Gala

“It is absolutely wonderful to see where

Pratham has reached in 20 years. Such a

large gathering of educated professionals

supporting the show, and what a wonderful

organization it is. Truly one of the best

in the nation,” says Guest

of Honor, Anil Kapoor.

On April 20, 2019,

while Houston was

mourning the loss of

a prominent Indian

American community leader

and Pratham member Sonal

Bhuchar, the organization

was also making history by

raising $4.5 million at the

annual Gala event.

“We are excited to celebrate

20 years of Pratham USA

and have the privilege to honor

Mr. Vijay Goradia, who is the

founder of Pratham USA at the annual

Gala for his dedication, commitment,

and hard work to start and grow such

a strong organization and help millions

of children and youth in India,” explains

Pratham USA Houston Chapter

President, Asha Dhume. Houstonians

were also mesmerized to have

renowned famed Slumdog Millionaire

actor Anil Kapoor amongst them. He

was generous and gracious in helping

raise funds for a notable cause. “He

was adorable, I was touched to see

Anil Kapoor

2019 LCAHouston.com

Photos By | Bijay Dixit

13


Pankaj and Asha Dhume, Marie and Vijay Goradia, Anil Kapoor, and Swatantra and Bimla Jain

his humbleness by literally falling at Mr. Swantantra Jain’s

feet, who donated $1 Million to the cause,” shared Nicole

O’Brian Lassiter, former Miss Texas USA and Emcee for

the evening.

More than 900 philanthropically-minded patrons attended

the Gala, which is one of the premier fundraising events

hosting prominent Houstonians, corporate executives, and

members of the community.

The Houston chapter is one of the single largest

contributors of the global Pratham organization which

raises approximately $30 Million annually.

This glitzy, glamorous, sold-out event at the Hilton

Americas Ballroom concluded with a runway style fashion

extravaganza, showcasing designer Anita Dongre.

Anita Dongre

14

Nicole O’Brian Lassiter

Ali and Habiba Dhanani

LCAHouston.com 2019


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FASHION

BIBHU MOHAPATRA

CELEBRATES TEN YEAR’S

OF FASHION AT 2019

NEW YORK

FASHION WEEK

LCAHouston was personally invited by Bibhu Mohapatra

himself to attend his Tenth Anniversary runway show, at

New York Fashion Week in February, where he revealed

his Fall/Winter 2019 Collection. This Indian American

gentleman did not fail to mesmerize his audience.

A master of pairing clothing while staying authentic to his

roots, Mohapatra perfectly married his Indian heritage with

contemporary styles. This collection’s designs and patterns

were inspired by Mohapatra’s partner, artist Bobby Beard.

The Victorian era inspiration was on full display as models

walked the runway donned in fascinators. The showstopper

gown was created out of black silk gabardine and black

velvet with crystals. It took fifteen artisans to make Bibhu’s

dream come to life.

At this fashion celebration many notable fashion writers

present from Vogue to our very own Houston Fashion

Editor, Clifford Pugh who has witnessed Bibhu grow and

flourish into a brand. Many celebrities like: Hilary Swank,

Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenn Close, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara,

Rita Ora and Lupita Nyong’o have all worn Bibhu’s designs

and he has had the honor of dressing the US First Lady,

Michelle Obama.

"It was great to see Bibhu back on the runway at New

York Fashion Week, particularly to celebrate his 10th

anniversary. Gowns are his specialty and he rose to the

occasion with hand-embroidered crystal beading, lace

appliques, satin bows, and other distinctive touches.

Standouts included gowns draped with satin petals at the

shoulders or with big hoop skirts, and evening dresses

trimmed in fabric emblazoned with his name,” explains

Clifford.

Inspiration from nature, in the form of petals, were

prominently featured in the construction of his gowns.

Mohapatra’s handcrafted work has distinguished him from

other designers for a decade now, and we hope that it will

continue to do so for many years to come.

Bibhu Mohapatra

Bobby Beard & Ruchi Mukherjee

Anupam Kher

Waris Ahluwalia

Photos By | Sandeep Khandelwal

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LCAHouston.com 2019


FASHION

Fall/Winter 2019 Collection By Bibhu Mohapatra

2019 LCAHouston.com

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LCAHouston.com 2019


SOCIETY

Glitzy Glamorous Gatsby

Angel Awards Gala

The 11th Annual Be an Angel Awards Gala, “The

Great Gatsby”, was held on Friday, April 12th at The

Astorian. Endorsing the theme, several guests wore

vintage 1922 Gatsby-style attire.

Raising $500,000, the banner evening was chaired by

Dot and Walt Cunningham, honored Twila Carter,

Executive Director of the Astros Foundation, and Robert

Woods, co-founder and CEO of the Center for Success and

Independence.

Spotted at this Gatsby Soirée were: Dan Pastorini & Pam

Morse, John & Pam Breeding, Dr. Jorge & April Salazar,

Marian Harper, David & Dianna Voll, Sara & James Parr,

Sean Buckley & Marisol Quijano, Ray & Karen Solcher,

Jim & Roxie Anderson, Bob & Glenna Leonard, David &

Lucia Warden, Joel & Sunshine Rogers, Mark & & Hanh

To, Ross Astramecki, Suraiya Culp & Raul Lema, Pastor

Kevin Edelbrock, Supriyo Mukherjee, Pastor Juan Alaniz

& Josie Alaniz.

Dr. Jorge & April Salazar

Photos By | Fulton Davenport

Deborah Duncan

Fred Haise, Dot & Walt Cunningham

Katie Blatt & Reggie Gray

Dot Cunningham, Marti Boone & Twila Carter

2019 LCAHouston.com

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THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD

LIFEBYTES

MasterWord’s Founder and CEO Ms. Mila Golovine unfolds her entrepreneurial spirit and bright

mind on business, diversity, and giving back with LCAHouston contributor, Natalie Galerne.

Soft spoken, mellow and poised. Ms. Mila Golovine

recounts the success that the recent years have

brought to MasterWord, her renowned, dynamic

language translation and interpreting company that

has been evolving since its founding in 1993. “We work

with over 250 languages in Houston and over 400 languages

worldwide. Through our work, our interpreters give people

access to education, healthcare and government services.

We have a diverse company that deals with translations

in various aspects of the business sector. We’ll help

internationally expand a company or product to the global

market.”

The Bauer College of Business graduate, who credits her

life’s mission to a strong desire to help others learn, is

optimistic about this year’s interpreter training at the Jung

Center’s Mind, Body Spirit Institute. This is just one of

several programs Mila has created to assist the company’s

interpreters with the trauma they see on any given day.

“Trauma?” I ask, puzzled.

“Oh yes,” Mila pauses. “Let me give you an example.

MasterWord provided interpretation services for the Ebola

crisis here a few years ago. Knowing that you might die,

too can be very traumatic. We help people communicate in

emergency rooms, and in medical settings, during birth and

during end of life, in courts and in jails. We interpret for

victims of human trafficking and child abuse and in many

other difficult situations. Interpreters don’t just witness the

trauma, as they convey the information from one language

to another, they channel the trauma and are affected at a

very deep level.”

In addition to her work with MasterWord, Mila serves on

the Board of Directors of the Rothko Chapel, Advisory

Board for the Mind, Body, Spirit Institute of the Jung

Center, Chairs the Advisory Subcommittee for the

Translation and Interpretation Program at Houston

Community College, is the Manager of the Texas Chapter of

Women in Localization, and is an active member of several

professional organizations. She is also an avid supporter

of the Asia Society, Friends of Integrative Medicine at

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the

Greater Houston Partnership.

Mila’s persistent dedication to Houston and its diverse

community are what I find most inspiring about the

Russian-born entrepreneur. “Every culture has value.

Photo By | Sonya Abid

2019 LCAHouston.com

Here in Houston, we can see the beauty of every culture

and every language without even leaving the city. Diversity

is something to be embraced and celebrated, always. We

speak Russian, English, and Spanish just around the house,

my son learned Chinese and the baby is learning French.” It

is important to Mila that her children be given a taste of all

cultures and communities locally and globally. Their travels

thus far have taken them to 26 countries in Europe, Asia

and Latin America - with many more to come.

And when it comes to Houston? How do they spend their

precious time? “Here in Houston we very much love to visit

the museums. I don’t think there’s a single exhibit we’ve

missed,” says Mila. “I really recommend taking a day to visit

Houston as though you were from out of town. You just

might see something you didn’t see before.”

