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Andrew Hillman
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This Billionaire Didn't Go to the U. of Pittsburgh, So Why Did He Lay $5 Million on the Place?

 AuthorAde Adeniji

At 95 years of age, Henry L. Hillman is one of the world's oldest billionaires. He inherited his fortune from his industrialist father, J.H. Hillman, Jr., of Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical. Henry Hillman diversified the fortune by investing in real estate, private equity, and venture capital. His net worth currently sits at $2.5 billion. 

Last month, the Hillman Family Foundation gave a $5 million gift to the University of Pittsburgh in support of its Institute of Politics, a public policy and political forum for local civic leaders, as well as a resource for students and other aspirants. The gift will help fund the Civic Engagement Scholars Program and several other intitatives the institute hopes will help support students conducting independent public policy research.

The interesting thing about this gift is that Hillman didn't go to the University of Pittsburgh. Hillman went to Princeton and has given to a number of different universities from PA-based Carnegie Mellon to Colgate University. What about Henry's wife, Elsie Hillman, who also helps run the foundation? Well, she didn't go to the Unversity of Pittsburgh either, but she has quite the political CV, which helps us start to understand this gift.

Here's quick rundown: In the 1950s, Elsie Hillman campaigned for Ike Eisenhower. In the 1960s, she became an advocate for civil rights and served on the board of several historically African-American organizations. Later that decade, she became the chair of the Allegheny County Republican Party, the first woman ever to do so in an urban locale. Finally, in 1975, she began a two-decade tenure as a national committeewoman for the RNC. In other words, it makes sense that a former politico like Esie would want to cultivate political engagement. 

Elise and her husband Henry mainly focus their giving on their state and especially the Western Pennsylvania region. The Hillman Family Foundation was set up in 1951 by Henry's father and Henry took the reins of the foundation in 1964. In recent years, they've given money to everything from a start-up bike sharing company in downtown Pittsburgh to a photography initiative under their name at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The Hillmans dabble in everything from conservation to animal health. 

The Hillman Family Foundation is under the umbrella of the larger Hillman Family Foundations, which has 17 other foundations underneath it. The foundations are spread throughout the country. 

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Elsie Hillman

Elsie Hilliard Hillman (December 9, 1925 – August 4, 2015) was an American civic and political leader, philanthropist and activist with a lifelong interest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A Republican National Committeewoman for over 20 years, she was instrumental in electing moderate Republicans, including President George H. W. Bush, Senator John Heinz, and Pennsylvania Governors Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge. She worked with Democrats and Republicans alike on issues near to her heart: civil rights, women’s rights, and jobs for people in the Pittsburgh region. Known for her down-to-earth nature and sense of humor, Pittsburghers regularly encountered "Elsie" in her signature headband, as she was active as a philanthropist and civic leader in the city and region

Hillman was born in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania,[2] a suburb of Pittsburgh, the daughter of Thomas Jones Hilliard and Marianna Talbott Hilliard. She was raised in the Fox Chapel and Hampton Township areas of Allegheny County before her family moved into the City of Pittsburgh. Hillman and her brothers and sister were taught, through their mother’s example, that they had a responsibility to serve others. Marianna Talbott Hilliard’s own work included leading local volunteers in spotting aircraft over Pittsburgh during World War II, serving on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, and heading the citywide effort to raise money to buy mobile kitchens and hospital equipment for war-bombed England. Hillman began her own volunteering by cleaning instruments for surgeries at Eye and Ear Hospital in Pittsburgh, selling War Bonds, and knitting socks for soldiers. During her elementary and upper school years, Hillman attended the Ellis School in Pittsburgh and the Ethel Walker School in Connecticut. After she graduated from high school, Hillman went to Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. to study piano and voice. (Her grandmother, Catherine Hauk Talbott, founded the college, which now is part of Rider University.) By then, she had fallen in love with Henry Hillman, a U.S. Navy pilot stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. She and Hillman had met years earlier in Pittsburgh. They were wed in 1945.

The Hillmans lived in New York and Texas, returning to the City of Pittsburgh at the end of the war.

Hillman first ventured into politics as a young woman, campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower because she saw him as a war hero.[3] She had already registered as a Republican—both because of family tradition and the party’s support for women, including the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

After Ike’s successful campaigns, Hillman remained involved in the Republican party during the 1960s as a volunteer at the local level. Her work in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County caused her to see how few African American men or women were involved in her party, so she arranged to meet with the county party chairman to raise the issue. He suggested that she meet Wendell Freeland, an African American lawyer and Tuskegee Airman, to team-up to recruit more volunteers and candidates from the city’s African American community.

