L to R: Donald Hubbs and Steve Hilton

We recently lost an honorable and gracious member of our Hilton Foundation community – a man who will go down in history for his contributions to the Foundation and to the nonprofit world at large. After a long, healthy and impactful life, Donald H. Hubbs passed away peacefully on April 20, 2021 at the age of 103. He virtuously served the Hilton Foundation for 36 years, holding the positions of president, chair and chief executive officer.

Mr. Hubbs led the Foundation with his vision as an innovative thinker in the field of philanthropy. Following the death of my grandfather Conrad N. Hilton in 1979, Mr. Hubbs diligently protected the intent of his last will and testament and prepared the Foundation to assume its place as a major philanthropic entity. 

In the Foundation’s first published annual report, he wrote, “The task of accomplishing some positive change in a complex and strife-ridden world is not an easy one, but we welcome it. As we embark on this era of expanded responsibility, we do so with the hope that we can build a strong foundation from which to carry out the wishes of our Founder, Conrad Nicholson Hilton.”

In 1982, he gained the support of the Foundation’s board of directors to adopt a proactive strategic approach to grantmaking rather than simply reacting to incoming requests. This long-term approach led to new grantmaking avenues that would have otherwise remained unexplored, and ultimately paved the way for the philanthropic approach that guides our work today. 

Over the years, Mr. Hubbs was a trusted advisor to my late father, Barron Hilton, and brother, Steve Hilton, as they each led the Foundation into new chapters. Steve built on the strategic approach to philanthropy that Mr. Hubbs introduced and carried it forward as president and CEO, then as chair, before stepping down late last year. I look forward to continuing this legacy of innovation and bold thinking in my new role as chair of the board.

We are profoundly grateful to Mr. Hubbs for his commitment, steadfast loyalty and integrity. I am personally grateful for his partnership and friendship with my family across so many generations. In his humble and dignified manner, he led by shining example and stayed the course to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world.

Hawley Hilton McAuliffe

Chair of the Board

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation