Conrad and Barron Hilton

A history of Hilton family philanthropy

Conrad N. Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels, established the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as a philanthropic trust in 1944. In 1950, the Foundation was legally established as a nonprofit corporation, separate from Hilton Hotels Corporation. Upon his death in 1979, Conrad Hilton left nearly his entire estate to the Hilton Foundation. His son, Barron Hilton, joined the Foundation in 1950 and served as board chair from 2007 to 2012. Over the years, he has contributed many millions to the work of the Foundation, and following his father's example, in 2007, Barron Hilton pledged to leave 97% of his estate to the Foundation. Steven M. Hilton, son of Barron and grandson of Conrad, joined the Foundation in 1983 and was named president in 1998, CEO in 2005, and chairman in 2012. Other Hilton family members serve on the Foundation board.

Founded on a genuine concern for less fortunate people

Conrad Hilton built a thriving global hotel enterprise, and throughout his life, his genuine concern for those less fortunate led him to charitable giving. He made personal gifts to benefit educational institutions and hospitality education programs, hospitals, programs affiliated with churches of various denominations, and—a group that had profoundly influenced him since childhood—the Catholic Sisters. From the Foundation's beginning until Conrad Hilton's death in 1979, we awarded $7.6 million in grants.

Conrad Hilton left virtually his entire estate to the Foundation. In his last will, he charged the Foundation to:

relieve the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute
shelter little children with the umbrella of your charity
support the Catholic Sisters, who devote their love and life's work for the good of mankind,
let there be no territorial, religious, or other color restrictions on your benefactions.

The last will leaves latitude for the board of directors to translate noble goals into specific, practical actions.

Charting a course to measurable impact

In 1981, the board elected Donald H. Hubbs to the Foundation's board of directors and named him president. An attorney and CPA, Hubbs had worked closely with both Conrad and Barron Hilton and had managed the Foundation since 1969 in his capacity as assistant secretary treasurer. He and the board charted the Foundation's course, implementing a major project approach while maintaining a steadfast loyalty to Conrad Hilton's intent. Hubbs served as chairman and CEO from 1998 until his retirement in 2005.

Barron Hilton, son of Conrad Hilton, has played a guiding role on the Foundation's board of directors since 1950. Following a successful career at the helm of Hilton Hotels Corporation, he served as chairman of the Foundation from 2007 to 2012. Like his father, Barron Hilton has committed his personal fortune to the Foundation. His contribution will surpass the initial amount that Conrad Hilton left to the Foundation, making Barron Hilton the organization's most significant donor. His leadership, together with his financial contributions, will enable the Foundation to significantly increase its impact well into the future.

Steven M. Hilton, grandson of Conrad Hilton, joined the Foundation staff in 1983 and was elected to the board of directors in 1989. In 1998, he became president, in 2005 his responsibilities expanded to include CEO, and in 2012 he was named chairman. Mentored by Barron Hilton and Donald Hubbs, Steve Hilton and the board of directors have led the Foundation to pursue deeper, field-specific expertise in our focus areas, and to take an active approach to increase our impact through partnerships with grantees, governments, corporations, and other foundations and funders.

Engaging new generations in the Hilton family legacy

In 2005, the board of directors resolved to ensure that direct descendants of our founder will forever constitute a majority of the board. The Foundation's Generations in Giving program was launched to cultivate the philanthropic spirit among successive generations of Hilton family members and prepare them for board service. Today's board of directors includes several generations of Hilton family members.