When Jim Dondero and Mark Okada started Highland Capital Management in Dallas, in 1993, both men had a vision for the company. Dondero had an accounting and marketing background, and Okada was a numbers cruncher. Both men were considered experts in the financial industry in those days. They both had proven track records. The word on the street was Highland Capital Management was a good place for investors to park assets. Highland Capital Management was a safe place for investors because Dondero had a nose for finding hidden deals. Those deals took Dondero around the globe, so Highland Capital eventually opened offices in Sao Paulo, Singapore, New York, and Seoul. Today, Highland Capital has more than $16 billion in assets under management.
It’s no secret. Highland Capital Management is a very successful company. Dondero is Chairman of several corporations, and he is very active in the nonprofit sector in the Dallas area. Highland Capital’s charitable arm is the Dallas Foundation. The Dallas Foundation supports several high-profile organizations like the Dallas Zoo, The George W. Bush Library, the Family Place, and the Ross Perot Museum. Highland Capital gives millions of dollars every year to those organizations as well as other nonprofits that need help.
Charitable giving has always been a priority for Jim Dondero. But his other passion has been education. Jim is a graduate of the University of Virginia, but he has been very active on the campus of Southern Methodist University over the years. The Highland Capital Management endowment has helped hundreds of students over the years.
The Cox School of Business on the campus of SMU has benefited from Dondero’s involvement with the SMU. Business students and the faculty get a front row seat to the investment world when Dondero is asked to speak on campus. Jim is an expert in emerging market investing, and he shares some of his experiences in those markets during his speeches.
The Cox School of Business has a 100-member Executive Board that meets three times a year. The members recently added James Dondero to the Board. That’s an honor that Jim doesn’t take lightly.