Mila Golovine

21


Our Most Heartfelt Thanks to Each and Every One of the

Leading Women for Public Safety

for standing side by side with Crime Stoppers of Houston to

keep our neighborhoods, businesses and schools safe!

Elva Akin

Natalie Ariz

Lindsay Aronstein

Ericka Bagwell

Jacquie Baly

Lara Bell

Hunter Bell

Susan Boggio

Caroline Brown

Bethany Buchanan

Donae Chramosta

Roula Christie

Nichole Christoph

Ellen Cokinos

Laura Davenport

Melissa Davis

Carolyn Dodson

Deborah Duncan

Elizabeth Williams Dwyer

Tracy Faulkner

Tena Faust

Varda Fields

Esther Freedman

Gabriela Gerhart

Yasmine Haddad

Michelle Heinz

Joni Hoffman

Jennifer Hohman

Leisa Holland-Nelson

Jenna Jackson

Brigitte Kalai

Katrina Kelly

Maha Khan

Mona Khan

Sippi Khurana

Caroline Harper Knapp

Alma Kombargi

Claudia Kreisle

Toni Lawrence

Logan Leal

Linda Schaefer Levy

Shelley Taylor Ludwick

Tama Lundquist

Rania Mankarious

Kim Moody

Jerri Duddlesten Moore

Jenny Moore

Maria Morales

Liena Morrison

Ruchi Mukherjee

Tia Neyman

Tricia Oliver

Megan Ortiz

Crystal Parker

Stephanie Perkins

Amy Pierce

Sukaina Rajani

Rachel Regan

Jennifer Reyna

Dallas Rowden

Ashley Seippel

Joy Sewing

Jennifer Sieracki

Kendra Smith

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LIFEBYTES

MAYOR OF

HOUSTON

UNVEILS THE

BRIGITTE &

BASHAR KALAI

PLAZA OF

RESPECT

More than 200 people

from various faiths and

ethnicities, along with

the Mayor of Houston

Sylvester Turner, gathered on a gorgeous

sunny day on April 2, 2019 to unveil

the Brigitte & Bashar Kalai Plaza of

Respect in the heart of Midtown.

Interfaith Ministries (IM) Board of

Directors Chair Shaukat Zakaria and

Immediate Past Chair Paula Sutton

welcomed guests and introduced Mayor

Sylvester Turner. Turner thanked IM

and its supporters for creating a place to

celebrate the city’s rich diversity and to

educate the community about the many

faiths in Houston. IM CEO Martin B.

Cominsky then addressed guests and

thanked the Kalais for making the Plaza

of Respect possible as a symbol of the

heart of Houston in the heart of Houston

that will host and bring diverse groups

together to foster respect, dialogue and

service. He also recognized the major

sponsors who were instrumental in

making the Plaza possible specifically

Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Patti

and Richard Everett, the Clark and

Charlene Thompson Foundation, and

Shell.

In summer 2013, Interfaith Ministries

took a bold step into the future when

it moved from its previous offices and

made its new home in the heart of

Midtown at 3303 Main Street. IMGH’s

location has the following entities located

within a 3 mile-radius: The Museum

District, Rice University, the Texas

Medical Center, downtown Houston,

Photos By | Quy Tran

2019 LCAHouston.com

Plaza Ribbon Cutting

Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center,

the George R. Brown Convention

Center, and key institutions such as the

University of St. Thomas, University of

Houston, and Texas Southern University.

Major bus and light rail lines cross

within a block of the building.

IMGH sought not only to be convenient

and strategically placed, but also to

be a heartbeat of the city, a symbol of

service and faith, that people who may

not believe alike or think alike can love

alike, that these differences can be a

source of strength. And now, what was

once a plain and serviceable patio has

become a beacon of hope, a beautiful

space dedicated to learning, dialogue,

and community.

“The Plaza of Respect stands for the next

generation to hear their stories being

inspired by the hard work and dedication

and to learn about their faith and the

faiths of others, and to encourage and

challenge the wisdom of the crowd,” shares

Bashar.

Bashar and Brigitte Kalai are the

principal donors for the Brigitte &

Bashar Kalai Plaza of Respect. A

successful businessman, prominent

philanthropist, and member of Houston’s

Muslim community, the Kalais saw in the

Plaza a worthy project of tile and stone,

of glass and metal, and of inspiration

and dedication. The Plaza was initially

designed by Gensler’s Ryan Marchesi

and Kristopher Stuart, and generously

completed by PBK Architects.

Dan and Susan Boggio

Brigitte and Bashar Kalai

23


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LIFEBYTES

Houstonians with a discerning palate know that a

bright star has risen on the horizon of the city’s

restaurant landscape. In this highly competitive

business, Kiran

Verma, Executive Chef

and Owner of Kiran’s,

stands tall. Fondly called

the Godmother of up-scale

dining, she represents India

at its culinary best. Located in

the fashionable Upper Kirby

district, Kiran’s spacious

interior epitomizes elegance, class, and

quality at a level rarely visible in Indian

restaurants.

Connoisseurs see Kiran’s cuisine as

a titillating fusion of the East and

West, a combination of cultures,

philosophies and cooking techniques,

while retaining Indian authenticity and

traditions. You never go to Kiran’s just

once. There is always more to try and

taste. Among the numerous innovative

dishes at Kiran’s, my favorites are the

Mango Lassi, Seekh Kebab, Chilean

Sea Bass, Rack of Lamb, Bison

Kofta Curry, and her incredible

selection of specialty Naans, crisp

veggies, delectable Biryanis and the

mouthwatering Trio of Crème Brulee

or Gulab Jamun for dessert. Talking

about innovation, a must-try in all its

delicious decadence here is the Samosa

filled with chocolate hazelnut ganache

with salted caramel and chai ice cream!

Kiran’s has been recognized in the

local media and its list of awards is as

long as its extensive menu.

Behind this classic American success story is a human

dynamo of unbounded energy and passion for excellence,

Kiran Verma, the person. I have known Kiran for over two

decades, and have watched her spectacular growth with

admiration. What makes Kiran tick?

On a fine Monday morning recently, at 11 AM sharp, I

arrived at Kiran’s to listen to her fascinating life story. She

was in her trade-mark Chef ’s coat giving instructions of

the day to her staff. It was too early for the lunch guests to

arrive, but the place was abuzz with activity. She greeted me

with a big hug and an even bigger smile. We sat down at a

cozy table in her beautifully appointed bar, where a waiter

brought us steaming Masala Chai and a plate of homemade

biscotti. She knew my purpose and obliged.

The product of a traditional middle-class Indian family,

Kiran was married at 18 leaving her dream of a professional

2019 LCAHouston.com

COOKING UP DREAMS

Chef Kiran Verma

By Dan Mayur

The Godmother of Indian

cuisine, Kiran Verma sits down

with Dan Mayur to share her

journey and the recipe for

Kiran’s.

education unfulfilled. But she still longed for a career, to be

financially independent, and to do good while doing well.

She had always enjoyed cooking and feeding. Her drive,

compassion, and nurturing

attitude led her to cooking

beyond the familial setting.

She cooked for the friends

of her children, neighbors,

and acquaintances. When the

children flew away to college,

and the Vermas became

empty-nesters, Kiran jumped

into the restaurant business with both

feet. There are Indian restaurants

galore in Houston, most of them

featuring mediocre and mundane

buffets. Kiran recognized a definite

need and market for an upscale Indian

restaurant. She chose class over mass,

focusing on quality, not quantity.

Immensely proud of her Indian

heritage, she has been driven to restore

Indian cuisine to its rightful glory

and to make cooking a respectable

profession. With that philosophy,

she has emphasized contemporary

décor, fine china, excellent wines,

and above all else, exquisite food and

incomparable service. Her formula

is simple. “Use the finest, freshest

ingredients with subtle use of herbs

and spices for delicate flavors to create

delicious, light and healthy meals. Just

like grandma’s cooking.”

Coincidentally, as she finished saying

this, a waiter brought out the most

delicious Corn Soup with Poblano,

hot buttered Stuffed Paratha, and zesty

Paneer Karahi.

She says “Cooking is both a sensual and spiritual activity.”

She strives to create a lavish experience for her customers.

