Lyda Hill began her career in 1967 when she founded Hill World Travel, a market-leading travel consultancy. She spent the early part of her career building that business, moving on to prioritize venture capital investments and volunteering after selling the company in 1982. Today, she dedicates most of her time and energy to philanthropy. She is one of the few women to make the 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy list of most generous donors and Forbes magazine’s 2014 list of top 15 entrepreneurs who give back to the community. As part of her desire to leave a lasting mark on society, Hill signed the Giving Pledge in 2010, vowing to donate the entirety of her wealth to charity and to do so largely during her lifetime.
Many nonprofit organizations have benefitted from Hill’s leadership, including the Visiting Nurse Association, the Dallas chapter of the World Presidents’ Organization, and the Dallas and Texas chapters of the American Heart Association. She was appointed to President Ronald Reagan’s Advisory Council on Private Sector Initiatives for an enormously successful project she launched in the 1980s called the Volunteer Connection, which promotes volunteerism in the Dallas/Fort Worth area — an initiative that has since been replicated across the country.
Lyda Hill Philanthropies invests in catalytic, solution-oriented initiatives that have the potential to impact global issues, reflecting Hill’s vision of mixing entrepreneurial vigor with a commitment to balancing profit with purpose. Rooted in her own battle with breast cancer, the foundation prioritizes scientific research. Hill is a strong believer that “science is the answer” to life’s most challenging issues and is committed to funding transformational advances in medical and environmental science. Among her many efforts to effect meaningful change, she has supported numerous mental health programs and research initiatives, as well as launching a venture capital fund focused on getting promising scientific advances in biomedical research to the marketplace quickly.
Closer to home, the foundation works to empower nonprofit organizations and to improve the places closest to Hill’s heart: local communities in Colorado and Texas. Hill has supported conservation projects such as the Nature Conservancy’s Mapping Ocean Wealth project and has been influential in the funding and development of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, and the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center in Colorado Springs, among many other projects that revitalize local communities. Her recent philanthropic efforts include grants to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, which works to combat and eliminate cancer, and a grant to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to establish the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics.