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How Houston Philanthropist Franci Neely Inspires Others

Lawyer, philanthropist, and world traveler are just a few ways to describe Franci Neely. The graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law is never one to sit idle.

Now a retired lawyer after spending 20 years as a practicing attorney, she is head of the Franci Neely Foundation and a successful philanthropist. She is also on the board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and other noteworthy organizations.

Neely credits her law partner with giving her the best advice that has contributed to her success: 1) Do not procrastinate, an 2) Aim for a high-quality work product, but do not “await perfection.”

Franci Neely World Traveler

Franci Neely is well on her way to reaching her goal of visiting every country in the world. So far, she has been to more than 180 countries.

COVID-19’s travel restrictions set her back about two years, putting a halt to her travel plans, but she is ready now to pack her bags and get going. She expects to reach her target in the next two years.

When asked, “What was your favorite trip?” She responds, “the one I just took.”

She doesn’t just visit, though. She immerses herself in the culture. She shops in local stores, buys local fashions, and eats the local cuisine.

She develops friendships and becomes pen pals with people she has met along the way. She says the relationships she has developed are her greatest reward.

Neely’s advice to young people is to travel as much as possible. Learning about the world and the differences and similarities of cultures is the best education.

Neely speaks French and Italian and her dream is to someday live in Italy and become more fluent in the language.

Franci Neely Philanthropist

Neely believes that we all have a moral obligation to “give back.” She takes this to heart in her own life. She believes that, of course, money cannot buy you love, but it can give you the ability to help others improve their lives.

In addition to her own philanthropic foundation, she is also involved with a Houston-based literary arts group, Imprint, which encourages writers, promotes reading, and offers community programs for all age groups.

She is always active and founded or is chair of many programs for the arts including:

  • Co-founder of the Houston Cinema Arts Society which focuses on bringing diversity to the Houston arts community.
  • Co-chair of the Art of the Islamic Worlds, a subcommittee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
  • Chaired many Houston non-profit galas, one of which was the Baker Institutes’ 25th Anniversary Gala where President Barack Obama was a guest speaker.

As for her philanthropic works is concerned, one of her favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Grandmother to five and godmother to eight, family, and her close network of friends are Neely’s true treasures.

Franci Neely’s goal is to have her epitaph read, “She wanted to give back to society.”

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