Attention to detail and learning from others for continuous

improvement is how she does it. She treats every party she

caters to as her own. She proudly says, “I taste every sauce,

every dressing. Nothing leaves the kitchen without my

approval.”

Kiran is supported by husband Shiv and daughter Puja.

The mother-daughter pair reminds me of the Double Mint

commercial, two look-alike lovely ladies doing their thing

in perfect harmony.

What’s next for Kiran? Achieving a Michelin star rating

is her avowed goal. With her determination, drive, and

dedication, we have no doubt this dream will become a

reality.

Photo By | Chuck Cook

25


FOOD

A Roma in Houston

Photos & Story By Sandeep Khandelwal

There are few cuisines as universally loved as

Italian. It comes in a multitude of variations

based around a few simple ingredients, and

appeals to carnivores and vegetarians alike. As

in any country, there are regional variations that have a

distinguish style. The new Roma Italian Trattoria focuses

on the northern Italian region, a departure from the owners

former successful restaurant in the same location, Sud

Italia, a southern Italian experience.

Owner Shanon Scott wanted to change the menu, and

name, to reflect the tastes and traditions of Rome, Milan,

and the Tuscany region. “I wanted to create a casual Italian

dining experience for Houstonians,” says Shanon, “and

the natural inspiration for that was Rome’s wonderful

trattorias.” The name of the restaurant was inspired from

the capital city of Rome, which is pronounced as “ROHmah”

in Italian.

LCAHouston was invited to sample the new menu and see

the newly renovated bungalow in Rice Village, inspired by

Shanon and his wife Wende’s travels to Italy, especially their

fond memories of dining in Rome’s renowned trattorias.

The restaurant serves a new menu featuring the trinity of

iconic Roman pastas: carbonara, cacio e pepe (prepared

table side), and amatriciana. Other Roman classics like

saltimbocca and griddle-fired are complemented by pan-

Italian favorites, like cotoletta alla milanese, osso buco,

and pasta alla norma. Roman-style deep-dish pizza,

with rotating traditional and creative toppings is also

available making the menu more approachable for diverse

Houstonians.

“We’ve created a menu centered around the Roman classics

like the spaghetti trinity — carbonara, amatricana, and

cacio e pepe — and deep-dish pizza, which most people

think comes from Sicily but actually comes from the

Eternal City.”

Our favorite dish by far was the octopus. We’ve sampled

this delicacy around the world, but the sous-vide technique

employed by Roma makes this the absolute best we’ve ever

had. The slow immersive cooking allows for the infusion

of flavor without making the octopus tough. Another

wonderful dish we tried was the ravioli infused with

truffle. Very aromatic and delicious. The portion sizes will

definitely appeal to Texans who demand more bang for

their buck. We had our eye on the Milanese osso buco and

the Venetian seafood risottos, but it was hard enough to

finish what we had ordered. A good reason to visit Roma

again, and soon!

26

LCAHouston.com 2019


CIN CIN HTOWN!

LCAHouston pours a glass of red

and sits with Thorleif Egeli, owner of

Vintures Wine Experiences, about his

burgeoning wine distribution business

in Texas.

LCA: What got you into the wine

business?

TE: I have always had an interest for

wine since I drove through the beautiful

Mosel Valley when I was 18 years old.

Since then, I have been drinking wines

and visiting wine regions all over the

world from Argentina to Italy, Spain,

France and California. In Napa I met

the amazing wine maker Steve Reynolds

from Reynolds Family Winery and asked

if he would be willing to make wine with

me for my private label. I dipped my toe

in the wine business by making 50 cases

per year, and eventually built up my

distributorship in Texas.

LCA: What makes your wines special and

how do they stand out from other brands?

TE: Our wines are selected for their great

value proposition for our customers at

Story Input By Shruti Chakraborty

2019 LCAHouston.com

any price-point. We represent mostly

family owned wineries who are quality

focused and are immersed in the wine

making process, hand crafting stand out

wines that are critically and customer

acclaimed

We have a unique portfolio of quality

wines that please wine collectors, while

remaining approachable by all wine

lovers.

LCA: What cuisine pairs the best with

your wines?

TE: All cuisines! We have intentionally

grown our portfolio with a variety

of wines to not only appeal to our

audiences' individual preferences but

also to cater to the serious restaurants we

work with around Houston. We have a

Chenin Blanc that pairs incredibly with

oysters, a Pinot Noir that would merry

nicely with Asian flavors, and a Red

Blend that would be good with a burger

or 100-day aged steak. Honestly, across

our portfolio of wines we feel we could

make a complimentary pairing across

Photos Courtesy | Vintures Wine

all cuisines from around the world. This

means the incredible culinary scene in

Houston is a very fitting place for our

wine portfolio to enhance the dining

experiences.

LCA: What are your future plans for your

brand?

TE: Vintures continues to grow by

finding and bringing unique top quality

wines and winemakers to the Texas

market across the state. We want to

create memorable wine experiences

for all wine consumers through our

unique tastings, wine dinners and other

events. We believe that by focusing

and delivering on all our customers’

experiences, we will be able to build

a loyal customer base and grow the

company for years to come.

27


Congratulations to LCAHouston

International Mother’s Day Soirée

Honorees

Judy Nichols & Associates

judy@judynicholspr.com

www.judynicholspr.com

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The Plight of India’s Daughters

PROFILE

On March 31st, 2019, Daya hosted its annual gala

fundraiser evening to celebrate the strength

of South Asian survivors of domestic and

sexual violence.

To promote this mission

of collectively supporting

survivors to end the cycle of

violence in the community,

the organization hosted

a very powerful keynote

speaker, renowned Human

Rights Activist and

Filmmaker Leslee Udwin of

‘India's Daughter.’ She left

the audience simultaneously

agitated and inspired to end

this vicious cycle of abuse and

change the mindset of society.

“What amazed me while

working on the documentary

was that there was absolutely

no regret for committing such

a brutal rape,” says Udwin.

India's Daughter is a

documentary film as part of

the BBC's ongoing Storyville

series. The film is based on

the infamous and globally

condemned 2012 Delhi

gang rape and murder of

23-year-old physiotherapy

student Jyoti Singh. “I

interviewed each of those

seven accused of the brutal

rape and I thought I would

be angry at them or label

them as monsters, but sadly I

couldn’t. Society brainwashed

them into thinking that they

are boys and so nothing

they could do is wrong. So

I walked out believing that

they are illiterate and their

actions were in part a result

of that. But what shocked me

was that the literate advisors

Leslee Udwin

surround them were even

worse. Their lawyer actually said that the victim deserved

it. She is a woman and she shouldn’t have been out at night,”

shares Leslee.

2019 LCAHouston.com

She has, not only an incredible vision to

change the world, but also the courage

and strength to act on it. LCAHouston

International Society News Editor Ruchi

Mukherjee sat down with British filmmaker,

activist, and director of the documentary

‘India’s Daughter’, Leslee Udwin.

Leslee was voted by the New York Times as the 2nd

most Impactful Woman of 2015 (second only to Hillary

Clinton), and has been awarded the prestigious Swedish

Anna Lindh Human Rights

Prize, previously won by

Madeleine Albright. She

has also been named Safe’s

Global Hero of 2015, Global

Thinker by Foreign Policy, and

has won the Best Producer

Award for her groundbreaking

documentary “India’s

Daughter”.

As her first documentary

feature, and as her directorial

debut, it has not only been

critically acclaimed around

the globe, but has provoked a

global discussion about gender

equality and violation of the

rights of women and girls.

The film has gone on to spark

a global movement to end

violence against women and

girls.

“While making the

documentary, the perspective

and insights yielded by the

2½ year-long journey, led

me to create which calls for a

systemic change in education

to end the discriminatory

mind set and cycle of violence

across our country,” explains

Udwin.

Daya is a non profit

organization that serves South

Asian women, children, and

men in the Houston area

who have been the victims of

domestic violence or sexual

assault. More than 600 guests

gathered at the Sugar Land

Marriott raising over $330,000.

“The goal is to one day live in

a society where we no longer

need organizations like these,” Leslee beams with hope.

Photo By | Sandeep Khandelwal

29


LIFEBYTES

Making Changes

&

Taking Chances

Ekta Viiveck Verma and husband Viiveck Verma

Ekta Viiveck Verma unveils the idiosyncrasies of society with LCAHouston Editor

and International Correspondent Ruchi Mukherjee and ponders over friendships,

family upbringings, the education system and how at almost every level society

teaches us to simply tolerate abuse.

my life I have been told “adjust karo beta”

(just compromise) so many times over and

over again, that this statement fixed itself in

“All

my mind,” says Ekta Viiveck Verma, founder

of Invisible Scars, a support group for individuals facing

non-physical abuse, which aims to create a safe space for

victims of abuse while creating dialogue and breaking

social stigma.

Growing up, Ekta was witness to multiple instances of

verbal and domestic abuse. She was aghast by how these

instances were normalized by calling them conflicts. These

"conflicts" apparently seem to happen everywhere and the

abuser is never questioned or shamed. In fact, it is never

understood or accepted as abuse, whereas the victim is

always silenced, asked to compromise and to bear the cross

of an unhappy relationship all alone.

“Most often women are participants in this kind of abuse

to another woman, reinforcing the myth one woman

cannot tolerate another woman doing better. With a

lack of awareness, comes a lack of empathy and a lack of

understanding of the impact of such silent abuse,” she

shared. “As soon as we think of domestic abuse we picture

a man hitting a woman,” says Ekta. Domestic abuse is

identified by very narrow parameters. The understanding

that domestic abuse exists within all domestic relationships

is critical to her and creating a new focus on non-physical

domestic abuse, through her support group.

Being part of the support group helps members have each

other’s backs, and increases their support system all over

the world. "By helping yourself or helping someone else

who is suffering in silence", is their motto.

Changing the narrative around domestic abuse is absolutely

imperative for Ekta. She believes in focusing on the mental

health and well-being of women, and to create a supportive

ecosystem. She wants women to know that it is necessary

to set physical and emotional boundaries in relationships.

“Our online presence makes us reachable from all parts

of the world. We have been around for almost three years

and during that short time frame we have helped over 600

victims,” shares Verma.

Mother to two beautiful adopted daughters Ridheiy and

Mishkkaa, today Ekta is happily based in Hyderabad,

India with her husband Viiveck Verma, who is not only

supportive of her endeavors, but an active participant in

making a difference in the community to bring change

towards such issues. “It’s not only about changing the way

we look at abuse but at creating a safer environment for our

daughters, empowering them and making them mentally

strong,” concludes Ekta.

Ekta with her daughters

30

Photos Courtesy | Ekta Viiveck Verma

LCAHouston.com 2019


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Honorees

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LEGACY

The Soirée Saga

By Natalie Galerne

Photos By | Karrah Jordan Photography

Location | Asia Society Texas Center

32

LCAHouston.com 2019


2019 LCAHouston.com

33


Ruchi Mukherjee

As LCAHouston nears its 10th

anniversary, we stop and take

a moment to reflect on the

renowned publication’s past

and beginnings, appreciate its current

important role in our community, and

dream about its incandescent future

with founder and editor-in-chief Ruchi

Mukherjee. LCAHouston is more than

just a magazine; it’s a brand, it’s a catalyst

for change. It’s the International Mother’s

Day Soirée.

“I remember the first Mother’s Day

Soirée so well,” Ruchi Mukherjee

reminisces to me about the beginnings

of her now iconic extravaganza. It’s a

temperate Spring evening in Houston.

Ruchi, and her daughter, Aryika, are

promenading about Gitting’s Studios,

getting comfortable in their dresses. The

delightful pair are getting professional

mother-daughter photos taken for the

Neiman Marcus Window showcase. “At

the time, I wanted a small, chic event

to honor philanthropic, ethnic moms.

My real inspiration for the whole thing

is actually my own mother,” she says.

She is referring, of course, to the first

International Mothers Day Soirée that

took place in May of 2013. “I was writing

a Sunday column for The Statesman - a

137 year-old English daily newspaper

in Kolkata - and I decided to cover the

ethnic ‘it’ moms of Houston at the time.”

Needless to say, the column became a

huge success among the movers and

shakers of the Bayou City.

Ruchi recounts that, when the idea of the

International Mother’s Day Soirée came

to her, she had not a clue how to throw

a big event. “I’m a journalist. Give me a

story and I’ll do it. But an event? I had no

idea where to start.”

By the grace and kindness of dear friend

and artist Wade Wilson, whose Montrose

art gallery specialized in abstract art,

Mukherjee’s first event honoring diverse

and philanthropic moms of Houston

was able to happen. Wade had known

the journalist for many years and offered

up his gallery as the backdrop for her

first Soirée. “I picked 12 honorees

from every ethnic background. At the

time, other Houston society columns

and publications mainly catered to

mainstream society. I didn’t see much

representation of ethnicity at any of the

34

LCAHouston.com 2019


Event Co-Chairs: Toni Tate and Rekha Muddaraj

The Mother's Day Soirée is the

only event in Houston that honors

mothers from diverse backgrounds

and occupations, who also give

back to our community. It was

my honor to be nominated five

years ago and walk the runway

with my then 2-year old daughter.

The Soirée continues to grow

every year, and I believe it is a

reflection of the need for events

that highlight and honor Houston’s

great diversity. A woman's

accomplishments can often times

be overlooked, but this event

strives to recognize and celebrate

the wonderful mothers in our

community who truly "do it all."

Rekha Muddaraj:

KHOU Anchor

2019 Soirée Co-Chair

I’m honored to have been a part of the International Mothers

Day Soirée since its beginning. I have seen so many wonderful,

deserving mothers recognized for their contributions to Houston

and beyond, and I’ve made invaluable friendships along the way.

Every year I’m amazed at the accomplishments of the Honorees,

not just as professionals, but as mothers. They truly make me

proud to be a part of the Soirée and to be a woman in Houston.

Toni Tate: Philanthropist & 2019 Soirée Co-Chair

2019 LCAHouston.com

35


high-profile Best Dressed or Distinctive

Women events. The Soirée, in part,

helped bridge the gap between the ethnic

and mainstream community.” Honorees

and participants of the first Soirée

included names like Gabriela Dror, Jackie

Bailey, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Mandy

Kao, Shelena Lalji. All of the ladies did

phenomenal work for their communities.

The buzz of the first Soirée was, in fact,

so riveting that Neiman Marcus played

host for the publication’s subsequent

event. The venues kept getting bigger

and grander as attendance skyrocketed

year after year. It became increasingly

common to see Houston celebrities

supporting Ruchi’s publication and

attending her parties. What caught the

innovative journalist’s eye, however,

was not just the presence of splendid

socialites drinking her champagne.

Following the hum of the first couple

of International Mothers Day Soirées,

Houston slowly began incorporating

more ethnicity into their events and

society columns. “I started seeing so

many women who have been honorees

be contacted by other society columns

and influential people,” Ruchi states. “I

felt that it was definitely LCAHouston

that paved the way for diversity being

highlighted in Houston.”

I can’t help but be awe-struck at the sheer

truth of her words. The event has become

a household name - as have many of

her original supporters, honorees and

chairs. Toni and Howard Tate, Yolanda

Adams, Killian Hennessy, Dominique

Sachse, Dr. Sippi Khurana, Brigitte

and Bashar Kalai, Rania Mankarious,

Ping Sun, Rekha Muddaraj, and others

have become synonymous with what

it means to be a devoted Houstonian.

36

LCAHouston.com 2019


And, of course, these individuals are true

Houston gems by their own right, but I

doubt it’s coincidence that their impacts

are as far-reached and profound as the

revolutionary strides of LCAHouston.

“I strongly believe when you empower

a woman you empower the nation,” she

says.

This year’s International Mother’s Day

Soirée sold out in January. The event is

taking place for the third time in a row

at the Asia Society Texas Center which,

in addition to having a longstanding

relationship with LCAHouston, has

space just large enough for a diverse, yet

tight-knit, crowd. “I still have the vision

to keep it short and sweet. I want it to

be intimate. I don’t want it to feel like a

gala,” explains Ruchi. Long-time Soirée

supporters Rekha Muddaraj and Toni

Tate are chairing.

The desire for intimacy among her

friends and her patrons stems from

the journalist’s desire to place love

and friendships first. “I must tell you,

Natalie, that money can come and go

but friendships are forever. At the end

of the day, loyalty and friendship are

what matter most.” Sure, LCAHouston

is a glitzy, sleek publication, but what

sets it apart is its genuine dedication to

Houston’s women, philanthropy, and

international community.

We are nearing the end of our casual

tête-a-tête, but I must know what’s

in store for the brand’s bright future.

