Second Annual Leading Houston Forward Luncheon

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On Thursday, October 11, 2018, YES Prep honored accomplished corporate leader Janet Clark at the second annual Leading Houston Forward luncheon co-chaired by Madeline and Drew Masterson and Ann and Richard Vaughan at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

More than 300 guests attended the event and raised raised an incredible $870,000 funds to support YES Prep’s 18 campuses across Houston which serve over 13,300 students in grades 6-12.

The Vision

YES Prep was founded in 1998 with the vision that every child in Houston receives equitable access to a public school that delivers an excellent, college-ready education.  Event Co-Chair and YES Prep Board member Ann Vaughan said, “We support YES Prep because its students are earning college degrees at five times the rates of their peers with similar economic backgrounds. Led by CEO Mark DiBella through sound leadership and a committed faculty, YES Prep is having a remarkable impact that spreads wider each year as they strive to increase the number of students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead.”

Veteran educator DiBella served as faculty and administrator while working alongside event honoree Janet Clark who served on the YES Prep Board from 2004 through 2016 and currently leads the YES Prep Board of Trustee as founding chair.

Inaugural Chris Barbic Legacy Award

Named after YES Prep founder, the very first Chris Barbic Legacy Award was presented to longtime supporter and current chair of the Board of Trustees Janet Clark.

Clark is a leader in the Houston Energy Community, having served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Marathon Oil and Director of EOG Resources. DiBella said, “Janet Clark’s tireless efforts to support underserved students are an inspiration to us all.  Janet embraces the fundamental belief that we hold at YES Prep that genius is equitably distributed in our city even though opportunity and access are not yet. Janet believes as I do that equitable access to educational excellence should be but is not yet the right of every child in a truly free society, and she is committed to working tirelessly until it is so.”

Captivating Keynote Address

Guests at the luncheon enjoyed a captivating keynote address from president of Prairie View A&M University, Ruth J. Simmons.  Simmons shared her compelling life story while addressing the collaborative need to eliminate educational inequities to advance social justice.  YES Prep has two graduates and 25 alumni attending Prairie View A&M University.

Simmons became the first African-American woman to head a major college or university when she was appointed president of Smith College and the first African-American president of an Ivy League Institution when she served as the president of Brown University.

Mark DiBella closed the event with stirring remarks sharing, “YES Prep is leading the nation on college completion rates, more than quintupling the national average for children from similar demographics. Yet we won’t be satisfied until at least 80% of our alumni go on to graduate from college—reflecting the national average for children from the highest economic quartile and proving what’s possible when our brilliant students are given the access they deserve.”

Luminaries’ Dinner  CEO Mark DiBella and Dr. Juan Sanchez Munoz

The evening prior to the luncheon, top donors were invited to a private Luminaries’ Dinner at the home of Honorary Chairs, Eliza and Stuart Stedman, featuring University of Houston-Downtown President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz.

Dr. Muñoz and DiBella engaged attendees with a fireside style chat as they discussed current educational inequities and the increasing demand for an educated workforce in Houston to ensure the continued vitality and success of our city.

Dr. Muñoz arrived at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) in 2017 from Texas Tech University where he served as a Senior Vice President and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs. Currently, 588 YES Prep alumni are attending UHD and 33 have graduated.

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