Last month, my father, at the age of 87, graciously stepped down from the board of directors of the Foundation, signaling the end of an era. He was the Foundation’s longest serving board member, having joined in 1950, the same year I was born. Under his leadership, both Hilton Hotels Corporation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation soared to new heights.
When Barron Hilton became president and CEO of Hilton Hotels in 1966, the company had 50 hotels with 28,500 rooms and five hotels under construction. When sold in 2007, it had expanded to close to 3,000 hotels and 490,000 rooms located in 76 countries and territories.
In The Hilton Legacy: Serving Humanity Worldwide, my father shared lessons he had learned during his 50 years at Hilton Hotels, that he felt could apply to the Foundation:
- Esprit de corps
Just as he grew the hotel company, my father also grew the Foundation—which had awarded a total of $7.6 million in grants from inception until Conrad Hilton’s death in 1979. We now give away approximately $100 million annually and last year surpassed the milestone of $1 billion in grants since inception. It is due in large part to my father’s leadership, guidance and dedication that the Foundation has grown into what it has become today. Lastly, my father’s past financial gifts and his commitment to leave the bulk of his estate to the Foundation will ensure the continuing philanthropic legacy of the Hilton family for many years to come. On behalf of the organization and our family, I thank my father for his generosity and devotion to our work.