“I would love to eventually see

LCAHouston in different cities -

New York, Los Angeles, even Paris,”

says Ruchi. “I’ve experienced the

New York society scene, and

they’ve got absolutely nothing like

LCAHouston there to bridge the

gap between mainstream society

and the international set.”

Ruchi leaves me with one last bit

of insight to her creative mind.

“I believe in dreaming big but

taking baby steps,” she says.

And with an unmistakable

gleam in her eye and a faraway

look, “But Versailles

- that’s my biggest dream.

I want to take the event to

The Palace of Versailles.”

What I love about this City is its

diversity and sense of inclusion,

allowing opportunity to all. I’m

honored to be recognized by

LCAHouston at the 2019

International Mother’s

Day Soirée, as it celebrates

women who engage the

community with varied

interests, backgrounds,

and without regard to any

bias. It is the culmination

of a great community of

women working together to

create a better society, and

I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

Hallie Vanderhider:

2019 Showstopper

LEGACY

Hallie Vanderhider

2019 LCAHouston.com

37


SOCIETY

Guests exit the building for dinner in the tent at

Tiger Ball 2019 2

ASIA SOCIETY TEXAS CENTER

CELEBRATES ‘FABULOUS FORTY’

RAISING $1.418 MILLION AT ANNUAL

TIGER BALL

Lynn Wyatt 1

For over a decade, LCAHouston

International Society News

magazine has been proud to

have been covering the Asia

Society Texas Center since the inception

of it’s magnificent building. This year’s

annual Tiger Ball celebrated the 40th

Anniversary of Asia Society’s presence in

the Houston community. The event paid

special homage to the memory of the

late former First Lady Barbara Bush,

a Founding Member of the Asia Society.

Over 600 guests arrived to walk the

glamorous red carpet, and were greeted

by dancers from the Huaxing Arts

Group and Samskriti. Patrons shopped

a big board auction while enjoying hors

d’oeuvres including spicy minced quail

and tamarind chicken sate. The auction

items were spectacular and included a

wide array of selection ranging from

a limited edition Alexander McQueen

designer handbag to the opportunity to

throw the first pitch at an Astros game. A

very unique 73 pearl necklace honoring

the 73-year long marriage of Barbara

and George Bush, by Texas designer

Photos By | Jenny Antill 1 and Daniel Ortiz 2

38

Becky Hollands, was the highlight of the

auction.

The main attraction was, of course, the

amazing transformation of the Center’s

parking lot into the Chevron Gala

Pavilion, an enormous 1,700 square foot

fantasy-themed Asian wonderland. City

Kitchen served a wonderful Pan-Asian

dinner of curried apple and cauliflower

soup with poached shrimp and miso soy

glazed Chilean sea bass. Guests returned

to the main building for after-dinner

dancing and a desert selections that

included bananas flambéed with spiced

rum served with Pistachio ice cream and

Vietnamese coffee.

Phoebe and Bobby Tudor were

recognized for their contribution the

Asia Society. Co-chairs Michelle and

Hector Herrera and Y. Ping Sun and

David Leebron, as well as honorary

chairs The Honorable Hushang and

Shahla Ansary, Maria and Neil Bush,

and Molly and Jim Crownover helped

make the evening a success.

Making the gala evening special some of

the ardent supporters included Nancy

Allen, Muffet Blake & Bob Murray,

Laurie & Milton Boniuk, Kristy

& Chris Bradshaw, Divya & Chris

Brown, Leslie & Brad Bucher, Diane

& Mike Cannon, Anne & Albert Chao,

Monjula & Ravi Chidambaram, Julie &

John Cogan, Anne & Charles Duncan,

Chinhui Juhn & Eddie Allen, Diane

Lokey Farb, Lily & Charles Foster,

Rachel & Bud Frazier, Jo & Jim Furr,

Kathy & Glen Gondo, Kathy & Marty

Goossen, Marie & Vijay Goradia, David

Harvey, Vicki & Bob Harvey, Maynard

& Kathleen Holt, Nancy & Erik

Littlejohn, Sultana & Moez Mangalji,

Duyen & Marc Nguyen, Hong &

Dorion Ogle, Cabrina & Steven Owsley,

Alison & Chris Porter, Sylvia & Gordon

Quan, Leigh & Reggie Smith, Starlee

Sykes & Al Vickers, Stephanie & Frank

Tsuru, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mary

& Roger Wallace (founding chairman),

Brenda & Marc Watts, Margaret Alkek

Williams, and Lynn Wyatt. Also joining

were the members of the diplomatic

corps from Australia, China, France,

Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and TECO.

LCAHouston.com 2019


Tripp Carter, Nancy C. Allen, and Bonna Kol 1

Charles & Lily Foster 1 Alice Mao Brams, Duyen Nguyen, and Mandy Kao 1

Betty Gee, Gina Li, and Diana Sun 2

2019 LCAHouston.com

Divya & Chris Brown 1

Bobby & Phoebe Tudor, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and

Y. Ping Sun & David Leebron 2

39


SOCIETY

Best Dressed

Luncheon

Remembers Lester

Smith Raising

Record Breaking

$2.06 Million

2019 Best Dressed Honorees

While Houston was still

mourning the loss of

philanthropist Lester Smith,

the plans for the Best Dressed luncheon

remained intact raising significant funds

for a noble cause.

The 37th Annual Houston Chronicle

Best Dressed Luncheon & Neiman

Marcus Fashion Presentation benefiting

March of Dimes, raised more than

$2 million for the health of all moms and

babies. The event honored late Lester

Smith, who just recently passed away. A

long-time supporter of March of Dimes,

who along with his wife Sue Smith,

contributed a $1 million match to the

event.

Also, at the event, The Woman’s Hospital

of Texas, an HCA Houston Healthcare

affiliate, announced it will soon become

the nation’s first hospital with two March

of Dimes Neonatal Intensive Care

Unit (NICU) Family Support Program

coordinators. This program expansion

marks a critical step toward ensuring

every family with a critically ill or

premature baby in Houston’s most-active

NICU receives education, information

and comfort when needed most.

This year’s Best Dressed Honorees

Gina Bhatia, Kristy Bradshaw, Denise

Castillo-Rhodes, Valerie Dieterich,

Gayla Gardner, Heidi Smith, Kristina

Somerville, Stephanie Tsuru ,Vicki

West and Hall of Fame inductee Gracie

Cavnar certainly outdid themselves

along with the powerhouse the

event's underwriting chair Rosemary

Schatzman, a Hall of Famer herself.

Photos By | Priscilla Dickson Photography

40

Wes Gordon, Sue Smith

Kemah Blair-Flores, Jack Sweeney, Darcie Wells,

Stephen Brunelle, and Rosemary Schatzman

LCAHouston.com 2019


SOCIETY

Ars Lyrica Houston

Breaks Fundraising

Record at a Mid-

Winter Night’s

Dream Gala

Dr. Sippi Khurana, Ajay Khurana, Shaan, and Seva

2019 LCAHouston.com

Dr. Sippi Khurana

Stephanie von Stein and Dr. Mark A. Schusterman

A

Mid-Winter Night’s Dream

themed gala for Ars Lyrica

Houston surpassed its

previous fundraising record

this year. There were several surprises

in store for guests at this gala. Guests

were delighted by the artistry of the gala

honoree, Dr. Sippi Khurana with her

impromptu performance of a Vivaldi’s

violin concerto movement accompanied

by lute. The musical performance

continued with the evening’s spirited

program, including selections by Purcell

and Spanish Baroque composers that

featured Ars Lyrica artists mezzosoprano

Cecilia Duarte, lutenist Arash

Noori, and percussionist Jésus Pacheco,

with remarks by Artistic Director

Matthew Dirst.

Later guests were then swept away with

the biggest surprise of the evening as

gala chairs Stephanie von Stein and Dr.

Mark A. Schusterman, tied the knot.

Stephanie entered from the back of

ballroom in a white gown, and walked

down the aisle to Schubert’s Ave Maria.

The beautiful evening took place at

the modern luxury Hotel Alessandra

in downtown Houston. Gala proceeds

support Ars Lyrica’s biennial Baroque

opera productions, which began in Fall

2018 with Handel’s Agrippina at the

Hobby Center, a production that played

to rave reviews.

