Franci Neely is a mainstay in the Houston art community. She worked as a lawyer for two decades and now is a retired Susman Godfrey LLP partner. While at her job, she received advice that she lives by today from her law partner, Steve Susman.
“Don’t procrastinate!” And he also advised giving birth to a high-quality work product but not to await perfection.”
As head of the Franci Neely Foundation in Houston, she carries these words wherever she goes and she goes to many places.
Traveling the World is Franci Neely’s Dream
Franci Neely is a travel enthusiast. She dreams of visiting every country at some point in her life. That is a goal she is close to achieving. While slowed down by the COVID pandemic, she is back on the road with her most recent visit to Africa.
While in each country, she immerses herself in the people and their culture. She helps support the economy by buying clothes while there and enjoys regional cuisine. It’s the relationships that really stand out to her, though. She believes these are the things that truly enrich her life and open her eyes to the existing differences.
In a speech to the University of Texas at Austin School of Law graduates, she advised them to travel.
“Travel is the best education you can have. Go into it with an open mind. Learning about the world and about differences — there’s nothing that’s a better education.”
Through her travels, Neely has made many friends and even acquired a few godchildren.
“I’m very fortunate in having a pretty vast but meaningful network of really close friends,” she says. “They are my family too. We nurture each other, and I am so lucky to have them in my life.”
Through these relationships and traveling, she has learned how important it is not to waste time.
Time is Precious to Franci Neely
Improving the lives of others is also a dream for Franci Neely. She admits she doesn’t do it right every time but is a work in progress.
“Giving back is almost a moral obligation when one has been fortunate,” according to Neely. “Money can’t buy you love, but it can give you the ability to improve things for others ideally.” And improving things for those less fortunate is the goal for Franci Neely.
She is closely involved with the Houston-based literary arts group, Inprint. They encourage writers and promote reading with multiple age groups. They also provide outreach to local jails and prisons.
Neely explains, “Through its 40 years of promoting, praising, and prizing the diversity of literature, Inprint has become an internationally renowned literary light.”
Along with Inprint, Neely co-founded the Houston Cinema Arts Society and worked to add diversity to the arts community. She is co-chair for the Art of the Islamic Worlds subcommittee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She also chairs many local galas, including the Bake Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala featuring President Obama. In 2008, Franci Neely was named one of Houston’s 50 Women of Influence.
Although she strives to give back, she finds her life is the one most enriched for it.
“One of my favorite quotations about giving is by Winston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.'”