According to his wife, Suzanne, David Hillman “loved putting something together that no one else could do.” When Mr. Hillman passed away in December, over 1,000 people in the community came together at a memorial celebration in his latest venture, The Hotel at University of Maryland, to remember him for all of the things he had “put together.”
Montgomery College students are especially grateful for one of these remarkable accomplishments: the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program, which expanded to the College in 2013 in partnership with the University of Maryland. The program, started in 2006 at Prince George’s Community College, enrolls approximately 30 students per year at MC. The students complete three years of intensive career and academic mentorship, entrepreneurial education, leadership development, and engagement with the local business community. In addition, the program provides these students with a partial scholarship to help them meet their financial obligations while, as Mr. Hillman would insist, “keeping some skin in the game.”
The 400-plus students who have already been part of the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program are already contributing to their community. Many students are working in highly competitive positions at major national and international firms; others have started their own businesses; and still others are enrolled in or have completed graduate school. In these ways and more, the light and vision of David Hillman live on. And, as the pool of Hillman graduates continues to grow, these students are coming back to their alma maters to support students who are moving toward their own academic and career goals.
Current Hillman Entrepreneurs, who look forward to starting their own career, expressed gratitude for the opportunities they are receiving as part of the program. For example, current MC Hillman student Sena Linsoussi said, “David Hillman was a great-hearted man. His legacy leaves a mark like none other on the Hillman students. I am grateful for the opportunity he gave me and the changes the program brought to my life. I hope to continue to grow as an entrepreneur and I am honored to be part of his entrepreneurial legacy.”
Hillman’s legacy includes Southern Management Corporation, which he founded in 1981. Southern Management is a major developer in the Washington metropolitan area and one of the largest owner-operated property management companies in the country. Through Southern Management, he also established Bear Creek Ski Lodge, The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, and many apartment complexes in the area.
Hillman entreated a recent class of his student entrepreneurs to “make waves, be a leader, take a chance—do it!” With this message and vision, the students are taking his words to heart. Speaking for all of the Hillman students, Montgomery College’s Branden Denchfield said, “As a student in the Hillman Program, I have seen firsthand the positive impact he has had on the community. I am proud to call myself a Hillman Entrepreneur and hope to continue his legacy through my entrepreneurial actions.”
(Top Photo: David and Suzanne Hillman, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard, and Montgomery College Hillman Entrepreneur Students)