Hillman and Freeland did this, going on to organize neighborhoods across the City of Pittsburgh and becoming lifelong friends through political and civic work that spanned decades.[4]

Their work took Hillman into neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and the county she had never been. It was during this period that she developed her connections with African American leaders as well as a sense of outrage about the civil rights being denied to Black Americans. She volunteered for the board of directors of several traditionally African American organizations, including the Hill House Association, and began to speak publicly for civil rights.

Hillman and Freeland were able to reach African American voters in ways that the party had not before Never a Spectator and they organized large-scale events, including a 17,000-person rally[5] for William Scranton when he ran for governor; Scranton was elected in 1962.

Because of Scranton’s moderate views and strong support of Civil Rights legislation, Hillman backed his candidacy during the 1964 Republican presidential primary in San Francisco (after having worked actively for Nelson Rockefeller, who withdrew from the race). She witnessed the poor treatment of African American Republican delegates by some of those who opposed Scranton.[6] Scranton ultimately lost the nomination to Senator Barry Goldwater, who would go on to be defeated in the general election by Lyndon Johnson.

Hillman worked to elect Senator Hugh Scott, who had led the Republican National Committee and would rise to the position of Senate Minority Leader. With Scott’s encouragement, she ran for the position of chair of the Allegheny County Republican Party and was elected to the job in 1967—the first woman elected to head the party of an urban area.[7] It was during her time as party chair that she worked to field winning candidates and develop connections with her counterparts across the state of Pennsylvania, including the members of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.

During and after her tenure as party chair, Hillman worked to advance moderate candidates who supported civil rights and women’s rights—urging them to run, helping them to organize their campaigns (often staffing them, as a volunteer), and connecting them with the leaders of organized labor and other influential groups. She and her family made extensive contributions to campaigns as well, eventually establishing a political action committee to support moderate candidates.[8] She was also known as a supporter of abortion rights.[9]

In 1975, the State Committee of Pennsylvania elected Hillman to the Republican National Committee (RNC). She served as a national committeewoman until 1996.

Hillman is credited with helping to elect to office U.S. President George H.W. Bush, U.S. Senator John Heinz, PA Governor Dick Thornburgh, and PA Governor Tom Ridge.[10] She work on George H. W. Bush's 1980 campaign and helped him win the Pennsylvania primary. Ronald Reagan won the party nomination, but Bush was his vice-presidential running mate.[9]

In 2002, she was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Sy Snyder's Power 50."[11] In 2003, she was named to the PoliticsPA "Power 50" list.[12] She was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Pennsylvania's Most Politically Powerful Women."[13] In 2010, Politics Magazine named her one of the most influential Republicans in Pennsylvania, calling her the "grand dame of big tent Republican politics."[14]

Hillman died on August 4, 2015, at age 89.[2] Among the numerous political, civic, business, and medical leaders who attended her memorial service were former Pennsylvania governors Tom Corbett, Tom Ridge, and Dick Thornburgh.[15] Burial was at Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.[16

