When James Dondero founded Highland Capital Management in the early 1990s, he made Dallas his new home. But the city did not just become the place where he lived. Dondero had a desire to make Dallas the best city possible for all its residents. To that end, he has involved himself and Highland in numerous charitable endeavors. One of the most effective ways James Dondero helps out the people of Dallas is thanks to his relationship with Mary Jalonick, the President and CEO of The Dallas Foundation.
Through their partnership, they formed Highland Dallas Foundation Inc., with Dondero committing nearly $3 million annually to charitable causes. Much of their focus is on veterans, education, and health care. James Dondero’s philanthropic efforts have also led him to contribute money to The Family Place, which aids men who are victims of domestic violence. James Dondero’s involvement in this cause came as a result of a plea from both Dallas’s mayor and one of its former police chiefs for the community to do more to combat domestic violence.
Because of Dondero’s efforts, the Family Place became the first domestic violence shelter in Texas with services geared specifically toward men and their children. Dondero’s philanthropy has extended to the Dallas Zoo. Following the death of the zoo’s hippopotamus, the habitat was shut down. But Dondero donated $1 million for upgrades to be made to the habitat so the zoo can bring in another hippo. Other features of the habitat include the Highland Hippo Hut to educate zoo visitors on conservation efforts involving hippos.