Meeting minutes for the New Agency for the Hill District - later the Hill House Association, on which Elsie served as a board member, 1964. (Copyright: Hill House Association
Elsie (in gorilla suit) with Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri at the annual WQED Great TV Auction, c. 1970s.
Elsie Hillman (second from left) with members of Shadyside Hospital's Social Service Committee planning a benefit concert at the Syria Mosque, 1946. (Copyright: Smart Set Magazine and Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph)
Newspaper article covering the grand opening of the Hillman Cancer Center, October 14, 2002. (Copyright: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Not content to just participate in politics, Hillman’s career was also one of civic and community engagement. From a young age, brought up in a tradition of volunteerism, she began a career aimed at supporting, helping, and bettering the lives of others. She served on numerous boards of organizations including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Hill House, WQED, Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University), Chatham College, the University of Pittsburgh, and UPMC. A civic actor, she served with groups such as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Riverlife Task Force, the Pittsburgh Financial Leadership Commission, and the Citiparks “Save Our Summer” Program.
After her retirement as Republican National Committeewoman as well as Chair of the WQED Board of Directors, the Elsie Awards were established in 1996, following a tribute event to her “For the Love of Elsie.” Every two years, national and local community leaders and actors were honored – among them First Lady Barbara Bush, Frieda Shapira, Fred Rogers, Danish Comedian Victor Borge, Bill and Patti Burns, Rachel Melon Walton, and WQED alumnus Michael Keaton.
When the same fiscal crisis threatened city services, including the closing of city pools during the summer of 2004, Elsie was key in creating a fundraising campaign aimed at providing crucial financial assistance in form of “Save Our Summer.” With the help of donations both big and small, 16 city pools throughout Pittsburgh were able to remain open throughout the summer.