Some people like to say Dallas is the heart of Texas. Dallas makes Texas look great because everything seems bigger and better in this modern metropolis. The Dallasites say the city has better Tex-Mex food, bigger football games, and great colleges. They also say the city is the home of hot business deals and big non-profit donations.
Those things are just a few of the things that make the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area special for the 7.2 million people that call that part of Texas their home. Let’s not forget the massive Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the Dallas Symphony, The Dallas Museum of Art, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. All of those attractions, plus the Dallas Zoo, and the fact that twenty-two of the top Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in this amazing city give Dallas bragging rights when other Texas cities try to one-up this cowboy hat wearing city.
There’s something else that makes Dallas such an incredible place to live. Highland Capital Management, one of the top investment firms in the United States calls Dallas home. One of the founders of Highland Capital Management, James Dondero doesn’t just call Dallas home. He calls it his pet project. That may sound strange, but it’s true. Jim Dondero is a hedge fund investor, but he is also one of the city most recognizable philanthropists. Jim and his partner Mark Okada believe in giving back and paying forward the success they enjoy. The two men started helping investors understand alternative asset management in 1993. The company now has more than $17 billion in assets under management. With offices in Seoul, Sao Paulo, Singapore and New York, Highland Capital helps investors find assets in countries that are on the verge of having foreign and domestic economic success.
Jim takes care of asset management for the firm and Okada is the company’s CFO. But Jim Dondero and his team at Highland Capital are not one-dimensional city and business leaders. Dondero is involved with and donates to, Southern Methodist University’s Bush Center as well as the University of Texas Center for BrainHealth. The Center for BrainHealth helps veterans recover so they can live fruitful lives. James Dondero and Highland Capital Management are premier Dallas Zoo donors, but Dondero and his team also donate and participate in the well-being of just about every other major non-profit in the Dallas area.
The Center for BrainHealth now has the funds thanks to Dondero to open the Brain Performance Institute’s Warrior Training Program. The Warrior Training Program uses Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART) to help vets retrain the brain to function effectively. Highland Capital’s $1 million gift ensures veterans and their families get the care they need while they take part in the Warrior Training Program.
Thirty-four years ago, James Dondero was finishing his studies at the University of Virginia. He knew he wanted to be part of the investment industry so he went to work for American Express. He spent four years at American Express before he became Protective Life’s GIC Subsidiary’s the chief investment officer. Dondero put that company on the investment map from 1989 to 1993.
Mr. Dondero is also responsible for establishing the Highland Dallas Foundation. That foundation works with the president and CEO of the Dallas Foundation, Mary Jalonick. Highland Capital grants help Dallasites who need help every year recovering from the issues that hinder their growth in Dallas society. One of the non-profits that Dondero believes in is the Family Place. The Family Place is a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Jim Dondero’s Highland Capital Management is an example of what companies can do when they have the funds to help others. Mr. Dondero believes everyone should enjoy life, and he makes sure his community gets the help it needs to be the heart of Texas.