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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Colorado Springs, Colorado

About Lyda Hill

 

FUNDING PRIORITIES

Lyda Hill reflects a mix of entrepreneurial vigor and a commitment to balancing profit with purpose. Miss Hill is committed to investing in catalytic, solution-oriented initiatives that have the potential to impact global issues such as food security and safety, water conservation, urban green spaces, medical research, public health and other related efforts.

Miss Hill proactively looks for opportunities where her funding can lead to meaningful change. Projects that are the best fit often involve:

Tackling problems that are bold, complex and what some might call “impossible”

Supporting extraordinary leaders with the passion and determination to build scalable solutions

Funding elements that other funders can’t or won’t support

Inspiring others to invest or de-risking an opportunity for others to follow

Engaging in thoughtful and strategic collaboration

 

BIOGRAPHY

Lyda Hill is a Dallas entrepreneur, a philanthropist and one of the few women to make the 2013 Philanthropy list of most generous donors and Forbes’ 2014 list of top 15 entrepreneurs who give back to the community. Through her for-profit and not-for-profit investments, Miss Hill is committed to funding game-changing advances in science and nature, to empowering nonprofit organizations and to improving the local communities of greatest importance to her, North Texas and Colorado Springs.

Miss Hill’s varied career reflects business savvy, entrepreneurial vigor and a commitment to balancing profit with purpose. She began her career in 1967 when she founded Hill World Travel; it quickly became the largest travel agency in Dallas and was one of the largest in the country when it was sold in 1982. She subsequently served as president of Seven Falls near Colorado Springs, a series of seven cascading waterfalls that has been called “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado.” She later developed and constructed the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, also in Colorado Springs. Miss Hill continued her business pursuits in 1990 by partnering to revitalize the Fort Worth Stockyards into an award-winning, historic tourist and shopping area highlighting the city’s heritage.

Believing that “science is the answer,” Lyda Hill also followed her lifelong passion for game-changing life sciences investments — a deeply personal mission heightened by her own battle with breast cancer. Among her many initiatives, she founded the Oklahoma Breast Care Center and funded and launched Remeditex Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in early biomedical research by universities and health care institutions designed to take promising scientific advances to the marketplace quickly.

In recent years, Miss Hill has focused her life sciences philanthropic efforts on a number of other game-changing advances. Chief among them are:

A $50 million grant to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program which aims to combat and eliminate cancer;

A $25 million grant to the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center to establish the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics;

A $20 million grant to her alma mater, The Hockaday School, to fund a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program;

A $3 million grant to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), to establish a Veteran Health and Trauma Clinic and related academic program;

A $2 million grant to the Center for BrainHealth, intended to help military service members and veterans recover from traumatic brain injuries and

Grants to fund a variety of environmental and marine conservation efforts being conducted by The Nature Conservancy and Pew Charitable Trusts.

Also a patron of projects designed to revitalize communities near and dear to her,  Miss Hill has been instrumental in the funding and development of, among other things, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, a $6 million grant to VolunteerNow for its VOLY platform and commitments to UCCS and the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs.

As part of her desire to leave a lasting mark on society, Miss Hill became a member of The Giving Pledge in 2010. The Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, is a commitment by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Miss Hill has pledged to donate the entirety of her wealth to charity, the bulk of which she plans to do during her lifetime.

In addition to her monetary gifts, countless nonprofit organizations have benefited from Miss Hill’s leadership, including the Visiting Nurses Association, the Dallas chapter of the World Presidents’ Organization, the Crystal Charity Ball, the Junior League of Dallas, the Dallas and Texas chapters of the American Heart Association and Easter Seals of North Texas. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious President’s Volunteer Action Award and an appointment to President Ronald Reagan’s Advisory Council on Private Sector Initiatives for a project she launched in the 1980s called The Volunteer Connection. This enormously successful project, created to promote volunteerism in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, has since been duplicated nationwide.

Miss Hill attended The Hockaday School, a school for girls in Dallas, from 1952 to 1960. She entered Stanford University in 1960 but soon left to attend Hollins University, a small liberal arts college for women in Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1964.

Printable bio

  • “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’… then you’ll be knowin’ where it’s goin’.”

  • “The best philanthropy is constantly in search of the finalities
    – a search for a cause, an attempt to cure evils at their source.”

  • “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

  • “The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life.”

  • “The proper aim of giving is to put the recipients in a state where they no longer need our gifts.”

  • “Philanthropy is the practice of applying assets of knowledge, passion and wealth to bring about constructive change.”

  • “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

  • “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

  • “Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind.”

  • “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

  • “A man’s true wealth is the good he does in this world.”

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

  • “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

  • “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”