Year Selected Civic/Political Activities of Elsie Hillman (from Never A Spectator, pages 112–117)
1952 Volunteers for Dwight D. Eisenhower campaign
1954 Joins board of WQED
1956 Elected Republican committee member by the 14th Ward, City of Pittsburgh
1960 Appointed volunteer chair, Republican Committee of Allegheny County
1962 Organizes outreach to African American voters as a volunteer for William Scranton’s campaign for Pennsylvania governor
1964 Elected GOP chair, 14th Ward (retired in 1974); Elected alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in San Francisco
1965 Serves on a leadership committee to form the Hill House Association (from the merger of the Anna B. Heldman Community Center and Soho Settlement House); Joins the Allegheny County Anti-Poverty Advisory Council
1966 Plays integral role in Dick Thornburgh for Congress campaign
1967 Elected chair, Republican Committee of Allegheny County; Joins board of Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University)
1968 Elected delegate to the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach
1971 Chairs Labor for Heinz committee during H. John Heinz III’s campaign for Congress; Receives The New Pittsburgh Courier’s Top Hat Award
1973 Elected to the vestry, Calvary Episcopal Church (served until 1977)
1974 Becomes member, Pennsylvania Republican Leadership Committee; Elected vice president of the Hill House Association; Elected vice president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Society;
1975 Elected Pennsylvania committeewoman to the Republican National Committee; Joins Shadyside Hospital Foundation Board of Directors; Receives Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania award
1976 Elected delegate and selected as floor leader (for President Gerald Ford) at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Mo.; Cochairs Ford’s Pennsylvania campaign; Chairs Labor for Heinz during his U.S. Senate campaign
1977 Chairs “kitchen cabinet” for Doris Carson Williams’ run for Pittsburgh City Council
1978 Elected to the Executive Committee of RNC (serves until 1996); Co-chairs the primary campaign for Dick Thornburgh for Pennsylvania governor
1979 Chairs George H.W. Bush presidential campaign in Pennsylvania and serves on his national campaign steering committee
1980 Elected delegate to the Republican National Convention in Detroit
1982 Serves on the state steering committee, Heinz for Senate; Provides support for Tom Ridge’s run for Congress
1983 Chairs “kitchen cabinet” for Barbara Hafer in her run for Allegheny County commissioner
1984 Serves as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Dallas and as Pennsylvania’s Reagan-Bush reelection cochair; Begins serving on RNC’s Executive Council (serves until 1996)
1985 Elected vice chair, University of Pittsburgh’s newly established Cancer Institute
1986 Serves as state chair of Arlen Specter’s U.S. Senate campaign; Volunteers for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force
1987 Serves as general chair, Pennsylvania, George Bush for President Committee
1988 Elected delegate to the Republican National Convention in New Orleans and cochair of Pennsylvania delegation; Supports Hafer in her run for Pennsylvania auditor general; Chairs the Art for AIDS benefit, Persad Center
1989 Elected chair, Pennsylvania Electoral College
1990 Cochairs Barbara Hafer’s campaign for Pennsylvania governor
1992 Elected delegate to the Republican National Convention in Houston; Serves as general chair, Bush-Quayle ’92
1993 Helps to lead support for the passage of the Allegheny Regional Asset District legislation (Act 77 of 1993)
1994 Cochairs statewide steering committee of Ridge for Governor; Helps to form the Interfaith Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania
1996 Elected delegate to the Republican National Convention in San Diego and member of the Platform Committee; Retires as the longest-serving Pennsylvania Republican national committeewoman; Elsie Awards established at WQED Multimedia
1997 Cochairs the Regional Renaissance Initiative referendum campaign
1998 Cochairs Tom Ridge’s reelection campaign for governor; Helps to launch the National Republican Leadership Council; Cochairs Allegheny 2000 Home Rule referendum campaign; Cochairs Jim Roddey’s campaign for Allegheny County executive
2000 Elected delegate at large for Republican National Convention in Philadelphia; Joins the National Board of Republican Majority for Choice; Joins the Riverlife Task Force; Helps create the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University
2003 Cochairs Pittsburgh Financial Leadership Committee with U.S.X.'s David Roderick
2004 Cochairs Save Our Summers campaign to raise $1 million to reopen public swimming pools and recreation centers
2005 Helps lead row office reform referendum campaign in Allegheny County
2006 Cochairs William Scranton III’s primary campaign for Pennsylvania governor; Founds Run Baby Run, a bipartisan political action committee supporting women candidates for the state legislature; Establishes and chairs the board of the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation
2008 Helps launch the Neighbor-Aid campaign to meet health and human services needs; Receives the Leading Light Award from the International Women’s Forum; Serves as honorary cochair of Pittsburgh 250
2009 Receives the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award
2011 Receives the Forbes Funds’ Shapira Medal for Exemplary Leadership
2012 Receives the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Public Service (its inaugural award, named for Elsie Hillman)

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Hillman Study

Childhood visits to ancestral haunts in the West Sussex area of the UK, together with the stimulus of my father-in-law'€™s great interest in his aristocratic genealogy led me to look into the details of my own peasant "€œAgLab"€ origins. I started collecting information in the 1980s, which has now led to a mass of information on the surname worldwide, as well as information specifically from my own line in the West Grinstead area.

Variant names

The name almost certainly developed in multiple places resulting in numerous variations. The two main variants are Hillman and Illman, but the number of "€œl"€s and "€œn"€s, as well as the nature of the first vowel used, have also varied, resulting in Hilman, Ilman, Hylman, and even possibly Helman, Holman and Hulman. My focus to date has been on Hillman and Illman. In Europe it is possible that Hildman(n) and Helpfman(n) should also be recognised as variants.

Name origin

The surname Hillman can be found across the "€œGermanic arc"€ from Finland, through Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, France and England. It was also found in parts of Russia and Eastern Europe, and more recently as a Jewish family name. It is most unlikely that all these instances arose from the same origin.

The name has then been secondarily distributed by emigration from more than one of these sources to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and elsewhere, as well as more widely in the United Kingdom.

In England the earliest origin of the name can be seen in the Anglo-Saxon family names of "€œatte Hille"€ and "€œuppe Hille"€. In one Devon Family Tree both these names are recorded, along with Hillman for later generations. In some earlier documents the Latinised "€œad Montem"€ has been used followed by "€œate Hille"€ in brackets.

