James Dondero Believes in Giving Back

James Dondero is the co-founder and president of Highland Capital Management, LP. He is a Dallas resident, and it is his passion to make the city better. Dondero attended the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce where he earned two Bachelor of Science degrees. His choice of school gave Dondero the education and experience he needed to be successful in the financial sector.

A Little Background Information

In 1984, James started working for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Because he worked in the company’s financial training program, he was eventually able to land a high position at American Express. From 1985 to 1989, he managed $1 billion fixed income funds for the financial giant. A higher position tempted Dondero to leave American Express. In 1989, he became Protective Life’s chief investment officer. During his time there, he was able to transform the company into a $2 billion business.

After working at Protective Life for a few years, he ventured out on his own and started a company, naming it Highland Capital Management. This move resulted in his becoming one of the country’s largest alternative credit managers. Dondero’s company is an investment firm, one that specializes in credit hedge funds, private equity accounts and a variety of credit accounts. While James spends most of his time working for the firm, he has set aside time for several charitable organizations. Because of this, he is quickly becoming known as a generous philanthropist. Read this article at barrons.com.

Giving Back to His Community

Because he noticed that his community could use some help, James Dondero has taken on a variety of projects in Dallas. One of his favorites was to help the Dallas Zoo rebuild the hippo habitat. After the zoo’s elderly hippo passed away, James donated $1 million to the zoo. Dondero and other local philanthropists came together to donate a total of $14 million to the zoo. Because of their generousness, zoo patrons can now see hippos living in the spacious Highland Capital Lodge.

With 2.1 acres, the zoo’s hippo exhibit has plenty of space for its new residents. The enclosure features a 120,000-gallon African waterhole to make the hippos feel at home. Named after Dondero’s investment firm, the hippo lodge is now the home of Adhama. He is six years old, and he came from the Los Angeles Zoo. Adhama weighs 3,722 pounds, so he needs the extra space of the refurbished enclosure. Adhama doesn’t live there alone. Boipelo lives in the Dallas Zoo with him. She is 10 years old, and she came from the Albuquerque Biological Park. Together, the two hippos have added freshness and excitement to the zoo.

James said, “At Highland Capital Management, we always invest in the community by offering support to organizations that advance the Dallas area in unparalleled and prestigious ways.” He enjoys being a part of a company that is interested in providing rewarding experiences to the city’s residents. Along with delivering financial help to the Dallas Zoo, James and his company have given money to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute, the Perot Museum of Natural Science, Uplift Education and the Education is Freedom charity. Read more about James at Crunchbase.

Getting Involved in Charitable Causes

Since starting Highland Capital Management, one of Dondero’s main goals was to be a part of charitable causes. He didn’t want to establish a business for just himself. Under James’s guidance, the firm has experienced impressive success and growth. Highland Capital Management has begun a business relationship with the President and CEO of The Dallas Foundation, Mary Jalonick. Her background includes numerous charitable endeavors. She also has a team that works solely on philanthropy efforts.

After developing a business relationship with Mary, Dondero decided to donate more than $3 million a year to his own charitable budget. Together, James and Mary started the Highland Dallas Foundation Inc. to help James choose his charities. Right now, the foundation is focusing its charity work on North Texas. It has gone to work supporting the area’s educational and healthcare needs as well as the community’s veterans.

Now that he is an experienced entrepreneur and humanitarian, James Dondero offers grants during the year to support different Dallas organizations. Jalonick recently mentioned that James’s grants are a vital contribution to the local community.

The Decision to Hire Linda Owen

With her past experience as the CEO of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, Linda Owen was the perfect addition to The Dallas Foundation. It’s her job to connect James with charitable agencies that are working to improve North Texas. According to James, she has the right philanthropic experience, the kind that will ensure that his firm continues to be a positive influence in the city. Linda has already facilitated several new charitable commitments for Highland Capital Management to be a part of in Dallas.

James said, “As we’ve expanded our philanthropic activities, we recognized the need for a dedicated professional to ensure our contributions make the greatest impact.” He went on to say, “Linda has a proven track record of building effective public-private partnerships in Dallas and shares our vision for making an immediate and tangible difference in our community.”

The firm donated a $1 million challenge grant to The Family Place, which is a shelter for men who have experienced domestic violence. Owen also hosted a Mother’s Day event at the zoo to raise more funds for the shelter’s residents.

In a recent interview, Linda said, “Highland’s commitment to philanthropy is inspiring. The firm’s engagement in the work of all the organizations it supports goes beyond funding. Employees readily give their time and energy as active board members, coming up with creative solutions to the challenges these nonprofits face.”

A Better Place for Everyone

James Dondero is an individual who is not only successful in his financial life, but he is also successfully making Dallas a better place for everyone. From improving the city’s educational opportunities to making sure that culture is available to those who live in and around the area, James is dedicated to his favorite town.

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