Tony Petrello is a chief executive officer in the Houston, Texas oil industry. Many think that oil industry executives are a pack of evil people who don’t care about anything but making a profit by extracting oil from the ground. Like most stereotypes this really isn’t the case. Tony Petrello is an example of this as he has been giving money away philanthropically for many years.
He is originally from New Jersey and moved to the greater Houston area in 1991. Since that time he helped charitably in a number of ways. He says that the first five years he was in Houston he worked at his company, Nabor Industries, six or even seven days a week. His wife, Cynthia, was also busy working on her acting career. Due to this they didn’t socialize much or do too much to help out around Houston, at least not as much as they would have liked to have done.
This all changed in 1997 when they had a daughter born prematurely. She was born at just 24 weeks and as a consequence she had PVL (periventricular leukomalacia) which is a result of the body not getting enough oxygen. This changed their outlooks on life dramatically. Tony Petrello said this awakened a desire in both of them to do what they could for other people. They wanted to understand what happened to their daughter and how she and other people with childhood neurological conditions could be helped. His research into cerebral palsy showed him that very little research was going on into it. He decided to change that and that and donated $7 million to Texas Children’s Hospital where they are now doing research into cerebral palsy.
After Hurricane Harvey, Tony Petrello’s employees fanned out over the Gulf Coast to help people. He sent out an email telling everyone they were getting paid time off for this. They also raised almost $175,000 to help out, which he matched. He also helped feed local families by opening up his company’s kitchen to them.
He is a graduate of Yale. When one of his college mentors, Professor Serge Lang, passed away a few years ago he gave $150,000 to an endowment fund in Lang’s name. Once he saw how generous other alums on this college were in giving to this endowment fund he put in an additional $150,000 so that future students at this school could be financially supported.