Spotted at the evening were: Ars Lyrica’s

Artistic Director Matthew Dirst and

Sixto Wagan, Executive Director Kinga

Ferguson, Beth Madison, Drs. Warren

and Rachel Ellsworth, Beth Wolf,

Tammy and Wayne Nguyen, David

Peck, Kristina and Paul Somerville,

Hallie Vanderhider, Jano and John

Kelley, Barbara van Postman,

Astley Blair, Darrin Davis & Mario

Gudmundsson, Dr. Ishwaria Subbiah,

Ajay Khurana, Diana Collins, Teresa

and William Reading, and Miya Shay

and Gene Wu.

Photos By | Wilson Parish

After party chair Amanda Kingston-Beetle and Executive

Director Kinga Ferguson

41


SOCIETY

2019 LCAHouston International Mothers' Day Honorees

Stephen Brunelle, VP General Manager of Neiman

Marcus, and Ruchi Mukherjee Host & Founder of

International Mother’s Day Soirée Reveal the 2019

Honorees at Neiman Marcus

On the eve of International

Women’s Day, March 7, 2019,

LCAHouston International

Society News Magazine along

with Neiman Marcus hosted the Honoree

Announcement Kick Off celebration for

the Annual International Mother’s Day

Soirée.

Host/Founder Ruchi Mukherjee started

her career as a journalist in India. The

Annual International Mother’s Day

Soirée is an inspiration from one of her

series of stories she had written for The

Statesman and The Times of India on the

Fabulous and Philanthropic Mothers of

Houston. “The mission behind this event

42

is to bridge the gap between the ethnic

and mainstream communities,“ explains

Ruchi. Each year, a dozen mothers of

various ethnicities and professions,

are honored to showcase diversity and

celebrate motherhood.

Stephen Brunelle, VP General Manager

of Neiman Marcus, presented the

bouquets by Lexis Florists, to the

mothers while the gala chairs, Rekha

Muddaraj (KHOU) and Toni Tate,

announced the 2019 honorees: Sadaf

Aslam, Liza Bailey, Tammy Gee Su,

Courtney Zubowski Hass, Samantha

Holsomback, Sheekha Sethi Khan,

Fadila Kibsgaard, Peta Gay Ledbetter,

Sofia Ojeda, Escarle Silva, Melissa

Wilson, and the 2019 showstopper,

Hallie Vanderhider.

“Each year LCAHouston has headlined

some fabulous showstoppers including

Yolanda Adams, Dominique Sachse,

and Y. Ping Sun. Hallie is simply

a beautiful asset to the Houston

community”, says Toni Tate. Ruchi wore

a Cesar Galindo outfit from his Spring

Collection, who’s diversity of color

mirrored the diversity of Houston. It has

also been a tradition for the honorees to

be in shades of pink.

Photos By | Sonya Abid

LCAHouston.com 2019


David Cook, Melissa Wilson

Stephen Brunelle

Milka Waterland, Aisha Jokhio, Mona Khan, Alice Mao, Dr. Sheekha Khan

Thorleif Egeli, Stacey Swift

Sadaf & Rehan Aslam, Miya Shay

2019 LCAHouston.com

Sherry Cauble, Pitsami Borm, Natalie Galerne

43


SOCIETY

Houston Children’s

Charity Gala raises

$1.9 Million and

a mesmerizing

performance by STYX

Along with the noble work the

Houston Children’s Charity

does, their events are also

known for some of the best

entertainment of the gala season. Last

year’s guests were enthralled by Pitbull,

and this year the highlight of the night

was a live performance by the awardwinning

band STYX.

With approximately 650 guests, the

Charity held its 22nd Annual Gala at

the stunning Post Oak Hotel in Uptown

Houston on Friday, February 15, 2019.

Honored were one of Houston’s most

philanthropic duos, Jana and Richard

Photos By | Michelle Watson, Catchlight Group

Alexander's Fine Portrait Design

Fant, for their continued generosity,

compassion, and devotion to support

children in need. In a surprise move,

Jana and Richard challenged charity’s

CEO Laura Ward to make a call

for ‘wheelchair van’ donations that

would each be matched by the Fant

Foundation. Within moments, 5 vans

were donated which were then matched

by Jana and Richard, making that a total

of 10 vans for the children of Houston!

When all was said and done, an

astounding $1.9 million had been added

to the coffers for the children.

Spotted at this fabulous evening were:

Laura & Dave Ward; Maria Moncada

Alaoui & Omar Alaoui; Veronica &

Tommy Kuranoff; Jana & Richard Fant;

Tony Buzbee; Rachel & Jeff Bagwell;

Emcee Gina Gaston; Amy & Gary

Becker; Underwriting Chairs Melissa

Juneau & Stephanie Fleck, Kristina &

Paul Somerville; Edna Meyer-Nelson;

John Johnson; Grant Guthrie; Trini

Mendenhall; Sue Smith; Bobby Nau;

Hallie Vanderhider; and Margaret

Alkek Williams.

Tommy Kuranoff, Veronica Kuranoff, Maria Moncada Aloui, Omar Aloui

Richard and Jana Fant

44

Dave Ward and Jeff Bagwell

Laura Ward and Derrick Shore

LCAHouston.com 2019


Adam Lippes 2019 Fall Collection 1

Adam Lippes and Elyse Lanier 1

SOCIETY

Bayou Bend Garden

Luncheon With Designer

Adam Lippes

There is no more gorgeous a Spring combination than

lunch at the Bayou Gardens alongside a glamorous

fashion show.

The fourth annual Bayou Bend Fashion Show & Luncheon

hosted approximately 160 guests at the timeless River Oaks

estate for a seated luncheon under a stunning garden

tent on the lawn, with fresh flowers such as vibrant roses,

hydrangeas, and ranunculus. While the guests enjoyed

lunch catered by City Kitchen under the gorgeous décor by

The Events Company/Richard Flowers they also witnessed

the highlight of the event, a runway show featuring the

Adam Lippes Fall 2019 collection. Precisely 42 looks were

showcased to an audience of Museum patrons and fashion

enthusiasts raising $307,000 for the Bayou Bend operating

budget. The Galleria/Simon Property Group was the

Principal Underwriter and Neiman Marcus served as the

Retail Partner for the event.

Amongst the fashionable guests were: Jennifer Harris;

Carol Linn; Kate Upton; Nancy Abendshein; Cherie

Flores; Lindsay Holstead; Adam Lippes; Martha Long;

Courtney Sarofim; Mona Sarofim; Rania Daniel; Kelli

Kickerillo; Elyse Lanier; Jennie Segal; Marcy Taub

Wessel; Rose Cullen; Anne Duncan; Jeanie Kilroy Wilson;

Michelle Foutch; Cabrina Owsley; Terry Smith; Eliza

Stedman; Laura Wheless; Polly Bowden; Ann Bookout;

Kathy Goosen; Cyvia Wolff; Bobbie Nau; Stephanie

Tsuru; and Phoebe Tudor.

Photos By | Jenny Antill 1, Wilson Parish 2

Photos By | Quy Tran

2019 LCAHouston.com

Whitney Crane, Kate Upton, and Courtney Sarofim 2

45


SOCIETY

Music in Motion at the VIRTUOSI OF HOUSTON

A Captivating Evening of Amazing Dance

More than 325 guests

attended Virtuosi of

Houston’s Annual Gala,

Music in Motion. The

event was held In the Grand Ballroom

of the new InterContinental Hotel –

Medical Center in late spring.

The evening was chaired by Patti Murphy

along with Honorary Chairmen Monzer

Hourani and Carmina Zamorano.

An Evening of World-Class Music

and Fine Cuisine spotlighted the arts

honoring Michelle Smith, Founder &

Executive Director, METdance, Jane

Weiner, Founder & Director Hope

Stone Dance and Stanton Welch, Artistic

Director of the Houston Ballet. White

Swan Pax de Duex was performed by

Artists from Houston Ballet II Academy;

Aheym was performed by METdance

and Barcarolle / Radio Ga Ga was

performed by Hope Stone Dancers with

the Houston Boychoir. All dancers were

accompanied by the Virtuosi of Houston

Orchestra under the direction by

Founding and Artistic Directors Franz

Krager and Andzrej Grabiec.

