This Week in Houston’s Buzz: The 2017 Houston Symphony Ball: Stir It Up in Vegas and More!

The 2017 Houston Symphony Ball: Stir It Up in Vegas

                                                         Astley and Alex Blair

The Houston Symphony, along with Christina and Mark Hanson (Ball Chairs), presented the 2017 Houston Symphony Ball: Stir It Up in Vegas that featured entertainment by Las Vegas Showman Frankie Moreno the Jordan Kahn Orchestra on Friday, May 12, 2017, at Marriott Marquis Houston in Downtown Houston. This presentation honored the following:

Ima Hogg Philanthrophy Award – Jane and Robert Cizik

Mike Stude Award for Enduring Artistic Vision –Janice H. Barrow, Barbara and Pat McCelvey and Family

Raphael Fliegel Award for Visionary Leadership – Awarded jointly to Barbara J. Burger and Mr. and Mrs. Alexander K. McLanahan

Special honoree – Richard Flowers/The Events Company

Maurice Hirsch Corporate Citizenship Award – Vinson & Elkins, LLP

The Stewart Orton Golden Baton Award – Margaret Alkek Williams

The Houston Symphony raised over $1.6 million for the Symphony’s Education and Community Programming and honored an esteemed group of individual leaders who demonstrated their love of music into leadership support. The presentation was outstanding and the proceeds from the Ball benefit the Symphony’s education and community programming. The public’s support of the Ball helps to ensure that the Symphony can continue to provide free performances for children and families, lifelong learning opportunities for adults and professional development for teachers. For more information about the Houston Symphony visit their website at Photo credits: The Houston Symphony

                                                  Clara and Emeka Oyolu

                                   Beth Wolff, Shamika and Melvin Johnson

Achievement Through Leadership Foundation Scholarship Dinner

                                             Rose George and Georgia Provost

On Sunday, May 21, 2017, at Maggiano’s Restaurant at 6:00 p.m. The Achievement Through Leadership Foundation presented its 2017 Scholarship Dinner. The mission of ATLF is Empowering Today’s Scholars to Become Tomorrow’s Leaders and is committed to supporting the personal evolution of youth in the greater Houston area as they pursue higher education and leadership development. The guest speaker was Dr. Yvette Pearson Weatherton who has more than 20 years of experience in engineering education. Dr. Weatherton inspired students to plan, prepare, and persevere. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas State Rep. Ron Reynolds honored ATLF Board Member Cindy George for her leadership. For more information visit their website at Congratulations to all of the 2017 ATLF Scholarship Recipients!

2017 Achievement Scholarship Presentations

ATLF High School Scholarships │Emily O’Neil │Phillip Prater │ Genesis Smothers

Kim Elzy Randolph Scholarship for Family & Consumer Science Majors │ Raven Huery

Dr. Justin & Hiji Washington Scholarship │ Tori Livingston

J. Mack Architects Scholarship │ Maya Smith

Galloway Law Firm Scholarship │ Blake McAdoo

Sherman Rideaux Scholarship │ Markayla Eakins

Falicia Hunt Boutte Memorial Book Scholarship │Erin Haven

Reginald Randolph Scholarship for High School Graduating Seniors │Colen Joseph James

The Moore Family Scholarship │Carrington Matthews

MCSLA Kappa Alpha Psi │Marcus Bell

The Navarre Family Scholarship │Courtlyn Boxie

Ken & Cheryl Glover Scholarship for Accounting Majors │Natasha Malone

Achievement Through Leadership Foundation Board Member Cindy George and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

Texas State Rep. Ron Reynolds with Hiji Washington and Dr. Justin Washington

Exclusive Interviews with Priti Patkar, Co-Founder of Prerana & Sofia Ivanka, Founder of Building Smart Kids

                                                Priti Patkar and Sofia Ivanka

Priti Patkar – Co-founder Prerana Interview

What brings you to Houston?

Priti Patkar explains that she is an Indian social worker & human rights activist who is the co-founder and director of an organization improving the lives of others called Prerana which means inspiration. Prerana has done pioneering work in the red-light districts of Mumbai, India to protect children that are vulnerable to commercial human sex trafficking.

What do you hope to accomplish during your Houston trip?

Patkar comes to Houston to form a partnership with Building Smart Kids. Building Smart Kids will offer services to help tutor kids that have the inability to pick up English. English is a global language, Patkar says and the people of Mumbai will definitely benefit from learning English. This partnership will prepare young people for college. For more information visit our website at

Who is your hero?


Sofia Ivanka – Founder of Building Smart Kids Interview

What is Building Smart Kids?

Building Smart Kids is a program that tutors kids.

What makes your tutoring style different from the others?

We offer Montessori style so that all students can learn at their own pace, and can connect the dots with understanding. We often meet the teachers to make sure students’ needs are being met and have a low student-to-teacher ratio for all grade levels. Ivanka says that the STAAR test is a standardized test that does not work. We are here to help the students.

What is Building Smart Kids’ motto?

Our motto is smart kids are built, not born.

Who benefits from your program?

Underprivileged children in at-risk areas. For more information on Building Smart Kids visit our website at Building Smart Kids recently held a Re-Building India VIP event that took place on Monday, May 22nd at 12:00 PM at Coronado Club, 919 Milam St, Houston, TX.