Hundreds of Grace School Alumni are making a positive impact in their communities. In every facet of society, our alumni are making their mark and striving to make the world a better place. By sharing their stories, our alumni serve as role models for our current Grace School students. We sat down with Alumna Katie Stone, the daughter of the late Cleverley Stone, founder of Houston Restaurant Weeks, the largest annual fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. Katie moved back to Houston this year to assume the position of President of The Cleverley Stone Foundation, carrying on the production of the city’s largest annual fundraiser of its kind. This year, she is also a new Grace School mom, as her son just started Kindergarten.
Alumna Interview with Katie Stone
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up at the Jersey Shore and in Houston. I was involved in most sports and I was also a chess player. I was a ballgirl for the Houston Rockets during their championship years and have many fond memories of all those amazing CLUTCH wins! In college, I co-founded a company called USA Chess that organizes chess camps for kids and after-school chess programs in more than 100 U.S cities, including Houston. For the last 12 years I have been a professional poker player, I am a Team Pro for the partypokerUS Network and I am a commentator for the World Poker Tour.
Share with us one of your most favorite Grace School memories.
I started my time at Grace Middle School, and they would take the middle school students to Mo-Ranch every year as a retreat. We’d do outdoor group activities that involved problem-solving, games and team building exercises. I really looked forward to these retreats because they were huge confidence boosts, relationship builders and they were challenging and fun! Another great memory I have is of my French teacher, Mrs. Saba. She was so devoted to us, every time we walked into her class it was like an immersion into French culture. I remember one time our class went to a French restaurant for lunch, we got a special free dress day and everyone got very dressed up! My Mom came with us to lunch that day – it was so much fun; I still remember the first paragraph that Mrs. Saba had us memorize for ordering our food!
What was the name of one Grace School teacher who truly made an impact in your life?
Mrs. Wilson, my math teacher made a huge impact on my life. She was so very sweet and caring and was always there after school when I would stop by for some extra help. We had a wonderful relationship, and she truly loved helping her students. Grace was my second family for me, as it was for everyone.
What was one lesson you learned during your time at Grace School that helped you in your career and beyond?
Grace taught us to be confident in ourselves. The environment at Grace was very loving and were always learning something new about the world around us. We loved the Grace School culture and how supportive they were of me and my Mom, who was a single, working Mother in a new city.
Where did you attend high school?
I attended St. Agnes.
Where did you attend college?
I attended the University of Texas at Dallas where I was a part of the Chess Program.
How does it feel to have your son attend the same school you did?
I am grateful beyond words that he also gets to attend Grace School. Luca is so excited in kindergarten this year, knowing that mommy went to Grace, it’s very sweet to see.
What do you look forward to in terms of returning to Grace as a parent/alumna?
Grace School welcomed my mom and I all those years ago when the two of us moved to Houston from New Jersey, and now with Luca, as we again have moved back to Houston from New Jersey. I am so very thankful and passionate about the school and how it helped me grow and I hope to support the teachers and staff in any way I can. Grace School built a foundation for me and I know it continues to do so for our children.
What are your plans for keeping your mother’s legacy alive in Houston?
My Mom fought a very public battle against hunger in this city for more than 25 years. Houston Restaurant Weeks‘ growth over the last 18 years not only flipped month of August for HRW restaurants in Houston from being their slowest month of the year to being their best month of the year, but it has also grown to become the largest annual fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. COVID-19 showed us how truly important HRW is for the food bank, the hospitality industry and business owners in our community. My goal is to continue to expand my mother’s mission and legacy in Houston and beyond by finding ways to end hunger and by helping those in need. The Cleverley Stone Foundation’s board of directors consists of my mother’s “Kitchen Cabinet”, including D’Artagnan Bebel, GM and SVP of FOX26 Houston, Benjamin Berg, Founder, Berg Hospitality, Melissa Stevens of Stevens Group PR and Arthur Mooradian of Gordon Ramsay North America.