David & Dianna Voll celebrated their

50th Anniversary at the gala raising

more than $400,000, with numerous

out of town friends joining them. Other

guests attending included Elina Htun,

Ken Christie, Barbara Van Postman,

James & Shirley Dannenbaum, Tony

Bradfield & Kevin Black, Dr. Jorge &

April Salazar, Sean Buckley & Marisol

Quijano, Dale & Tommie Merriman,

Karen DeGeurin, Sara & James Parr,

Staci Voll, Bill King & Terri Alami.

Photos By | Fulton Davenport

Carmina Zamorano, daughters Macarena, Carmina & Natalia Chavez-Zamorano

Beth Muecke, Jaquel Charlesworth & Nicole O'Brian Lassiter

Peter Remington, Linda Lorelle, Michelle Smith (Honoree) & Patti Murphy

MET Dancers

46

LCAHouston.com 2019


SOCIETY

INAUGURAL KARYA

KARES FOUNDATION

GALA RAISES

$100,000

Lone Star Veterans Assoc donation from Karya Kares

Vivek Shah, Mayor Sylvestor Turner, Swapnil Agarwal

Ron Trevino, George Springer, Mayor Turner and wives Jim Mattress Mack Macingvale Honoree speaker

2019 LCAHouston.com

With a sold out attendance

of over a thousand guests,

Chairs Swapnil Agarwal

and Vivek Shah, along

with Co-chairs Deepika Agarwal and

Mohammed Nazimuddin, the Karya

Kares Foundation hosted its first

inaugural gala on Friday December 14th

at the Post Oak Hotel raising $100,000.

It was an exuberant crowd showcasing

the “who’s who” of the local community.

The event was graced by special guests

Bollywood actress and model Jinal

Pandya, and Indian athlete turned

actress Prachi Tehlan.

“The mission at Karya Kares

Foundation’s is to help enrich lives

of those less fortunate,” says Swapnil.

Whether it is through Free Water

Education classes for the youth at various

apartment complexes, or by handing out

over 5,000 clear back packs to children

to raise awareness for school safety, the

Karya Kares Foundation is committed

to improving communities in both the

Untied States and India.

Guests were enthralled by the presence of

local dignitaries and celebrities including

the Astro’s George Springer, Houston

Mayor Sylvester Turner, ABC 13’s

Pooja Lodhia, KHOU 11’s Ron Trevino,

Consulate General of India Anupam

Ray, Representative Pete Olson, Jim

‘Mattress Mack’ Macingvale, and Nick

Slaughter, US Army Veteran of the Lone

Star Veterans Association.

Photos Courtesy | Karya Property Management

47


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HAWC CEO Emilee Whitehurst with Sandra Salazar, Lance Loeffler, HPD Chief Art Acevedo, and

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina Inaugurates

Houston Women’s Area BELIEVE Luncheon

April was Sexual Assault

Awareness Month, and in its

proud recognition, the Houston

Area Women’s Center launched

its inaugural BELIEVE Luncheon

accommodating more than 500 guests on

Thursday, April 18th, 2019 at the Royal

Sonesta.

Public dialogue about sexual abuse and

sexual assault has reached a critical

moment. From celebrities, to the clergy,

in politics, and in the military, the stories

of survivors are being shared, and their

voices are being heard more than ever.

“Society has to start looking at things

differently,” says luncheon keynote

speaker Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

SOCIETY

“Hitting your child is abuse, people have

to understand that.” “And the term ‘Man

Up’ has to be explained. It means that the

man should stand up for the weak, for

injustice,” explains Rosemarie, the judge

who sentenced U.S. Gymnastics doctor

Larry Nassar to 175 years in prison for

sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts

under his care.

Co-chaired by Jessica Bertuccio and

Myrtle Jones, this signature event

raised $420,000. “It was heartwarming

to see so many community members

join the Houston Area Women's Center

for our Inaugural BELIEVE Luncheon

which showed survivors we can end

domestic and sexual violence,” says Chau

Luncheon speaker Judge Rosemarie Aquilina with HAWC’s Chief Marketing and Development

Officer Chau Nguyen

Luncheon Co-chairs Jessica Bertuccio and Myrtle Jones

“I am overjoyed that HAWC

Believed in me enough to alllow

me to chair this event alongside

the amazing Jessica Ludwig-

Bertuccio because it gave me a

chance to carry out my passion for

supporting women in a different

but very much needed capacity

than the space where I usually

operate as a mentor and sponsor

of professional women in the

workplace,” says Myrtle Jones.

Nguyen, HAWC Chief marketing and

development officer.

This luncheon also celebrated and

recognized Community Honoree Sandra

Ramirez Salazar, PNC Bank Managing

Director, Energy Division, Community

Partner Honoree Art Acevedo, Houston

Police Chief, and Corporate Honoree

Halliburton for their important

contributions in supporting survivors.

Photos By | Quy Tran

Jennifer Grigsby, Debbie Festari and Marla Hurley

2019 LCAHouston.com

49


7 TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL

Mothers’ Day

Soirée

LCAHouston's Annual International Mothers' Day Soirée received a proclamation from the

Mayor's office in 2015 recognizing it as the one of the most important events of the year that bridges

the gap between the mainstream community and the affluent international society in Houston.

LCAHouston & Asia Society Texas Center host an evening celebrating diversity as they honor mothers from

various ethnic backgrounds at the annual Mother's Day event. The following pages feature the 2019 honorees.

Location | Asia Society Texas Center

1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004

Host/Founder | Ruchi Mukherjee

Friday, May 17, 2019

6:30 - 9:00 pm

Co-Chair | Rekha Muddaraj

Founder and editor of LCAHouston International Society News

Magazine and the curator of the International Mothers' Day

Soirée Awards event that aims to highlight mothers from various

ethnic backgrounds.

Ruchi is a recipient of the Houston Business Journal 40 Under 40

award. She is also a media celebrity model for The Star of Hope

luncheon. Ruchi has received the Citizenship Award from the

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for her excellence in media.

Ruchi is also a UH Table Talk Conversationalist.

She is a seasoned international journalist who started her career

at the Times of India in Kolkata covering major crimes stories in

notorious red light districts to the NASA space shuttle tragedy.

Her publication, LCAHouston, is a global platform to highlight

Houston's diversity.

Rekha joined the KHOU 11 News team as a general assignment

reporter for many years before finally moving to the anchor

desk full time. Today she is the station’s weekday 4pm Anchor

and covers a variety of stories including major trials, devastating

floods and medical breakthroughs.

Rekha came from San Diego, where she won an Emmy for her

reports during the devastating 2007 wildfires. She is a proud

graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona

State University and holds degrees in both broadcasting and

political science.

When she is not working, Rekha is running after her two little

girls and checking out the city’s great restaurants with her

husband, Dr. Neil Badlani.

Co-Emcee | Dr. Sippi Khurana

Philanthropist & Physician

Co-Emcee | Justin Stapleton

Meteorologist KPRC 2

2019 LCAHouston.com

Co-Chair | Toni Tate

Toni is a philanthropist and mother to two wonderful stepdaughters,

20-year-old Hannah who will be a junior at

Vanderbilt in the fall, and 17-year-old Grace who attends

St. Agnes Academy.

She and her husband Howard Tate have been instrumental

in support of the International Mothers' Day Soirée since its

inception. They support many causes in Houston, and Toni is

a staunch believer in the empowerment of women. She is also

involved with Helping a Hero, the Houston Humane Society,

Brittmoore Rescue, and KnowAutism. Toni was nominated as

a candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man &

Woman of the Year Award in 2011.

51


Sadaf Aslam

Sadaf Aslam moved from Chicago to Houston

four years ago with her husband Rehan Aslam

of ABC 13, and six year-old son Rafae. She has

a Masters of Science in Accounting and has

worked for several major firms.

While in Chicago, Sadaf sat on the Luminary Circle

for Step Up Women, empowering underprivileged

youth to become more confident, college bound, and

career oriented. Sadaf is very passionate about serving

the community. Sadaf and her husband contribute

to various different charities including Kids Meals

Houston, YWCA, and The Women's Resource Center

of Houston.

Liza Bailey

Photo By | Quy Tran

Liza Bailey is the Operations Manager at

Houston Methodist Hospital. She is the

proud mother of two young autistic boys, and

along with her husband Marcus, founded the

Perfect Connection organization which is dedicated

to providing autism awareness through community

education, advocacy, and outreach projects.