These all point to a simple topographical surname origin as applied to the man whose domicile was associated with a hill in an area. It has been postulated that it could also have arisen from "€œHill'€™s Man"€ i.e. the man working for one Mr Hill, but no clear evidence for this has yet been found. Clearly a topographical origin relating to the man who lived in, on, up, near or under a hill could have arisen in many places in England.

History of the name

Early records of the name indicate a degree of involvement as clerics with the church, but this probably results from those being the earliest written records with useful genealogical information. Later in time it is clear that most of the Hillmans of this world were humble workers on the land ("€œAgLabs"€), fishermen, workers in leather, and the like. Many instances of the name were then found in southern England, especially in Sussex, Kent, the London area, Devon, Wiltshire and Norfolk.
As emancipation progressed and the migration began from the land to industrial centres, so Hillmans appear as boat-people and coal-miners in Staffordshire and elsewhere in the industrial Midlands, as well as in Wales and Ireland. There was a notable solicitor Edward Hillman of Lewes, Sussex in the 1800s. At the end of the same century and into the next William Hillman came to prominence in Coventry making sewing machines, the first "€œPenny Farthing"€ bicycles, motorbikes and then the cars -€“ which tend to be the Hillman landmark for most people. In the 1930s Edward Henry Hillman transformed his Essex-wide bus company into the "€œinternational"€ Hillman'€™s Airways for a few glorious years, before he died and the airline was merged with two others as precursor to today'€™s British Airways.

Elsewhere in the world, Alfred Hillman was Assistant Surveyor-General in the 1830s of Western Australia. His journeys and discoveries did much for this infant "€œcolony"€, and a careful search will reveal both Lake Hillman, and the Hillman River named for him.

Hillmans had humble origins, and generally have stayed that way!

Distribution of the name
The British Surname Atlas, based on the 1881 Census, indicates a strong focus for the name at that time in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and London, with a further broad arc from Devon, through Somerset, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire. There is a light scattering of the name by this time across much of England south of Yorkshire. Illman alone is firmly restricted to the counties of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and the London area at this time.
Prior to this we have as yet no such country-wide survey to consult. The few pre-1600 records indicate earlier occurrences in Norfolk especially, together with Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, Suffolk, Kent, Dorset, Essex and London. Later records predominate in the south east and the west country like the 1881 Census map.

A large number of records of Hillmans and variants of the name have been amassed from numerous sources. However, this has not been systematic and there are large numbers of records still to be collated and analysed. I am willing to search what I do have for other people'€™s interests -€“ but do not expect miracles -€“ Hillman is quite a common name -€“ there were 2,575 in the 1881 Census alone! I have, so far, taken my own line back to Thomas Illman, born about 1690 in West Grinstead.
There are a few websites that include the Hillman name as a component of another family name interest. Marc Hillman in Australia has done useful research on his forbears from the London area.
Jesse Hillman

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Big Money, Big Questions
Thanks to Pittsburgh’s foundations, we survived the steel crash and fought our way out of the Great Recession. Now, after recent shakeups at some of the region’s major philanthropic organizations, what lies ahead in Pittsburgh’s big-monied world of giving
By Patrick Doyle

September 25, 2014


As dark clouds threatened thunderstorms, guests from the city’s political and philanthropic elite admired the renovated fountains, the touched-up bronze basins, the restored paving and a new addition — an elevated terrace above Smithfield Street that had been part of the original design but never previously completed. Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald were there, as were such nonprofit leaders as Meg Cheever of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Scott Izzo. So, too, were members of Pittsburgh’s storied families: Sandy and Seward Prosser Mellon attended, as did Henry Simonds, a member of the Hillman family and grandson of John Ormsby Simonds, one of the original designers of the park.

“It is a great symbol of public-private partnership and all the players who have to come together in Pittsburgh,” says Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and master of ceremonies for the rededication event. “A cool thing about Pittsburgh is that a new group can step in and take leadership, and government and foundations and businesses are willing to get together and look at it. I don’t know if that happens elsewhere, but I think it symbolizes the best of Pittsburgh.”

The Mellon Square gathering was significant for the presence of Mellon family members. It also represented a refreshing change after the upheaval experienced within Pittsburgh’s philanthropic scene over the past two years, when three of the city’s most prominent foundations announced intentions to shut down and the Heinz family turned over the leadership staff of The Heinz Endowments, leaving the area’s second-largest foundation without an executive director for a time.
And it begs the question: As Pittsburgh recasts itself as a cutting-edge American city, what does the future hold for our top foundations — and the storied families and companies behind them?

