As an undergraduate, Maria Hilton served on the U-Council and Priorities Committee, which “opened my eyes to the importance of Annual Giving. The flexibility of AG enables Princeton to be a leader in so many ways.”
As an alumna, she has been the special gifts chair for her class’s 15th and 20th reunions, and participation chair for their 25th Reunion. She is proud that the Class of 1989 received the 1926 Trophy on Alumni Day 2015, awarded to the class that raised the largest amount for Annual Giving. She has also served on her local schools committee.
After coming to Princeton from Campolindo High School in Moraga, California, Hilton majored in history and earned a certificate in American studies. She believes that Princeton’s focus on undergraduate education is “unique. I know Princeton has excellent graduate programs, but when you are an undergraduate, you feel you are the reason the University exists. You have your courses, you read and learn on your own, you have the precepts to broaden your view, you spend time in discussion with other students―where else could you spend four years in such an intellectually charged environment?”
Her time at Princeton, she says, “gave me the confidence to enter a field I didn’t know anything about”―healthcare research and administration. After graduation she worked for 10 years in the healthcare-focused research division of The Advisory Board Company, in Washington, DC, and later in San Francisco.
Since moving back to California―where she earned a master’s degree in governance from the California School Board Association―she has concentrated on raising private funds to improve public education in underserved areas. “Education should be the great equalizer,” she observes, “but it depends where you live.” Hilton is past president and current governing board member of the Board of Education, Menlo Park City School District―an elected position. She also serves as board advisor for the Ravenswood Education Foundation, which benefits the neighboring, underserved Ravenswood City School District.
She lives in Menlo Park, California, with husband Earl Hilton III, known as Skip, who is in business development for start-ups. They have three teenage sons.