Janice Suber McNair – The Heart of a Champion!
Cover photo and above right courtesy of Houston Texans Collective
Article photo above left by Gittings
Janice Suber McNair is the co-founder and senior chair of the Houston Texans and co-founder of McNair Interests. Following her husband’s death in 2018, Janice became the team’s principal owner, with the title of “senior chair.” Her son, Cal McNair, is the current CEO and day-to-day head of the franchise. However, Janice represents the Texans at NFL owners meetings and other league functions. She is one of ten female NFL team owners.
Since moving to Houston in 1960 with her late husband, Robert, Janice has raised four children and embarked on a lifelong career of giving back to the community, encouraging individuals to achieve their goals and creating opportunities for others.
The McNairs have been champions of philanthropy for decades, supporting deserving causes while making education and medical research the cornerstones of their charitable giving. They have been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for current and future generations by creating lasting, positive change. Contributions are made through The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and the Houston Texans Foundation in Houston, and The Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation in Forest City, N.C. Janice serves as a director of both foundations. To date, they have contributed more than a half billion dollars to charity.
With the inception of the Houston Texans in 2002, the McNairs started the Houston Texans Foundation with its mission to be Champions for Youth. Since that time, more than $35 million has been raised through annual fundraising events, disaster response programs, United Way campaigns and partnerships with nonprofit organizations. The Texans Foundation has aligned with three strategic community partners: the Houston Texans YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and the Houston Food Bank.
The Houston Texans are the Presenting Sponsor for The Wonderful World of the Women of Substance Virtual Presentation on November 6 at 11:30 benefiting The Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter for women and children. Funds will facilitate the building of a new playground for the children at The Mission.
The McNairs established McNair Scholars programs which recruit the best and brightest students and faculty to the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Menninger Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital and the Texas Heart Institute. Their contributions to academic medical research are leading to discoveries in the fields of Type 1 diabetes, cancer and the neurosciences. Baylor College of Medicine named the McNair Campus in recognition of their transformational gift in 2007 to the McNair Medical Institute and McNair Scholars Program. In 2015, the McNairs began establishing McNair Centers for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise. Today, these Centers at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, the University of St. Thomas Houston, Houston Baptist University, the University of South Carolina and Northwood University in Midland, Michigan promote an understanding and appreciation of the role innovation, entrepreneurism and free enterprise play in society. .
The McNair’s love of community is evident throughout the City of Houston, including McNair Hall at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the McNair Foundation Jogging Trail at Discovery Green, McNair Asian Elephant Habitat and the addition of the African Forest at the Houston Zoo, United Way’s 2-1-1 Center, McNair Gallery and Education Court at the Museum Fine Arts Houston, Houston Parks Bayou Greenways 2020, Houston Baptist University’s McNair Hall and McNair Plaza and Pro-Vision’s McNair Urban Farm and McNair Football and Track Field.
When Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in 2017, the McNairs stepped forward to give $3 million to the United Way of Greater Houston for relief efforts and helped restore the Houston Grand Opera. Janice has been a strong proponent of the arts, serving as a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and supporting the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Symphony.
Her vision for a Houston Independent School District (HISD) Fine Arts Initiative helped create a model program for the nation which earned HISD a U.S. Department of Education Grant. The McNairs most recently chaired the American Cancer Society’s “Hope Lodge Houston” capital campaign and co-chaired Texas Children’s Hospital’s “Promise Campaign.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic in Houston, Janice donated $1 million to the Houston Rent Relief fund to help apartment residents in Houston facing eviction during the economic recession. She and the McNair family donated $250,000 to Houston Food Bank and $250,000 to Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Meals on Wheels. Multitudinous contributions have been made to Covid-19 relief through the Houston Texans Foundation.
Janice has been honored by numerous nonprofit organizations including the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council in 2005, Houston Independent School District in 2008, Child Advocates in 2009, the Salvation Army in 2014 and the Prayer Institute in 2019. In 2010, the DePelchin Children’s Center presented Janice and Bob McNair with their Kezia DePelchin Award and in the same year the Association of Fundraising Professionals presented them with their Maurice Hirsch Award for Philanthropy, the highest recognition given to an individual or family for exceptional generosity and outstanding civic and charitable responsibility. Texas Children’s Cancer Center honored the McNairs as their 2011 Community Champions. In 2014, they were presented UNICEF’s inaugural Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award and Houston Baptist University’s President’s Award, followed by the “Lombardi Honors Humanitarians of the Year” Award in 2017. In November 2018, they received Houston Baptist University’s Founders Medal, which had only been awarded one other time. The McNair Foundation received the Scouting “Vale la Pena” Service Award from the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 2019.
Growing up in Orangeburg, S.C., Janice was active in sports, choir and student government; she was elected vice president of the student council at Orangeburg High School, president of the South Carolina Association of Student Councils and governor of the South Carolina Girls’ State. She attended Columbia College in Columbia, S.C. and later received an honorary doctorate from her school.
Janice has four adult children, sixteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She is a longtime breast cancer survivor.
When I asked her what is the hardest part of owning an NFL team, she said: “The hardest part about being an NFL owner is losing games. The best part about being an NFL owner is winning games.” Win or lose, Janice, Houston will be eternally grateful to you! You have the Heart of a Champion!