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Pittsburgh is blessed, almost uniquely among small American cities, with one of the strongest and wealthiest groups of foundations in the country. Today, more than 2,579 active foundations make their home in the Pittsburgh region, with total assets of $12.7 billion, according to the Foundation Center, a New York-based organization that tracks and analyzes philanthropy. The region’s total giving was $790 million in 2012, the most recent year for which those statistics are available from the center. And while the Steel City is the 25th-largest metropolitan region in the country, its community foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, is the nation’s 14th largest, with current assets of more than $1 billion. “We have a phenomenal group of contributors who built this city,” says Kevin Acklin, Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff. “Some cities have one singular organization — we have [dozens].”

A short history of modern Pittsburgh goes something like this: World War II kicked off Renaissance I, when leaders of local business created massive foundations to help drive urban development. A forerunner of The Heinz Endowments was created in 1941 after the death of Howard Heinz; the first Hillman Foundation was started in 1951. In 1947, meanwhile, Richard King Mellon started his eponymous foundation, which got to work on the original Mellon Square. During that period, Pittsburgh pioneered the creation of strong public-private partnerships and experienced growth and wealth.

That all came crashing down with the steel industry in the 1970s and ’80s. Since then, the region and foundations have spent the past three decades picking up the pieces and diversifying the economy around education, medicine and technology, giving rise to the idea that Pittsburgh’s relatively stable economy was propped up artificially by these foundations.

Philanthropic groups played major roles in economic expansion, and they continued to invest in the city in such areas as the Cultural District and the riverfront trails through Riverlife.

The Great Recession took a major chunk out of that growth. At the moment that the general public’s need was at its greatest due to job losses and the housing crash, endowments lost enormous amounts of money due to tumult in the market. While giving has gone up over the past few years both locally and nationally, many foundations still are struggling to reach their pre-recession heights.

Foundations and governments, in turn, have pressured nonprofits to trim expenses. They’ve also become far more discerning about where they donate their money, and many require impact analysis of their giving. It’s no longer good enough for your nonprofit to have a heart-warming goal — you have to prove that your mission will produce viable results, foundation leaders stress. Entities that once were silent funders now are taking on activist roles, demanding an accounting for how their funds are employed.

“The trend five years ago [for nonprofits was] to trim budgets, trim staff, trim expenses,” says Fred Thieman, president of the Buhl Foundation, which emphasizes a special concern for assisting people in Allegheny County — particularly in Pittsburgh and its North Side neighborhoods. “I think what we’re seeing today is organizations really needing to merge, consolidate and find creative, new revenue sources — or die.”

Even with those difficulties, Pittsburgh recovered relatively quickly from the Great Recession. By the end of 2012, the Brookings Institution reported that Pittsburgh was one of the first three U.S. cities to have bounced back, along with Dallas and Knoxville, Tenn. Today, young people are staying as well as migrating here because of well-paying jobs in the tech, education and health sectors.  

The region’s philanthropists now say we’re on the bleeding edge of a whole new era. “[In the past], we were always trying to get out from under the economic decline of the steel industry,” says one philanthropic leader who spoke anonymously due to foundation rules. “What’s changed is that in the past three or four years — after the recovery started — Pittsburgh has emerged as a pretty good place to live and to work. We’re not trying to dig our way out of the hole now. We can see over the edge, and we’re trying to figure out where to go.”

“I completely believe we are on the cusp of a new period of possibility in Pittsburgh,” says Grant Oliphant, who joined The Heinz Endowments as president in April after running The Pittsburgh Foundation for six years. “We have new leadership at both the city and county level, new leadership at the universities and a very different economic environment. Instead of having to beg for development, we’re beginning to see competition for development.”

Still, the bleeding edge can be a risky place to be. Is our region up to the challenge, and does it have the resources to sustain its reinvention?

New eras often are born amidst turnover and upheaval, and Pittsburgh’s philanthropic community is no different. In 2013, three of the city’s most prominent foundations — two of them among the dozen wealthiest — announced that they would be shutting the doors:

■ The Jack Buncher Foundation was created in 2001 following the death of Jack Buncher and was the 11th most-generous foundation in the region, according to the Foundation Center. It announced in February 2013 that it was slowly transferring its assets — worth $192 million in 2011 — to five other area nonprofits.

■ The McCune Foundation, which focuses on promoting economic and community development and was the fifth most-generous in the region in 2012, announced in March 2013 that it would be dispersing its remaining $343 million and shutting its doors in 2029.

■ In October 2013, the 85-year-old Falk Foundation, a group dedicated to social justice, decided to liquidate its $22 million endowment altogether.

