Westlake Village, Calif. (October 1, 2020) — The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that its long-time board chair and previous CEO Steven M. Hilton will retire from the board on December 31, 2020. The board of directors has elected Hawley Hilton McAuliffe as the next board chair, and Linda Hilton as vice chair.
Steve Hilton has, for 35 years, served the organization that bears his grandfather’s name. Following an early career in the family’s hospitality business, he joined the Hilton Foundation in 1983 as an entry-level program assistant, and in 1986 was promoted to program associate. In 1987, he took a two-year leave of absence to obtain an MBA at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, then returned to the Foundation in 1989 as the vice president of programs and was elected to the board. He was named the Foundation’s president in 1998, and its chief executive officer in 2005, a role retired from in 2015. He has chaired the board since 2012.
“I am deeply honored to have been given the opportunity to lead and help shape the philanthropic legacy of both my grandfather, Conrad Hilton, who established the Foundation in 1944, and my father, Barron Hilton, who pledged virtually his entire estate to the Foundation,” shared Steve Hilton. “Seeing firsthand the positive impact that the Foundation’s grants have had on communities has touched my heart and soul. I am deeply grateful to our board of directors, including those family members who serve on the board, the committed expertise of our Foundation staff, and the selfless work of our grantee partners whose day-to-day efforts directly improves the lives of millions around the world.”
Steve Hilton oversaw the growth of the Foundation’s assets from approximately $2.9 billion to $6.6 billion with the passing of his father, Barron Hilton, in September 2019. Barron Hilton pledged nearly his entire estate to the Foundation, just as his father, Conrad, had done.
“Steve is a gifted leader and an extraordinary human being. He’s the kind of person you hope to not only meet in your life but to learn from while working shoulder-to-shoulder. He’s generous, compassionate, and visionary, and he knows this organization inside and out – not just the work, but the people,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Hilton Foundation. “From his early days on the program staff to leading the organization for more than 20 years, Steve has embedded the vision, values, and ethos of his grandfather Conrad, and his father Barron, into our work and culture. We owe Steve a debt of gratitude for his monumental contributions and wish him every joy and adventure in retirement.”
Hawley Hilton McAuliffe will lead the Foundation as the fifth board chair in its 76-year history. She joined the board as a director in 2006 and is profoundly engaged in improving the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world. She serves on the international jury that selects the annual Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and played a pivotal role on the governing board of the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters. Her current board positions include chair of the Prize committee, vice chair of the Board Executive Committee, and member of the Nominating and Generation in Giving committees. Hawley is a sister to Steven, a daughter of Barron, and granddaughter of Conrad N. Hilton.
Hawley is an active, community-based volunteer and philanthropist. She has worked on behalf of many organizations, including the Archdiocese of New York, Irvington House, New York Lying-In Hospital and Theatreworks USA, as well as a hospice volunteer in New York and Florida. McAuliffe serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for the elderly at Parsonage Cottage and at St. Roch’s Church in Greenwich, Connecticut. She also serves as a co-chair for the Order of Malta in southeast Florida, where she organizes spiritual activities and meal service for those in need through St. Ann’s Place. Having a passion for horticulture and photography, McAuliffe served on the boards of the Grass River Garden Club in Delray Beach, Fla., and Hortulus in Greenwich, Conn., and she is an emeritus judge of the Garden Club of America.
“I am so pleased to work with Hawley as she becomes the board chair and to have a women-led team,” continued Laugharn. “Hawley brings power in her quiet confidence and makes outstanding contributions as a board member. She has spent her entire adult life engaging in the kind of grounded work that meaningfully changes people’s daily lives. Hawley carries a ground-level, human-centered view based on her experiences serving people in communities, making sure they don’t go hungry and that they have the spiritual support to help them get through difficult days. Her thoughtful, humanitarian approach will strengthen our work and guide us to create an opportunity for people worldwide.”
The Foundation also established a vice chair position for the board of trustees and elected Linda Hilton, who joined the board as a director in 2014. Hilton is a granddaughter of Conrad N. Hilton, and a daughter of Eric Hilton, who served on the board from 1971 until he died in 2016. She currently chairs the Foundation’s Talent and Compensation Committee and serves on the Program and Nominating Committees and the Generation in Giving program. She also serves on the board of the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters.
Linda Hilton is a nationally recognized, award-winning sales leader in the hospitality industry. She began her career with Hilton Worldwide in 1987, when it was still family-owned, and stayed with the company after Blackstone acquired it in 2006. She also serves on the Hilton Effect Advisory Committee for Hilton Hotels.
“Linda’s exceptional commitment to supporting other people started early,” said Laugharn. “Before she was out of college, she worked on behalf of people with disabilities, supporting arts and culture organizations, and leading efforts for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and American Heart Association. She brings to this new leadership role the ability to speak both philanthropy and business, and her experience and perspective are invaluable as our organization grows and changes.”
“It’s bittersweet for me that my brother Steve will no longer be our chair,” said Hawley Hilton McAuliffe. “His leadership, accomplishments, and commitment over the past years have strengthened the Foundation. It is daunting to follow not only in Steve’s footsteps but also those of my father, whose memory we honor on the first anniversary of his passing. I am confident that with Linda by my side, we will continue to lead the board in fulfilling the wishes of Conrad and Barron. It is the values of integrity, thinking big, humility, stewardship and compassion applied through a lens of equity that will be our North Star. We will follow in their vision of achieving a future that leaves no one behind.”
“Serving on the board of directors for the Hilton Foundation has been a great honor and an experience I am grateful for each day,” said Linda Hilton. “My father Eric Hilton served on the board for 45 years, and the work of the Foundation meant the world to him. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with both family members and philanthropic leaders globally and to serve the Foundation in this leadership role.”
The board of directors comprises a majority of Hilton family members. The board elects its directors, sets broad policy related to the Foundation’s direction, including grantmaking and investing, provides oversight on strategic endeavors, and helps ensure Conrad Hilton’s original vision. This is the full roster of the Hilton Foundation board of directors.