James Dondero is the founder of Highland Capital Management based in Dallas, Texas. He is a well-known philanthropist in the area, having donated millions of dollars in charity to help local projects expand. One such project is the newly constructed and opened hippopotamus enclosure at the Dallas Zoo, where he helped bring them back to the Dallas Zoo, to their newest habitat inside the facility.
According to the CEO and President of Dallas Zoo, Greg Hudson, it had been close to 15 years since the zoo last hosted a hippo. Due to increasing demands from visitors for hippos to be brought back to Dallas Zoo, a $14 million project was undertaken spanning 5 years, 4 of which were spent planning the enclosure right down to the last detail. The Simmons Hippo Outpost, named after the Harold Simmons Foundation that launched the project with a $5 million donation, consists of a 24 by 8-foot underwater viewing area for visitors to get up close with the giant mammals within a sprawling 2.1 acre habitat that was built to look and feel as natural as possible for the hippos it hosts. James Dondero contributed to this massive project by donating $1 million through Highland Capital for a 4.485 ft2 lodge that has been set aside for educational displays to teach the public about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Highland Capital has not settled for funding just this one project, teaming up with Linda Owen, former president of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, to provide its philanthropic efforts strategic management and direction. James Dondero’s firm donates $3 million to charitable organizations annually, such as the American Heart Association, the Center of Brain Health, Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Apart from monetary aid, Highland Capital often lends its employees as well who spend their time serving on the boards of non-profit organizations and provide leadership support to them.
James Dondero is not just an influential CEO of a successful company. In fact, he may be more renowned for the efforts he has made for causes that advance the Dallas community in a unique way.