To lose three foundations in a relatively short period of time was a bit of a shock, considering that the vast majority of U.S. family foundations operate in perpetuity. According to the Foundation Center, about 12 percent of private foundations have incorporated time limits into their structure. Gregory Curtis, the chairman and managing director of wealth management firm Greycourt and a former chairman of The Pittsburgh Foundation, speaks bluntly of a rationale for sunsetting: “You’ve had a very successful life. You set up a foundation. You want your kids to run it [or] maybe your grandkids to run it. But beyond that, you don’t know those people. You don’t know what their interests are — they could be diametrically opposed to yours.” But all three of the local foundations had good reasons behind their decisions.


Falk made the choice to close by giving $15 million to Chatham University’s School of Sustainability & the Environment to fund construction and create an academic environmental endowment at the university’s Eden Hall campus in Richland Township. The foundation also gave $2 million to the Sen. John Heinz History Center. That decision to shut down came in part because Sigo Falk, chairman of the foundation, is nearing age 80. Falk said he and others at the foundation determined the timing was right to close after contemplating the foundation’s soon-to-expire office lease and the difficulty of running an organization indefinitely.

The sunsetting of the McCune Foundation may have been the worst-kept secret in Pittsburgh’s philanthropic community — it was written into the foundation’s charter — but it still will hit the nonprofit community hard. Created in 1979 after the death of Charles McCune, the former president and chairman of Union National Bank of Pittsburgh, the McCune Foundation played a pivotal role as a connector for the philanthropic and nonprofit communities; it awarded $21 million in anonymous grants in 2012. “The further you get down the road from inception, there is a tendency over time for succeeding time and boards to change donor intent,” says foundation Executive Director Henry Beukema. “We surmise that Mr. McCune was aware of some of these trends when he wrote the instructions in the 1970s, and he thought 50 years would be enough — by limiting the foundation’s time span, he would be limiting mission creep.”

“I can’t say how much McCune’s role is important behind the scenes [to nonprofits],” says Kathy Buechel, who runs the Philanthropy Forum at the University of Pittsburgh and is a former president of the Alcoa Foundation. “Their concern for the region [is hard to match]. The McCune people share their ideas, serve as a sounding board and open doors to other groups.”
As part of its disbanding, McCune started a “Big Ideas” program of large grants aimed at transformative projects. Says Beukema, “We’re trying to transfer our DNA to others.”

The Jack Buncher Foundation also is passing along its assets in an effort to leave a permanent stamp on the community. Starting in 2008, the foundation began shifting its shares in Buncher Co. to five groups: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Foundation and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which is based in New York.

Those gifts, in effect, act as a massive, one-time injection of capital. Says John Denny, who worked for Elsie Hillman for three decades and is principal of a local nonprofit consulting firm, Denny Civic Solutions: “It means more money in the short term and less in the long term.”

The graceful handling of those closures unfolded in contrast to recent transition at The Heinz Endowments. In March 2013, The Heinz Endowments, along with the Environmental Defense Fund and Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation, announced it that was partnering with a consortium of oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron to create a Center for Sustainable Shale Development. Based in downtown Pittsburgh, the center was tasked with the goal of coming up with standards for natural gas drilling that even environmentalists could accept. Unfortunately, the environmentally minded Heinz family apparently was not in the loop for those plans — and apparently was not pleased.

As the Heinz family reasserted control of the organization, the endowments’ director of environmental programs, Caren Glotfelty, and its communications director, Douglas Root, both departed in August 2013. In October, President Robert Vagt announced that he, too, was stepping down; he later became chairman of the board of Rice Energy Inc., a natural gas and oil company in Washington County. Vagt declined and the other former leaders of the endowments did not respond to requests for interviews.

In June, after several months of searching for a new president, The Heinz Endowments hired an old hand, Grant Oliphant. The 53-year-old had worked for both Sen. John Heinz and the endowments before moving on to be president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, which he guided over six years to major success. A few months later, The Pittsburgh Foundation hired Maxwell King — the former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer who ran The Heinz Endowments from 1999 to 2008 — to replace Oliphant.

“The two of them will be a very formidable pair of leaders,” Flanagan says. “We’re going to see more leadership and more setting of the regional agenda by the foundations in the next 35 years than we did in the last 35 years. I look to them as driving a lot of [the conversation].”


Along with foundation closures and the recent controversy at Heinz, western Pennsylvania’s philanthropic community also is experiencing uncertainty due to generational change.

