James Dondero has had quite an impressive career trajectory over the past few decades. After graduating from the University of Virginia with degrees in accounting and finance, he went to work for JP Morgan. While there, he received four years of investment experience before he began working for American Express, where he primarily managed fixed income funds. However, it was while with the firm that he was exposed to the world of alternative credit strategies, which he previously didn’t have any experience in.
Despite this, he was able to develop a significant amount of expertise in the niche, which led to Jim Dondero receiving a variety of promotions. This eventually culminated in him becoming Protective Life’s GIC subsidiary’s CIO in 1989. After several years in the role, however, Dondero had a desire to establish a firm of his own. While this is something that he had felt for several years, it was in 1993 when he decided to take the plunge.
As a result, James Dondero founded Highland Capital Management alongside investment banker Mark Okada. In the years that followed this, the pair were able to expand the company quite quickly, with much of this following a move to Dallas from Los Angeles. In the decades since then, Highland Capital Management has become one of the largest investment firms in the country, managing over $17 billion in assets.
Alongside this, the company has expanded to have offices in a variety of locations, including Seoul, Sao Paolo, New York, and Singapore. While Jim Dondero is perhaps best known for his role with the company, he has also been involved in a variety of philanthropic activities. Though much of this is done through the Highland Dallas Foundation, he has also supported non-profits away from the company.
Some of the most notable of these include the Southern Methodist University’s Bush Center and the University of Texas Center for BrainHealth. Alongside this, he has been involved with the Dallas Zoo for a considerable amount of time and has raised a significant amount of money for a variety of animal habitats. Throughout this time, he has also supported the Dallas Symphony, among others.