Franci Neely lives by two rules she got from her law partner Steve Susman: “Don’t procrastinate” and “Give birth to high-quality work product but don’t await perfection.” As head of the Franci Neely Foundation and member of the board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among other philanthropic pursuits, she has had a chance to put these two concepts to work.
Why Procrastination Has Never Worked for Franci Neely
Neely has a lofty goal. She plans to visit every country at some point in her life. And she is close to achieving this dream. So far, she has managed to see 180 countries with her most recent visit to Africa. When asked, she finds her favorite place is usually the one she just left.
These travel plans are on Neely’s to-do list, and she doesn’t procrastinate. Instead, she is always getting ready for the next adventure. “Travel is the best education you can have. Go into it with an open mind. Learning about the world and differences– there’s nothing that’s a better education.”
While exploring each country, she takes the time to learn about the people and the regional cuisine. She makes a point of adding their fashion to her wardrobe. She immerses herself in the culture from head to toe.
It’s the relationships Neely makes that really matter to her, though. She picks up pen pals throughout her travels and makes an effort to stay in touch with them even as she adds more to her list. Franci Neely makes family and friends her priority. She never takes them for granted.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to do this — that I have the time. I want to [leave behind] an epitaph that says ‘She wanted to give back to society.’”
In 2008, Franci Neely was named one of Houston’s 50 Women of Influence.
Giving Back Matters to Franci Neely
“When you’re young, you always think that you have infinite time ahead of you. But you don’t. You don’t know how much time you have, so set goals.” She knows she doesn’t do it perfectly every time, but Neely believes she is a work in progress.
“Giving back is almost a moral obligation when one has been fortunate. Money can’t buy you love, but it can give you an ability to ideally improve things for others.”
With that in mind, Franci Neely remains a mainstay in the Houston-based literary arts group, Imprint. This group, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, encourages writers and promotes reading. They also offer community programs for multiple age groups and do outreach in prisons and jails.
“Through its 40 years of promoting, praising, and prizing the diversity of literature, Imprint has become an internationally renowned literary light.”
Franci Neely spent two decades as a lawyer. Now a retired Susman Godfrey LLP partner, she continues to give what she can by working and supporting Houston’s arts community. She grew up writing and performing plays with neighborhood children.
She co-founded the Houston Cinema Arts Society and is co-chair of the Art of the Islamic Worlds subcommittee of the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. She also chairs many galas, including the Baker Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala, and welcomed Barack Obama as the guest speaker. Giving back is something that matters to her.