Houston philanthropist Franci Neely, in brief.

Home: Houston, New York City, Nantucket. Age: Less than 100. Birthplace: Dallas. Organization: Franci Neely Foundation. Title: President. Significant other: My Pomeranian dog, Milo. Alma mater: The University of Texas at Austin.

Current project: Invigorating and inspiring the film community in Houston and Texas. Recent recognition: Having a young man declare me his “angel” for making a contribution that helped his mother get medical care. Latest contribution to others: A challenge grant to the Houston Cinema Arts Society that was rapidly matched. Hobbies: Reading and tennis. Recent travel or adventure: Dancing with Bamileke women in the Grassfield kingdoms of Cameroon. Last book read: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Recently viewed and recommended: A YouTube video of a beagle named Seven befriending an injured sloth. Recent unique acquisition: A photograph of a girl named Usha by Dawoud Bey.

Personality profile: Creative, playful, independent, leader. What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Passionate. Moral compass: My friend Andrea, who epitomizes kindness and tolerance. How do you define a perfect friendship? Frank and forgiving. What is your greatest joy? Travel. What is your greatest fear? Normalizing liars and lying. What is your guilty pleasure? Murder mysteries and chili con queso. What natural talent have you neglected? My abilities as a photographer. What is your favorite place/way to spend money? On my photography collection called “Womankind” and in helping others philanthropically. What is at the top of your bucket list? Visiting every country in the world. How do you relieve stress? Reading. What is your go-to workout? Interval training. What ingredient is essential to your perfect vacation? Sampling the local cuisine.

What was your first paying job? Salesperson at a shoe store. What was your favorite college course? Oral Interpretation of Literature. What was your favorite childhood toy or game? Playing paper dolls with my sister. What book have you repeatedly read? The Warden, by Anthony Trollope. What movie have you repeatedly watched? My Cousin Vinny. What’s prominently featured on your home or office wall? My photography collection called “Womankind.” Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? My former law partner, Steve Susman. What’s the best advice you received growing up? The universe doesn’t revolve around you/me. What’s the best advice you received in your career? Don’t await perfection. Nothing is. What is your favorite app? Been. What is your go-to source of news and information? MSNBC. What is your go-to source of creative inspiration? My friend, the opera composer Jake Heggie. What company or organization do you most admire? Peace Corps; Doctors Without Borders. What world event has had the greatest influence on your life? 9/11.

What change would you like to see in the world?

A worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.


What message do you want to send out into the world? Focus on the good in people. Don’t believe everything you hear through social media channels. What widely held belief do you reject? That humans are not responsible for climate change. What mega-trend most concerns you? Disseminating incendiary information through social media channels.

What title would you choose for the movie about your life? Around the World in 70 Years. What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life? Meryl Streep. Who would you like to spend an evening with in heaven? Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As a kid, what did you first want to be when you grew up? A private detective (Nancy Drew). After your loved ones, what object would you first save from your burning home? The haiku my son Trey wrote when he was about 7 years old. How would you choose to spend tomorrow if you knew it was your last day on Earth? In a field of bluebonnets in Texas with my mother, children, grandchildren, and godchildren, eating fried chicken. What advice would you give your younger self? Don't sweat the small stuff. What period in your life would you do differently if you could? My 30s, when I mooned over a man incapable of commitment.

Personal mission: To visit and really experience every country in the world. Personal motto: Make every day better for someone other than myself. Desired epitaph: Fiery Franci the Fearless, may she finally rest in peace.

Full interview: https://www.principalpost.com/in-brief/franci-neely