Houston, TX, May 10, 2021 – Rick Steves, travel host and best-selling guidebook author, inspired Houstonians to dust off their passports and broaden their perspectives through travel during the 5th annual Beyond the Page event. Rick imparted travel wisdom and encouraged cross-cultural appreciation and exploration through travel.

“Rick Steves was such an uplifting and encouraging speaker. He created a hopeful outlook of positive things to come,” said Sally Swanson, Executive Director of the Houston Public Library Foundation, the host and creator of Beyond the Page. “His conversation with our emcee, Melanie Lawson, just flowed so naturally. Rick’s sincere appreciation of foreign cultures fit perfectly with the Houston Public Library’s mission of linking you to the world.” Swanson continued, “After the event, I went online to look for upcoming travel opportunities. I love to travel, just for the reasons that Rick shared, to embrace other cultures, learn new customs, and appreciate the world for its many blessings.”

Special guest speakers included Melanie Lawson, KTRK-TV ABC Channel 13 Eyewitness News Anchor; Dr. Rhea Lawson, Director of the Houston Public Library; and Licia Green-Ellis, Chairperson of the Houston Public Library Foundation. The event was 100% virtual, yet the hosted platform added personal interaction and vendor opportunities, providing guests with an expanded virtual experience.

During the brief program, Licia Green-Ellis thanked the event’s sponsors, “Phillips 66 has shared the vision of Beyond the Page from our very first event in 2017. To Claudia Kreisle and all of our friends at Phillips 66, thank you so very much for making Beyond the Page possible. Phillips 66’s focus on literacy makes a strong partnership, and a literate Houston is a strong Houston. Special thanks to Comcast and HEB for their continuing their sponsorships at a leadership ‘Editor’ level. Your commitment to Beyond the Page strengthens the Houston Public Library Foundation’s ability to fulfill our mission and serve our diverse community with impactful Houston Public Library programs.”

During Rick’s presentation, he shared how he is an outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel. But above all else, Rick considers himself a teacher. He taught his first travel class at his college campus in the mid-1970s — and now, more than 40 years later, he still measures his success not by dollars earned but by trips impacted. Rick is the founder and owner of Rick Steves’ Europe, a travel business with a tour program that brings more than 30,000 people to Europe annually. 

Rick shared his positive business philosophy. During Covid, he has kept his employees engaged with the company, so they are ready to resume travel plans as soon as the pandemic permits. Rick also explained how each year, the company contributes to a portfolio of climate-smart nonprofits, essentially paying a self-imposed carbon tax to offset the impact his tours could potentially be making on the environment.

About Beyond the Page is the annual fundraising event in support of the Houston Public Library Foundation, whose mission is to unite partners who value lifelong learning. Library programs enhance social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development. Advancing personal skills improve self-sustainability as well as competitiveness and employability. The exceptional programs offered through the Houston Public Library remain free to the public because of your philanthropy.

For more information on Beyond the Page, visit for additional event details.

Media Contact

Sally Swanson
Houston Public Library Foundation
550 McKinney Street, Houston, TX 77002