Its biggest and most obvious fear is that the younger generations of iconic Pittsburgh families no longer will be interested in investing their time — or money — into the region. Few of the grandchildren of Henry and Elsie Hillman live in the area, and the Mellons are spread around the country. While Teresa Heinz Kerry maintains a local home, her three sons do not.
That brings up the concern: Why would someone who wasn’t raised here or doesn’t live here want to pump money into Pittsburgh? Or perhaps, while the foundation benefactor cared about advancing education, the new board members could be far more concerned with environmental causes. “Many of the young people have other interests,” says the Philanthropy Forum’s Buechel, adding that each generation finds a way to define its philanthropy. “The hope is that they will continue to give in Pittsburgh because they see the difference their family has made. But it’s up to each generation to decide.”

Many founders of the largest Pittsburgh philanthropic efforts, thankfully, wrote a focus on the region into their very charters. The Richard King Mellon Foundation, for example, is charged to concentrate its giving in southwestern Pennsylvania; so, too, is Heinz. The Hillmans, meanwhile, have taken a novel approach to the future generations by splitting up their substantial wealth and funding a separate foundation for each of their children and grandchildren. Those smaller foundations can focus on anything — the Juliet Ashby Hillman foundation, for example, focuses on Portland, Ore. But the largest Hillman foundations control the vast majority of the wealth and are focused just on Pittsburgh.

“Most of the large foundations in Pittsburgh have a charter that they will focus primarily on the region,” says Oliphant. “It’s one of the outstanding things about philanthropy in western Pennsylvania.” Denny agrees: “Would it be great to have [the heirs] all here and still be doing all their work here? Yeah. But I don’t think it really changes much for those big foundations.”
And there is a bright side to generational change. “A lot of people who are program officers and in senior administrative positions are getting close to retirement age,” says Marilyn Coleman, a local nonprofit consultant. “When those changeovers happen, new people will bring new ideas.”

That’s already happening and expected to accelerate as a new leadership group steps in to run foundations, both on the boards and the staffs.

Gregg Behr, at age 42, is guiding the Grable Foundation to remake education in the city, drawing national acclaim and such honors such as a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award for its initiatives. The 40-something sons of John and Teresa Heinz — John, Andre and Christopher —  are now on the board of The Heinz Endowments and will play an increasingly larger role in the future, even if they aren’t local. (Some observers have suggested that Andre Heinz, a supporter of environmental causes, led the charge against involvement in the shale center.) Then, there’s the 53-year-old Oliphant, who now is in charge of The Heinz Endowments after a strong run at The Pittsburgh Foundation.

The most important next-generation leader in the city, though, isn’t on any boards — he’s the mayor. While former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for the most part did not engage the foundation community before he left office in December, his successor, Bill Peduto, 50, has hit the reset button on municipal-philanthropic relations, including holding quarterly meetings with the largest foundations.

“We are much more engaged with City Hall,” says Behr. “Already in the [Peduto administration’s] first few months, there is a reciprocal exchange of information and meetings with some of the new cabinet officers. In our unique experience, there is much more engagement and attention.”

Peduto also is trying to harness the foundations’ focus on innovation, partnering with The Pittsburgh Foundation on Talent City, a digital hiring board used for senior-level administrative positions, such as the public safety director, sustainability manager and communication director. Talent City screened resumes and conducted initial interviews before presenting its finalists to Peduto and his Chief of Staff Acklin, who committed to hiring from that pool. It was an unusual step for a politician — in many past administrations, such jobs often were patronage positions doled out to supporters and friends of the campaign. “It’s a break from the past,” says Acklin. “This city is not going to be governed by politics but by what is best for the city.” One of the hires from Talent City is Pittsburgh’s first-ever nonprofit and faith-based manager Betty Cruz, who will coordinate between the government and philanthropic community.

So what should we expect next?  Observers suggest we will see a new era in which foundations will operate differently in three key ways: approach, goals and new blood.

The approach will contain a more muscular and aggressive advocacy. Witness, for example, the high-profile campaign by The Heinz Endowments and other foundations to rescue the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, which at press time was on the verge of being scooped up by a private out-of-town developer with plans to redevelop it into a hotel. In August, the group of foundations, led by The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation, announced an alternate plan for the center that, in a statement, their leaders asserted would preserve the center as a “preeminent hub for African American arts and culture.” The consortium of foundations offered a “standby” bid of $7.2 million, which would include a $1.2 million contribution from the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority as well as $1 million in county-related funding, according to the statement. Should that bid prevail over the $9.5 million bid offered by New York developer 980 Liberty Partners, the foundations group said it would maintain support for the center’s operations and management but would transfer ownership of the center to The Pittsburgh Foundation, to be operated by a new, independent board of directors.

Also in August, Oliphant wrote a strongly worded opinion essay in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, arguing that the center’s sale to the private developer would “shatter the original intent of the center” and “throw away more than $35 million in government, foundation, corporate and private investment in what was always promised to be a charitable asset for the good of the whole community.”

That kind of public leadership isn’t totally unprecedented. In 2002, the organization partnered with the Grable and Pittsburgh foundations to cut off funds to the city school district for two years in what was then a rare and unusually public indictment of the district’s leadership. In the years since then, such advocacy has been more commonplace.

For example, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership and the United Way of Allegheny County have created the Campaign for What Works, an effort to reset the debate over support for children, the poor and the elderly. The groups have pushed the state to permanently fund the Aging Waiver Program, which provides home health services for the elderly, as well as rename the Department of Public Welfare as the Department of Human Services to more actively reflect its focus (welfare is a very small part of what the department actually does). Heading many of those efforts is The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Kevin Jenkins, a rising star who was rewarded with a new title at the beginning of this year — the vice president for public policy and civic leadership.

“Getting involved in advocacy, and lobbying on behalf of the issues that are important to their individual communities — this is a new move for the foundation community in many ways,” says Denny.

Local foundations see the focus on sustainability and people as major goals over the next few decades. When it comes to sustainability, the Hillman Foundation is pouring money into Traffic21, a program at Carnegie Mellon, to improve local transportation systems such as buses, biking and parking. And the prioritization of green building, open spaces and clean water and air will only continue.

Expect most attention to be paid to area residents. “Despite the area’s success over the past 10 to 15 years, there are plenty of pockets of people who have been left behind and not participating in the economy,” says the Allegheny Conference’s Flanagan. He points out that even with a flow of new transplants, the region still faces a shortage of workers in years ahead. “We really believe the whole issue of having plenty of prepared people will be the area’s biggest challenge going forward.”

Oliphant, now ensconced at The Heinz Endowments, says: “For me, 20 years from now, what I would like to see is a city that has set a new bar for excellence in sustainability and design in the new development. I would like to see a new model that people refer to as the ‘Pittsburgh Model’ for how we share the prosperity that comes from new development. Instead of gentrification, we get sharing of prosperity in neighborhoods.”

Who will take up the charge, though, when some of our foundations are disappearing? Our standbys will continue their support, but so will new foundations that are springing up. In 2011, steel industrialist William S. Dietrich II left a whopping $500 million to endow a new foundation after his death to plow into education, particularly at Carnegie Mellon and Pitt. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the gift was the second-largest in the United States that year.

“I am heartened that a spirit of philanthropy still seems to be strong in leadership circles,” Flanagan says. “To me, [Dietrich’s gift] was a signal that the Pittsburgh culture of giving back to the community and thinking about it even after you are gone is still here. And that gives me the confidence about where we are headed in the future.”

That confidence is supported by the success of other relatively new groups, such as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, to the philanthropic fold. Since its founding in 1996, the group has raised $74 million to restore the city’s parks, including Mellon Square. “I think Mellon Square is a nice metaphor for some of the changes we’ve seen in the city,” Oliphant says. “We’ve come back to a commitment to public space, but we’ve also come to a different paradigm to how to make those spaces useful and really integral to pedestrian life, and where people come and enjoy. I think the new Mellon park embodies that nicely while still honoring the past and the commitment to public space.

“It also tells you how far back the history of philanthropy goes in this town,” Oliphant continues. “It’s a poignant reminder that this work is the work of ages. Those of us who are involved in it are really privileged to be involved, but we’re also just temporary stewards of work that will continue well beyond when we are gone.” 


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Thanks to Pittsburgh’s foundations, we survived the steel crash and fought our way out of the Great Recession. Now, after recent shakeups at some of the region’s major philanthropic organizations, what lies ahead in Pittsburgh’s big-monied world of giving?

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The surname of HILLMAN was derived from the Old English word 'hieldmann' the dweller on the hillside, from residence beside the valley. The name was originally spelt as HILDEMUND, and was brought into England by the Normans during the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. Early records of the name mention William Hilman, 1273, County Huntingdonshire. John Hildman was documented in County Surrey in the year 1327. Edward Hilmanne was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377), and Thomas Hilman of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A later instance of the name includes Edmund Heredon who married Ellen Hillman at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, in the year 1586. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.

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Donors. Hillman Family Foundation. The Hillman Scholars Program was established in 2015 by the Hillman Family. This scholarship fund was created to provide financial assistance for College Bound St. Louis students applying to college. The Hillman family's vision is to provide gap funding for ...

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We now have used tires! We currently have a handful of 14, 15 and 16 inch tires, and are getting new tires in each week. $25 per tire (includes mount and balance.) Hillman Family Automotive's photo. Hillman Family Automotive added 2 new photos. We now have used tires! We currently have a handful ...
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