Franci Neely has a wide collection of hats from all over the world, but she has worn many other figurative hats in her career. After spending roughly 20 years as a lawyer, the retired Susman Godfrey LLP partner recounts that she was given some of the most valuable career advice from her law partner, Steve Susman. Neely says that his counsel was to “not put things off for later” and to strive for excellence without getting stuck on perfection.
Neely has had this perspective her entire life, which is why she currently is the leader of the Franci Neely Foundation and a committed philanthropist on the board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Moody Center for the Arts, and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
For Franci Neely, Avoiding Tasks is Not an Option
Neely is working towards her goal of visiting every country on the globe and has already been to more than 180. Her most recent trip was to Africa and, like many travelers, COVID-19 hindered her progress. However, she still hopes to complete her tour of all nations within the next two years. When asked what her favorite journey has been, Franci Neely responds, “I say the one I just had.”
Perseverance is a priority for Neely when it comes to her travels. She’s always prepared for the next voyage and always has her camera in tow to document the memories made on the journey.
She has experience in French and Italian and admits that it is her ambition to one day relocate to Italy so she can become more adept at speaking the language.
Franci Neely, who is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, always encourages people to travel more, particularly younger individuals. According to her, “Traveling is the best form of education. Approach it with an open-minded attitude; discovering the world and recognizing diverse cultures can’t be beaten as a learning experience.”
Exploring the planet, she has been exposed to the diversity of cultures and enjoys sampling new cuisines and picking up local styles at nearby stores. She always makes sure she packs an extra empty bag so she can take home some extraordinary souvenirs, enabling her to soak up the culture of her destination from head to toe.
Throughout her travels, from the Philippines to Cameroon and beyond, Neely has made some of her most cherished memories through the relationships she has formed. Voted as one of the Houston 50 Women of Influence in 2008, she states that she is the one who has been blessed by this experience.
Helping Others Takes Priority For Franci Neely
According to Neely, having the means to help others is a type of moral responsibility when one is fortunate. While money is not the key to love, it has the potential to bring positive change to the lives of those less fortunate. This concept has been a central focus of her life.
The 40th anniversary of Houston-based literary arts group, Inprint, was recently celebrated, and Neely – who had once been president of the group – was a part of it. The organization works to promote reading and writing, offers programs for a broad range of ages and does outreach to those in prison. She expressed how much she has gotten out of her involvement with Inprint, saying, “My life is richer for it.”
Inprint has been making an impact on the local population over the past 40 years by providing services to more than 15,000 customers annually. The organization has gained recognition around the world for its dedication to celebrating the diversity of literature.
The Houston philanthropist has an especially strong appreciation for the arts. To give back, she co-founded the Houston Cinema Arts Society to add diversity to the local art scene and serves as co-chair of the Art of the Islamic Worlds subcommittee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Additionally, she has held multiple galas for nonprofits in Houston, such as the 25th Anniversary Gala of the Baker Institute with President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker.
Neely states that one of her beloved quotations about providing is from Winston Churchill: ‘What we give is what shapes our lives, whereas what we get is what helps us to survive.”