After a long, illustrious career, James Dondero co-founded his own firm and is now the president of that firm. The firm is Highland Capital Management, and it specializes in high-yield and distressed investing. He is also at the forefront of the firm’s collateralized loan obligation or CLO market. Highland Capital Management is in the business of offering its clients CLOs, ETFs, REITs, mutual funds, private equity funds and hedge funds.
After James Dondero opened Highland Capital Management in 1993, he became a big deal in the alternative credit industry. Today, the firm is assisting private investors with their distressed accounts, equity accounts, credit hedge funds and long-only funds, but he is interested in more than just alternative credit.
The Dallas Zoo and Hippopotami
James Dondero is also a philanthropist. He is passionate about his community, and this fact is very apparent. In 2001, Dallas residents learned that the hippopotamus habitat would close at the Dallas Zoo that year. The authorities decided that the habitat needed to close because one of the hippos died there. Today, the hippopotamus habitat is back, and Dallas has Mr. Dondero to thank for it.
The community did not take the news of losing their hippopotami lightly, so they vociferously put up a fight to keep them. Zoo managers relented and decided to rebuild the habitat. They estimated that the project would require $14 million, and James Dondero donated $1 million. Hippos at the Dallas Zoo are currently living in the Highland Capital Lodge.
The Highland Capital Lodge shows everyone that Mr. Dondero and his firm care deeply about the community, and he continues to demonstrate this fact by contributing to other projects that take Dallas in a positive direction.
Other Worthy Organizations
The firm and Mr. Dondero became benefactors for the Southern Methodist University’s Tower Scholars program, the Education is Freedom Charity, the Perot Museum of Natural Science and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute.
Mr. Dondero is so committed to philanthropy that he joins forces with others to have an even greater impact. Mary Jalonik is the CEO and president of The Dallas Foundation, and her business is finding charities in need of donations. Since she got together with Mr. Dondero, her foundation received more than $3 million from him.
Mr. Dondero’s new association with Ms. Jalonik gave him the opportunity to spread his philanthropic wings even wider. Together, Mr. Dondero and Ms. Jalonik founded the “Highland Dallas Foundation.” This organization is going to increase Mr. Dondero’s charitable giving. Some of the organizations that he already agreed to support are military veterans, students and civic organizations. The grants he presents to the many deserving entities on his giving list ensure that he is donating to one group or another all year long.
Mr. Dondero encouraged Linda Owen of The Dallas Foundation to join his team, and she is now in charge of informing him when she comes across nonprofit agencies that direct their attention toward improving conditions in Northern Texas. This partnership had the impact that Mr. Dondero hoped that it would have, and Highland Capital Management is now assisting a charity that helps victims of domestic violence called “The Family Place.”
Mr. Dondero chose the Dallas Zoo to be the location where he would hold a special Mother’s Day gathering. The guests donated money that he donated to the people living at The Family Place. This was on top of the money that he would ordinarily donate to this organization. Mr. Dondero wants to make sure that everyone knows that Dallas is a city where residents enjoy working, going to school and living with friendship and understanding.