From the time she was a little girl, veteran television journalist and host of the weekly magazine show Wild about Houston, wanted nothing more than to tell stories, report on local happenings and, share news. Now, at the helm of absolutely! Memorial as associate publisher, Lara is doing what she always wanted to do via a community magazine right in her own neighborhood where she has chosen to live and raise her family.
Though she was born in Columbus Ohio, Lara’s family moved here to Houston when she was 6 years- old, and she completely considers herself a Houstonian! The first place the Bell family lived when they arrived in Houston? Memorial, of course! “When we first moved to Houston and we were looking to buy a home, we lived in some apartments called Turkey Creek which were at the corner of Memorial and Eldridge,” said Lara. “Now, it’s a huge office building right in the Energy Corridor. I went to Nottingham Elementary for 2nd grade before we moved into Katy ISD.”
Lara and her husband, Brent, chose to call Memorial home for their family when they moved back in 2007. For the gregarious wife, mother, community servant, television host and now, publisher, returning to Memorial was like coming home. “For me, I feel like I have come full circle co-publishing a magazine in Memorial – my first home in Houston.”
Lara attended Taylor High School in Katy, and her family still calls Katy home. “Katy was a wonderful place to grow up,” said Lara. “But Memorial, to me, has always felt like home – like the place where I wanted to raise my family. I’ve always loved the neighborhood feel of Memorial with the majestic oak trees, quaint streets, manicured lawns, friendly people and of course, proximity to Galleria and downtown.”
“For me, I feel like I have come full circle co-publishing a magazine in Memorial – my first home in Houston. – Lara Bell”
Working in journalism and media for the past 18 years, Lara has had the opportunity to meet many interesting and diverse people. She began her career in television by working at Houston Community Television for four years in her early 20’s. Not only did she learn much about the industry, it sparked her interest to pursue other television opportunities.
“It was in 1997 that Joel Osteen bought a television station, KTBU-TV 55 The Tube,” recalled Lara. “I interviewed for the job with Joel, as well as Matt Reiff who was the General Manager and a Memorial resident, and they offered me the job as Public Affairs Director. Those two men changed my life by providing me with the opportunity to live my dream for fourteen wonderful years!”
In addition to serving as the station’s Public Affairs Director, Lara hosted a weekly magazine show Wild about Houston. “I loved my years at Channel 55 with the Osteen’s. And by the way, if you watch Joel and Victoria Osteen on television, they are the exact people you see – kind and purposeful.”
Transitioning from television to print was a natural for Lara. While it was a difficult decision to leave KTBU-TV, her television home for so long, she felt the timing was right. “I felt it was time to focus on and spend more time with my kids and the gazillion activities in their lives,” said Lara. “It’s been a few months since I’ve been off the air, and people stop and ask me ‘Do you miss television?’ And the answer is no, I don’t miss television. I am able to do exactly what I was doing before except now to a more niche group – my neighborhood! I loved sharing their stories on television, and now, sharing them with our readers. I’ve always felt I’m simply the vehicle to get the story out – whether in front of a camera or with my pen and paper.”
In addition to her roles as a wife, mother and publisher, Lara devotes many hours to serving the community she loves. She is a member of the Junior League of Houston, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the Houston Ballet Guild just to name a few. “I enjoy raising money for the numerous non- profits in Houston,” said Lara. “I’ve have the privilege of chairing events benefiting diverse organizations including the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market Preview Night to World AIDS Day Luncheon. This December, I am co-chairing the Houston Children’s Museum Gingerbread Bash. There are so many worthwhile organizations in Houston working so hard for the good of so many.”
While she supports many worthwhile organizations, Lara’s heart belongs to children. She is a Brownie Troop Leader and is very involved in her children’s schools. “My main focus in fundraising now is for the Children’s Museum and Bunker Hill Elementary. I am one of the co-chairs of the school auction this February, and I am amazed at the parental involvement and support of Memorial Schools. It is so wonderful!”
If you ask Lara where her passion lies, she is quick to respond. “My passion is my family.” She married her husband, Brent Milam, a descendant of Texas hero Ben Milam, in 2003 at Second Baptist Church in Houston. “We met in 2001 at a restaurant in Downtown Houston, and while I wasn’t interested in him after our first date, I was offended that he wasn’t that interested in me either!” recalled Lara.
On their second date, they realized that they shared many serendipitous moments. Though they attended Lamar University at the same time, they didn’t know each other. Brent was at the university on scholarship for their golf team. “When I moved out of the apartment I was living in on campus, Brent moved in the exact unit a week later,” said Lara. “When he transferred to the University of Houston golf team, he lived in an apartment off of Westheimer, and a couple years before, I had lived in the same complex.”
In December of 2003, the couple received the first of two remarkable blessings. Dylan Michelle Milam was born on December 19, 2003, and in August 2006, their family was complete with the arrival of Brooks Andrew Milam.
While many things are important in Lara’s life, her priorities always come back to family and friends. “Friends are a very important part of our life,” said Lara. “We love to have dinner parties and plan parties in general. It seems like I am always planning some type of party for my kids and their friends or our friends.”
While publishing a community magazine is new to Lara, her spirit, journalism experience and determination are helping her forge a new future for herself. Lara’s emphasis for absolutely Memorial! will be to continue to tell compelling, fun stories while continuing to support the community she loves. “My goal is to make absolutely! Memorial magazine the go to neighborhood resource for Memorial events, happenings, sports, new restaurants – everything Memorial – all highlighting what Memorialites are doing, promoting the budding businesses and all that Memorial has to offer.”
With a keen focus on community – all in her own back yard – Lara Bell and absolutely! Memorial: a winning combination!
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