She is also an advocate of diversity and has

instigated training and professional development

programs which support diversity and inclusion

competencies of all Methodist Sugar Land Neurology

Associates employees. As an entrepreneur, she runs

a members-only styling service, and despite all the

work commitments, she finds time to impact her

community.

52

Photo By | Biyani Photography

LCAHouston.com 2019


Courtney Zubowski Hass

Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist

Courtney Zubowski Haas has traveled the

country chasing stories. The award winning

journalist started her career in Beaumont,

Texas where she reported and anchored the news.

She’s been working as a national correspondent with

CBS News since August of 2017, when Hurricane

Harvey devastated Houston

Courtney serves on the board of Crime Stoppers of

Houston and Beth Yeshurun Day School. She also

volunteers with several non-profits, helping them

maximize their marketing potential with a focus on

social media. She lives in Houston with her husband,

Eric. Together they have five children.

Photo By | Biyani Photography

Samantha Holsomback

Samantha Holsomback is the owner of All

Things Love-Event Planning, a leading event

planning firm in Houston, Tx. She is a veteran

creator and manager for event logistics.

Samantha is a published author of an anthology

entitled ‘YOU CAN.’

Samantha is a married mother of two children and

takes delight in reading novels, traveling, cycling, and

enjoying adventures such as swimming with sharks in

the Bahamas with her husband, and ziplining through

the jungle of Jamaica with her children.

Photo By | Biyani Photography

2019 LCAHouston.com

53


Dr. Sheekha Sethi Khan

Dr. Sheekha Sethi is a therapeutic

optometrist specializing in comprehensive

eye health examinations, eyeglasses and

contact lens fittings, dry eye treatment,

and co-management of laser vision correction and

cataracts. She received her Doctor of Optometry

degree from the New England College of Optometry

in Boston, MA.

Her passion for fashion is fulfilled by the retail

aspect of owning her own practice and having the

opportunity to travel to places like Milan to hand pick

the highest quality in eyewear for her patients. When

she’s away from the office, Dr. Sethi enjoys spending

time with her husband and baby girl as they explore

Houston.

Fadila Kibsgaard

Photo Courtesy | Dr. Sheekha Sethi

As a child in Algeria, Fadila witnessed

first-hand the injustices against people

belonging to marginalized communities,

and became devoted to giving back. In

her role as Ambassador for Nomad Two Worlds

Foundation, Fadila is committed to developing

and expanding the Foundation globally through

teamwork and community engagement.

She supports BICONA Foundation which assists

native American Indians living under horrid

conditions on many reservations, and is a Founding

Member of the Translational Research Initiative at

the Houston Methodist Research Institute. Fadila is

also a member of the Houston Methodist President's

Leadership Council and DeBakey Heart & Vascular

Center Council.

Fadila graduated medical school in 1999, and worked

as a family doctor. She moved to the US and married

Pal Kibsgaard in 2004. The couple had twin girls in

2008.

54

Photo Courtesy | Fadila Kibsgaard

LCAHouston.com 2019


HOT AND HAPPENING

Dr. Peta Gay Ledbetter

Peta holds dual PhDs in Educational

Psychology and Individual Differences,

a Masters in Education in Counseling, a

Bachelors in Psychology, and a Degree in

Nursing. She is the Director of Clinical Services at

the Alliance Wellness Center, an Associate Adjunct

Professor at the University of Houston, and maintains

a small private practice.

She has increased awareness of sexual assault and

human trafficking internationally as title holder

of Mrs. Pearland International 2015, Mrs. Jamaica

United Nations 2016 and Mrs. United Nations

2016-17. Peta was crowned Mrs. Classic Universal

2018. She is married to Chris Ledbetter and has a

stepdaughter, Hannah and a son, John.

Photo By | Biyani Photography

Sofia Ojeda

Sofia Ojeda is the Weekend Morning News

Anchor for KPRC Channel 2 News. She is also

an award-winning journalist. Most recently she

won an Emmy for her breaking news coverage

during Hurricane Harvey.

Sofia was born in Lima, Peru and moved to U.S. when

she was a little girl. She grew up in New Jersey and

later graduated from The College of New Jersey with

a degree in Communications. Sofia played basketball

in college and still loves an occasional pick-up game.

Sofia is married with 2 daughters. She loves animals,

coffee, and the beach!

Photo By | Biyani Photography

2019 LCAHouston.com

55


Escarle Silva

A

native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Escarle

Silva moved to Houston in 1997 to achieve

her dream to study and graduate from the

University of Houston. She started her

professional career in Jakarta, Indonesia, interning for

Schlumberger. After living in Asia, Africa, and Europe

and having two children, she returned to Houston.

She combined her management and beauty skills to

open Alira Boutique Spa & Salon with extraordinary

customer service in mind. Escarle is also an active

marathon runner and participate in various

marathons around the world. She is a passionate

advocate for breast care awareness.

Tammy Gee Su

Photo By | Biyani Photography

Tammy Gee Su is the director and

choreographer for the Miss Chinatown

Houston Pageant. She is a former pageant

title holder, Texans cheerleader, and

Houston Rockets Power Dancer.

She uses her experience to mentor young women

and help to empower them with the confidence and

positive self esteem needed to be their best selves. She

is a proud mother of three children, Colin, Skylar and

Piper.

56

Photo By | Biyani Photography

LCAHouston.com 2019


Hallie Vanderhider

As a single mother for twenty-five years,

Hallie Vanderhider has enjoyed watching

her son, Michael, mature into an amazing

and talented young man, and considers

him her greatest accomplishment in life.

Currntly a Managing Director with Private Equity

Firm SFC Energy Partners, she began her career

in public accounting after receiving a B.B.A. in

Accounting from UT Austin. Hallie has had a 40 year

career, having run a $4 Billion oil & gas company to

starting her own merchant banking firm.

She co-chaired the 2016 Memorial Hermann Razzle

Dazzle Luncheon and served as the 2017 Honoree.

Other honors include Woman of Distinction,

Outstanding Woman in Finance, Hall of Fame

honoree of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber

of Commerce, a member of the Women’s Energy

Network, and as Texas Executive Woman of the Year.

She is a Trustee of the Houston Ballet and Chaired the

2018 Ball.

Photo By | Biyani Photography

Melissa Wilson

Emmy Award-winning Melissa Wilson is an

anchor for FOX 26 Morning News weekdays.

She is also the medical reporter for FOX 26.

HoustonWoman Magazine named Melissa

one of the "Top 50 Most Influential Women in

Houston". American Women in Radio and Television

nominated Melissa for "Personality of the Year". She

has been honored with the prestigious "Gracie Award"

and Lone Star Emmy Awards.

Melissa has been an Honorary Co-Chair for the

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure since 2000. She

also serves on their Advisory Board of Directors. She

has served, on the Boards of Directors for several

organizations including Children at Risk, Lazarus

House, March of Dimes, United Way, "Gifts with

Heart", and Baylor Business Network.

Melissa is the mother of two boys. She adores

spending time with them!

Photo By | Sonya Abid

2019 LCAHouston.com

57


Mothers’ Day

Soirée

Special Thanks To

ELITE SPONSORS

Toni & Howard Tate

Swapnil Agarwal Nitya Capital

Hallie Vanderhider

Dr. Sippi & Ajay Khurana

Northwest Mutual, Wealth Management Company

Fadila Kibsgaard

Lassiter Law Firm

Rob Todd, Amplified Solutions

Brigitte and Bashar Kalai

HOST COMMITTEE

Rekha and Dr. Neil Badlani

Tammy Tran Nguyen

Saira Rizvi

Shawntell McWilliams

Mona Khan

Milka Waterland and Aida Holguin

Alice Mao

Travis Torrence

Teresa Reading

Kanchan and Bikram Singh

Betty Gee

Sharan Gahunia

HOST SPONSOR

Asia Society Texas Center

EVENT PLANNING & ENTERTAINMENT

Pitsami Norm, P.S. Affairs

Tianna Hall & The Houston Jazz Band

Gittings

Karrah Photography

Sue Habib of Lexis Florist

FOOD & BEVERAGE SPONSORS

Thorleif Egeli, Vintures Owner

LaShan Arceneaux

Dr. Vanitha Pothuri, Popbar Ice Cream

Claudia Ginn Echeverria, Ginn's Gourmet

Raja Sweets

OUR MEDIA SUPPORTERS

KPRC Channel 2

ABC 13

FOX 26

CultureMap

Papercity

58

LCAHouston.com 2019


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