Elsie Hillman’s Philanthropic Impact on Pittsburgh

Last month, Elsie Hillman, an extraordinary political activist and philanthropist, passed away at age 89. She was a Republican National Committeewoman most notably assisting in the 1988 election of George H. W. Bush and the 1994 election of Tom Ridge as governor of Pennsylvania. While her accomplishments and investments as a political activist are remembered forefront, her kind-hearted and caring demeanor will never be forgotten. Hillman has done numerous amounts of philanthropic work for the Western Pennsylvania region that extends across the country.

Elsie Hillman was raised in Pittsburgh and taught she has an obligation to serve others, even as a young girl. Elsie volunteered by cleaning surgical instruments at Eye and Ear Hospital, selling war bonds, and knitting socks for soldiers. Through the coming years, she would dedicate time to Pittsburgh notables like the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, WQED, Carnegie Museum, Carlow University, Shadyside Hospital Foundation, and many more.

Hillman was also very serious about was cancer research. In 1985, she became Vice Chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and would later open the Hillman Cancer Center in 2002. The Hillman Cancer Center is the core of UPMC’s cancer-related services offering treatment facilities, disease-specific specialty care centers, an education center, a center for the prevention and early detection of cancer, and the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers.

She was a trustee of the Hillman Family Foundations, the administrative and program office for the 18 named Foundations associated with the Hillman family. Most of these foundations, such as the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation founded in 2006, have a goal to improve the quality of life in Pittsburgh and the SW Pennsylvania region. However, some foundations extend the cause to Portland, New York City, Boulder, San Francisco and more.

Her passing comes with great sorrow as her political and community work has affected so many people in the Pittsburgh family.

Grace Rzodkiewicz  || Pittsburgh Office


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