TITLE: President and CEO
FUNDING AREAS: Education, journalism, veterans, and civic programs
CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)
IP TAKE: Chicago insider and power player Hiller has a lot of clout in the city. A Chicago native and Harvard Law School grad, he spent years as a corporate lawyer downtown, and then nearly two decades as a heavyweight at the Chicago Tribune.
PROFILE: Following a turbulent two years as head of the Los Angeles Times as the paper was shedding staff, David D. Hiller returned to Chicago to become president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in July 2009.
A longtime friend and former squash partner of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Hiller serves on numerous boards: the Chicago History Museum, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, The Field Museum, and Roosevelt University. He is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, Metropolitan Planning Council, and Chicago Council on Global Affairs. However you look at it, Hiller is a very powerful person to be leading McCormick and mobilizing its wealth to fight for the city's disadvantaged.
Hiller's prior work in the interactive newspaper and television markets leads him to support organizations related to emerging media outlets and journalistic endeavors. Since Hiller joined the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, organizations like Chicago Public Media Inc. and We the People Media have won major grants.
"With the changes that the news media are going through, a question of our focus is what role can the foundation play helpfully in the future of news and media," Hiller commented around the time he took office. "Business as usual in terms of anything about the industry, including foundation support for the field, should be looked at... The challenge at the present time is not as much the education and training of professional journalists, it's the role of news and news media in the broader civic literacy of the population."
Early childhood education has been Hiller's other largest focus during his time in office. McCormick has made regular contributions to a wide range of organizations in this area, including Ounce of Prevention and the Erikson Institute. Hiller said in the same interview:
You look at an area like early childhood education and you look at the work of the foundation and its partners in Illinois. Grantees like the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Erickson Institute are doing some of the most important work across the whole country in the field, and now [Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan is taking a lot of that experience with him to Washington. So there's an area where the wind is now catching in the sails and we need to look at what should be the next generation of support in that area.
Despite the company he keeps at the gym, Hiller has been described as a social liberal with a conservative view on economic issues. If you're part of a well-established non-profit organization in the journalism world or the early childhood education arena, then you just may have a chance at funding with McCormick. And with McCormick's assets exceeding $1 billion, the likelihood of that happening is getting better and better.
Underrepresented and underserved Chicago communities especially seem to be what Hiller is looking for, and he writes passionately about the ways to build and support these communities through high-quality early care and education. He also looks to serve these communities through media initiatives. Take for example, the city's Local Reporting Initiative, which aims to increase media coverage of everything from Section 8 housing to LGBT imprisonment to youth homicide on Chicago's low-income South and West sides. Along with the Chicago Community Trust and MacArthur Foundation, McCormick has been one of the largest and most continuous supporters of this and other similar projects.
Since Hiller's direct contact information is not publicly available, the best way to reach him is through the tried-and-true channels. For general inquiries, the foundation offices can be reached by phone at 312-445-5000 or email at email@example.com. To apply for a grant, make sure to review McCormick's grantmaking guidelines and submit a two- to three-page letter describing your organization's mission, the amount of funding requested, and the nature and purpose of the proposed program or project. Inquiries are reviewed on a monthly basis and may be sent to Andrea Jett Fletcher via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get some insights about his laid-back personality and joking mannerisms, check out this video taken from the City Club of Chicago on June 30, 2010.