James Dondero is the current CEO of Highland Capital Management in Dallas, Texas, but he is not a product of the local community per se. Dondero moved to Dallas and co-founded Highland Capital with partner and CIO Mark Okada in 1990. Even though Highland Capital Management is affiliated with investments around the globe, Dondero and his company still proudly call Dallas their home and headquarters with a track record of success that proves it. This is especially true of the company’s established philanthropic practices throughout central Texas spearheaded primarily by Dondero himself.
James Dondero is originally from the east coast where he graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1984. Dondero earned a dual degree in both accounting and finance at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce. He is also a Certified Management Accountant and a Chartered Financial Analyst. Dondero began his career by joineing American Express in 1985 where he served as a corporate bond analyst, eventually being assigned to portfolio manager of the $1 billion corporate fixed income fund. Before founding Highland Capital Management, Dondero would also serve as CIO for Protective Life’s GIV subsidiary. The fund increased in value by over $2 billion during his management term in 1989.
Dondero then moved to Dallas in 1990 with the specific idea of beginning his own investment management firm now known as Highland Capital. However, James Dondero’s professional hats do not stop there. He is a board member for several other corporations such as Nexbank, American Banknote Corporation, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios. These positions are in addition to his board seats at CCS Medical and Cornerstone Healthcare as well as Nexpoint Residential Trust, Inc. But, the real icon of the Dallas business community may very well be best known for his mission of philanthropy throughout the Dallas region.
Under the guidance of both Dondero and Okada, Highland Capital has launched a corporate program of giving back to the neighborhood in which they live by helping fund certain educational and community improvement projects in and around Dallas. Notable of their contributions is to the Dallas Zoo in conjunction with the Herbert Simmons Foundation in restoring the hippopotamus refuge at the city zoo that has been absent for many years. Highland Capital actually directed their charitable giving for the new auditorium that sits adjacent to the refuge that is used for specific educational and ceremonial events.