Dallas is well-known for its bustling dining scene, its sports, and its skyline. A lesser known, thriving industry, however, is one that many wouldn’t expect: philanthropy. Though not readily thought about by the average person, as the third largest city in Texas and the nineth largest in the United States, it begins to make sense that philanthropy would be so important to a city like Dallas.
Among the city’s wealthy, there are few people who have made a dent in Texas, and the Southwest as a whole, quite like Lyda Hill. The philanthropic powerhouse supports a wide variety of organizations—some non-profit, and some for-profit—through Lyda Hill Philanthropies. While their supported industries are diverse, she focuses on science, nature, and improving local communities in Texas and Colorado—two states near and dear to her heart.
When an extraordinary team is trying to find a solution, an organization desperately needs funding, or a problem seems “impossible,” Lyda Hill makes it her mission to offer support. It’s this dedication to help the underdog that has granted Hill accolades from one of Philanthropy’s Most Generous Donors of 2013 and Forbes’ 2014 Top 15 Entrepreneurs Who Give Back.
Lyda Hill. Credit: Southwestern Medical Foundation.
Hill’s career as a philanthropist began in 1982, after she sold her travel agency, Hill World Travel—the largest travel agency in Dallas and one of the largest agencies in the country at the time. From that point on, her trajectory changed. She served as president of Seven Falls (a series of waterfalls) and developed the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, both in Colorado Springs. She helped revitalize the historic district of Forth Worth by pouring her energy into the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Her attention shifted to science during a major life struggle of her own: breast cancer. Jolted to action, Hill founded the Oklahoma Breast Care Center and launched Remeditex Ventures, a capital fund that invests in biomedical research and brings the best scientific advances to the marketplace as quickly as possible. Chief among them are: a $50 million grant to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program that aims to combat and eliminate cancer; a $20 million grant to her alma mater (The Hockaday School) to fund their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program; and a $2 million grant to the Center for BrainHealth to help treat traumatic brain injuries military service members and veterans sustain.
Lyda Hill with George W. and Laura Bush. Credit: Lyda Hill Philanthropy
Lyda Hill’s philanthropic choices are about giving to programs and communities in an effort to make a difference in the world. Whether giving to organizations who preserve our natural resources or provide food to those in need, Hill is about making the world a better place—and she’ll give until she has nothing left.
In 2010, Hill became a member of The Giving Pledge—a program created by Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet. The idea is that the world’s wealthiest individuals don’t die on a pile of money. Instead, some of the world’s wealthiest individuals have committed to dedicating a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
Hoarding wealth is a concern for many individuals. No matter what one’s thoughts are on the topic, one has to be impressed by Hill’s plan to not only donate the entirety of her wealth to charity, but to do so during her lifetime. People like Lydia Hill are a dime a dozen.
“I will enjoy seeing it spent,” she says. “I want it to go down with me.”
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