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Message from Peter Laugharn: Reflecting on an Unforgettable Year

By Peter Laugharn, December 21, 2018

As we approach the end of 2018, we reflect on a year filled with a series of unforgettable moments: some moving, encouraging a sense of optimism, others deeply distressing, unlikely to be forgotten.

Some of these moments have left us with a sense of hope - others with more questions than answers.

On October 19, we convened over 300 people in person, and 62,000 people via Livestream from all over the world for the annual Hilton Humanitarian Symposium and Prize Ceremony to celebrate the 2018 recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize, SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities).

The theme of this year’s symposium was “The Future of Humanitarian Action: Resetting Our Moral Compass.” The daylong conference brings together thought leaders and humanitarians from around the world to explore the issues and opportunities that must be addressed to meet the most pressing humanitarian crises of today and tomorrow.

In the last months of 2018, we’ve seen a number of upsetting events that have challenged our sense of and optimism for hope.

On October 27, 11 people were killed during a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania. Just over a week later, an armed gunman walked into the Borderline Bar and Grill, just five miles from the Hilton Foundation headquarters, killing 12 people and wounding many more.

Within our Disaster Relief and Recovery program area, we seek to not only respond to the need for emergency response funding, but also to ensure that funds are available for longer-term recovery and building resilient communities. We work to help alleviate immediately the suffering caused by crises as well as invest in approaches that address long-term issues.

We took steps to respond in the immediate aftermath to these horrific events. In response to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, we authorized grants for the Jewish Federation’s Fund for Victims of Terror, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Loving Kindness, and for HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).

In the wake of the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill, we worked with neighboring organizations to launch the Conejo Valley Victims Fund at the Ventura County Community Foundation.

These mass shootings are horrific acts of violence and we know that they are local manifestations of a national phenomenon. As we look to 2019, which coincides with the Hilton Foundation’s 75th anniversary, we plan to take steps toward answering some of these questions and challenging leaders to look at resetting our moral compass, in an effort to rebuild trust in each other and restore hope for our country, and for the world.

We will be entering into a partnership with the Aspen Institute to initiate divide-crossing dialogues across in four communities across the United States, involving local and national philanthropic organizations. We realize that this is just one grant, but it has within it both ambition and hope. We remain hopeful and believe that philanthropy can be part of the solution.

We wish you happy holidays, and all the hope and ambition you will need in the New Year to keep making the world a better place.

Peter Laugharn Twitter

President and CEO

Peter Laugharn Twitter

President and CEO

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