James Dondero, who is the president and co-founder of Highland Capital Management, L.P., is an unexpected philanthropist. Contrary to one’s expectations of a high profile and business savvy president in the financial industry, James Dondero is heavily involved in philanthropy. His primary focus is on education, healthcare, and veteran affairs. Make no mistake, Mr. Dondero was a high achieving student, and he graduated with a dual major in Accounting and Finance. James Dondero remains a driven individual, continuing to expand his business opportunities as he sees fit. However, he is equally willing and driven to help others.
James Dondero’s joint venture with business partner Mark Okada known as Highland Capital Management, L.P. has maintained the Highland Capital Management, L.P. Endowed Tower Scholars Program Fund at Southern Methodist University (SMU). The year the scholarship was initiated the company gifted two million dollars to the university. The Highland Capital Management, L.P.’s fund is one of several oriented towards the SMU Tower Scholars Program. The program is designed to recognize undergraduate students of a high caliber and offers immersive experiences in public policy making. The President of Highland Capital Management, L.P. stated that he and the company wished to give students the opportunity to work with influential policymakers and leaders on both a global and national scale.
James Dondero’s interest in the SMU Tower Scholars Program can be attributed to the parallels within his own to journey to success. Shortly after his graduation from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, Mr. Dondero began working under the Morgan Guaranty Training Program for financial analysts. The program offered real world experience and guidance, much like the Towers Scholar Program. The skills acquired in his time at the training program allowed Mr. Dondero to move swiftly onward to American Express, where he began his foray into fixed income funds, which would, in the ensuing years, lead to the success known as Highland Capital Management, L.P.
Never one to be satisfied by success, even in the world of charities, James Dondero continues forward with more programs oriented towards education. The Highland Santa Barbara Foundation, Inc. was formed as a supporting organization for the Santa Barbara Foundation. The foundation is directed towards facing challenges and embracing opportunities in the educational field. The foundation gives grants to non-profit organizations that focus primarily on education. James Dondero has participated in philanthropic activities beyond the educational world too. Highland Capital Management, L.P. s contributed to programs in healthcare, such as The American Heart Association as well as veteran related charities.
In a meager 30 years, James Dondero has risen from an analyst under the Morgan Guaranty Training Program to president of the world’s largest USD based collateralized loan obligation (CLO) manager. He continues to succeed as the Chairman of the Board for Nexbank, CCS Medical, and Cornerstone Health, and he’s an affiliated advisor of NexPoint Advisors, LP. Not content with simply pioneering a new sector in the financial world, Mr. Dondero has used his influence to better society through his strong stance on philanthropy. The many donations made to charitable foundations focused on education, health, and veterans will continue to better society with James Dondero at the head of Highland Capital Management, L.P.