Presented By

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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The City of Philanthropists Thursday, July 31, at 3:41pm on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Lyda Hill

On October 22, 2010, Lyda Hill wrote a short letter, addressed to “whomever it may concern”: “I wish to make the world a better place by advancing solutions to medical and environmental issues through investments in and donations to science. … At my death my entire estate and my foundation will be distributed to charities I have designated.”

The letter was part of The Giving Pledge, the effort led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to encourage the wealthiest people to donate the bulk of their fortunes to philanthropic efforts in their lifetime. But Hill, who turns 72 this month, did not need any prompting to give back. She’s been doing so for as long as she can remember, donating time and energy before she had money of her own to give. “I didn’t know there was another way,” she says.

Hill is part of a long Dallas tradition of philanthropists in the city’s richest families, a tradition that includes her parents, Albert and Margaret Hunt Hill. But the granddaughter of oil magnate H.L. Hunt has set herself apart. She’s put money into nature conservancy projects, started a venture capital firm for biomedical research, and, lately, has been heavily involved with efforts to help wounded soldiers with brain trauma. 

She gave $15 million to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (whose CEO, Nicole Small, she hired away last year to run her foundation). And in 2011, she gifted $20 million to her alma mater, the Hockaday School, half of which went to new classrooms and research space for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She doubled her initial pledge of $10 million after learning it would have been only the third-largest donation.

Last year alone, Hill gave $63 million to science-related causes. The biggest chunk—$50 million—went to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, an ambitious, interdisciplinary attack on cancer rates. Hill’s was the largest donation until another foundation matched it. 

But she hasn’t stepped up her philanthropy because she wrote that letter in 2010. It’s much simpler than that: the same year, Hill finally came into her full inheritance from her grandfather’s trust. “I just have so much more money to give now,” she says.