For more than a decade, the Southern Management Leadership Program has served to develop local community leaders through a scholarship and intensive mentoring program at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College and the University of Maryland. The program was founded by Suzanne Hillman (President and CEO of Southern Management Corporation) and the Hillman Family, as a way to enrich the education of students in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. These communities are where Southern Management got its start more than 50 years ago, and where the company’s deep roots have stood firm ever since. The mission of the Southern Management Leadership Program is to develop strong leaders, who will use their educations and experiences to make positive and lasting impacts in their hometowns.
“We have long been committed to being good corporate citizens where we do business. What better way to give back to our local communities than developing impactful, creative and inspiring local leaders,” said Suzanne Hillman. “We have witnessed wonderful success with this program as our students have graduated and gone on to be positive influences in our communities, and we look forward to celebrating many more future accomplishments,” Hillman added.
The Southern Management Leadership Program benefits the students in many ways – providing financial, academic and professional assistance. Scholarships for Southern Management Leaders account for 55% of tuition at either Montgomery College or Prince George’s Community College and up to 50% tuition at the University of Maryland. The students are also eligible to receive additional funds for books and other required technology and benefit from one-on-one advising and mentoring from dedicated Program Directors at each of the three schools.
Perhaps the single most important benefit to students in this unique program is access to the Southern Management Leadership Program network. So many alumni of this program have gone on to found successful companies, take on important business roles and become key leaders in their communities. The ability to network with this ever-expanding group of talented alumni is an extremely important asset to students. Alignment with Southern Management Corporation also provides access to the resources of a local, billion-dollar business with roughly 80 offices and more than 1,700 employees. Leveraging this relationship with Southern Management provides additional access to business professionals, various internship possibilities and valuable opportunities to develop professional relationships.
David Hillman, according to his wife Suzanne, “loved putting something together that no one else could.” When Mr. Hillman died in December of 2017, he left a long line of bereaved but also grateful recipients of his entrepreneurial spirit and generosity. Montgomery College is especially grateful for his vision and continued support of one of David’s remarkable accomplishments, the Southern Management Leadership Program (formerly the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program).
David, who grew up in Maryland, described himself as an ordinary high school student, not college bound, without clear aspirations and with no real sense of who he was. After graduating from high school, he worked for a developer as a bookkeeper and attended a non-accredited night school, where he took accounting courses. He took the CPA exam and, at the time, was the youngest person to pass on the first attempt, an indication of an innate talent that seemed hidden in high school. His experiences with managing other peoples’ accounts helped him realize his strengths and he began purchasing and managing his own property.
And then, in 1968, David Hillman founded his own company, Southern Management Corporation, which has since become the largest real estate management firm in the region. As CEO of Southern Management, he was named “Innovator of the Year” in 2002 for his creativity in developing attractive and livable communities through the rental units he built from dilapidated Baltimore buildings. David explained it this way: “Whether an apartment rents for $500 or $2,500, I want it to be the best that it can be. My litmus test is to ask myself: ‘If I lived here, would I be embarrassed for someone to visit me?’” The 27,000 Southern Management units in the metropolitan region have brought him great financial success, and it was his desire to give back to the very people who might live in his apartments that led him to establish the Hillman Entrepreneurs Program.
As CEO of Southern Management, David continued to be a leader always thinking about how to give some of his good fortune back to the community. Whether in his business or his philanthropy, he looked for bright young people with potential who, given proper support, can become successful, sometimes despite of challenging backgrounds. His goal for his scholarship recipients continues to be realized, as students receive the opportunity to pursue a college education, become entrepreneurial thinkers and, like him, give back to the community.
In December 2017, Suzanne Hillman was appointed by David Hillman to step up as CEO of Southern Management Corporation. In her career spanning three decades, Suzanne has worked with virtually every aspect of Southern’s business, gaining a broad perspective and expertise. Prior to becoming CEO, Suzanne was Southern’s Chief Financial Officer. She also serves as an officer, director and trustee for several of Southern’s affiliates.
Suzanne is a Washington, DC, native. She grew up in Northwest Washington and Montgomery County. After graduating from Walt Whitman High School, she attended American University, obtaining a B.S.B.A degree in accounting. As a licensed Certified Public Accountant, she has been a partner in Hillman & Glorioso and its predecessor firms for almost 30 years. Hillman & Glorioso is a boutique public accounting firm, specializing in business and financial consulting and tax practice for small and medium sized businesses, priority is real estate and finance industries. Suzanne has great expertise in business organization, internal controls, structural finance, and forensic accounting.
In her career, she has been a director of a federally chartered bank, serving as member of both the loan and the audit committees. For several years, she was a member of the Board of Trustees of American University (Washington, DC), where she was instrumental in developing the Kogod School of Business’ Vision and Mission Statements. She has been a member of the Board of The Washington Ballet, and has participated in many fund raising activities including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Suzanne resides in McLean, Virginia. A large part of her life is devoted to her family, which includes parents, adult siblings, adult children, grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.