Remembering David Hillman, Founder and Benefactor of Hillman Entrepreneurs Program

David Hillman with Hillman program graduates

David Hillman (above center), founder and benefactor of Hillman Entrepreneurs Program at the University of Maryland, and the founder and CEO of Southern Management Corporation, passed away on December 27, 2017, at the age of 75. As leader of the region’s largest real estate management firm, Mr. Hillman was responsible for many buildings and apartments throughout the state of Maryland. At the University of Maryland, his legacy continues through the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, which supports the development of promising students who transfer from Prince George’s Community College and Montgomery College.

David Hillman was born in Washington, DC, and graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and Strayer College. Through Southern Management Corporation, Mr. Hillman had an impact on the development and rejuvenation of housing and public spaces in downtown Baltimore. Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, his wife and business partner Suzanne Hillman recognized his influence on the region, saying, “He was a change agent. He had a vision.”

A successful and visionary businessman, Mr. Hillman also possessed a generous philanthropic spirit. In 2006, the Hillman Family Foundation, together with the University of Maryland and Prince George’s Community College, created the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program. In 2013, the program expanded to include Montgomery College. County Executive Rushern L. Baker noted for PG Suite Magazine, “The impact on the thousands of young people he helped support and educate will far exceed his legacy as a businessman.”

The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program’s mission is to support, develop, and graduate ethical leaders who want to energize and give back to their local communities in their business pursuits. Minority, first-generation, and low-income students in particular face enormous challenges to complete their education successfully and launch viable careers. The Hillman Entrepreneurs Program enables these students to reach their educational goals and become leaders in their communities.

David Hillman’s effect on Hillman Entrepreneur students and graduates was profound. Iliana Hernandez, a 2016 Hillman graduate who now teaches math and science in Baltimore City Public Schools, recounts, “Every encounter I had with Mr. Hillman was a great experience. He would brighten up the room with his positivity and passion … [He] left my peers and me inspired by the guidance that he provided us with in each conversation.”

Deonte Smith, a current business analyst and a 2015 Hillman graduate, describes Mr. Hillman’s entrepreneurial spirit: “Mr. Hillman was thinking beyond today and looking to tomorrow. His giving heart, his fearlessness, his ability to inspire people, and his visionary mindset are qualities we can all learn from him.”

For sisters Chandra and Changudra Smith, Mr. Hillman changed their lives and set an example to follow. They write, “Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered financial and academic challenges but has also helped us realize the value of a college education. We wholeheartedly thank [Mr. Hillman] for the scholarship that not only made our educational dreams possible but a reality.” They add, “We will continue your legacy of helping the less fortunate and under-represented.”

Lindsay Martin, a 2015 graduate now working in the U.S. Intelligence field says, “Words cannot begin to express my level of appreciation for Mr. Hillman’s original vision: a gateway to higher education for non-traditional students.” She continues, “I just hope that I may pay it forward and honor your legacy.”

David Hillman’s generosity, warmth, and dedication to his community will be greatly missed by everyone involved with the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program.