Donald H. Hubbs (1918 – 2021)

Assistant Secretary Treasurer 1969-1981

President 1981-1998

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer 1998-2005

Member, Board of Directors 1981-2005

Donald H. Hubbs was an instrumental figure in the history and development of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He joined the Foundation as assistant secretary treasurer in 1969 and served in various leadership roles—as Foundation president, chairman, and chief executive officer—in the 36 years that followed.

Setting a course

Following Conrad Hilton’s death in 1979, as the Foundation prepared to assume its place among the nation’s largest philanthropic institutions, Hubbs diligently protected the intent of the founder’s last will and charge to improve the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world. In concert with the board of directors, he began to translate noble, charitable goals into specific, practical actions.

Proactive grantmaking approach

Embodying Conrad Hilton’s motto, “think big, act big, dream big,” Hubbs’ leadership was characterized by initiative. In 1982 he gained the Foundation board’s support to adopt a proactive, major project approach to grantmaking, rather than simply reacting to incoming requests. Seeking to use Foundation resources to generate an impact extending far beyond the grant period, Hubbs took a long-term view, targeting areas that might have otherwise remained unexplored. In many ways, this proactive approach has influenced the Foundation’s ability to impact lives around the world. Some of the initiatives in which he played a key role include:

  • Establishment of the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters in 1986
  • Inauguration of the annual Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest humanitarian award, in 1996
  • Partnerships with charitable organizations to provide access to safe water, eradicate Guinea worm in Africa, and reduce the spread of trachoma in Africa and Asia
  • Long-term investment in educating visually impaired children with disabilities worldwide
  • Development and dissemination of Project ALERT, a nationally recognized curriculum to help middle school students resist substance abuse
  • Creation of a model state code, a state-of-the-art policy framework regarding domestic and family violence

Lifetime of achievement

Hubbs received a Purple Heart for his service as a U.S. Army lieutenant. A certified public accountant and attorney, Hubbs worked for 22 years as an accountant and also maintained a private law practice for more than 25 years.

He served on the board of directors of the Michael Alan Rosen Foundation and the board of counselors of USC Law School. Hubbs served as director emeritus of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as well as the BEST Foundation. He was a regent at Mount St. Mary’s College and a former president of Southern California Grantmakers. Hubbs received humanitarian awards from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Perkins School for the Blind, as well as an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Pepperdine University. In addition, a professorship is named for him at the University of Houston.