She prefers to focus on getting the job done rather than on who gets the credit.
She’s created hundreds of jobs during her lifetime as a for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneur.
Not surprisingly, Lyda Hill says her greatest satisfaction comes from “making it happen.”
Based on the impressive list of public and business awards and accolades she has earned, this Colorado Springs and Dallas resident has indeed made it happen.
Her credits include selection as the first woman member of the Young President’s Organization in 1975. At the time of her nomination, Hill was the head of a $2 million-plus company with at least 50 employees.
Hill started a travel agency from ground up. It became the largest agency of its kind in Texas and internationally. The company’s clientele included successful oil and gas executives interested in getting better acquainted with the country’s best ski slopes and resort destinations.
“I was in charge of developing business and meeting with CEOs – and I also delivered tickets back then,” she recalled.
The successful entrepreneur eventually transitioned from running a travel agency to managing other family owned businesses, including Colorado Springs’ Seven Falls, Kissing Camels Estates land development and the Garden of the Gods Club.
“My sister and brother and I all started out as youngsters working at Seven Falls in the summers. I sold hot dogs, my sister was hired to open the door to the cafeteria and my brother put bumper stickers on cars,” she said.
Hill’s resume is filled with top level civic leadership credits.
She serves as a lifetime honorary member of the Visiting Nurses Association, M.D. Anderson Board of Visitors, the Crystal Ball Advisory Committee, Garden of the Gods Foundation and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Friends of the Department of Human Nutrition.
Past credits include Chamber of Com­merce, Easter Seals, Junior League, Heart Association, and an appointment to President Reagan’s Advisory Board for Private Sector Initiatives from 1986-1989.
“He [President Reagan] asked me to participate because I helped start a program called the Volunteer Connection,” Hill said. The initiative utilized television to solicit volunteers for nonprofit positions, spurring sign-ups and winning high praise from city, state and national officials.
Her business achievements are equally stellar and include participation in the World Young Professional’s Organization, the International Women’s Forum and several Texas-based executive organizations.
Hill is an active spokesman for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1970s and dealt with a reoccurrence in 1984. “Back then all they offered was surgery,” she said.
Perhaps as a result of that experience, Hill decided to partner with an Oklahoma City doctor to start the city’s first mammography center. The for-profit clinic was specially designed as a drop-in, non-hospital center for women referred by their doctors.
Asked which of her many projects she has found the most rewarding, Hill singles out the Garden of the Gods Foundation and its for-profit Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center.
“In our first 10 years as a foundation, we’ve covered expenses and raised over $1.1 million for improvements and educational programs for the Garden of the Gods,” she said. In 2005, an additional $150,000-plus was raised through a “Summer of Celebration,” conceived of and promoted by Hill and a hand-selected committee.
Laura Muir, owner of Momentum Mar­keting worked with Hill to promote a series of events ranging from lectures at Colorado College to a bike tour, walk/run, gala and garden tour.
“In working with Lyda, you realize how deeply committed she is to preserving the Garden of the Gods,” Muir said. “The burnished-orange rocks are her favorite color. She worked tirelessly on the Summer of Celebration, sending e-mails even when she was traveling and motivating us with her energy. You can tell how much she genuinely loves the Park.”
Money raised this year will be used for numerous projects, including a $40,000 revegetation program, a volunteer coordinator, trail signage and more – things that the city park simply could not afford on its city-approved budget.
Hill was nominated for Women of Influence by Lana Yeakel, president of U.S. Bank downtown. Yeakel credits Hill with inspiring an ongoing legacy through her work as founder of the Garden of the Gods Foundation.
“She has done so much to help this community,” Yeakel said.
Hill admits her motivation to step up and make a difference was an ethic instilled early in life by her parents.
“Volunteering has never been considered ‘optional’ in my family,” she said.
Becky Hurley