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Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award

2021 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Recipients

Linda & Mitch Hart

Linda & Mitch Hart

Ms. Hart, Vice Chairman, President, and CEO of Hart Group, Inc., grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh. After receiving her law degree from SMU Law School, she clerked for Judge Irving Goldberg on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the first woman to do so. Subsequently, for the next 24 years prior to joining her husband at Hart Group in 1990, Ms. Hart was a nationally recognized corporate and securities law attorney in private practice, writing and lecturing frequently around the country. She is former Chairman of the NYSE Legal Advisory Board and co-authored the first treatise on securities and partnership law, master limited partnerships and other investment limited partnerships. While continuing her legal practice in Dallas, Ms. Hart served as outside consultant to the SEC in Washington, D.C. and as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School. Ms. Hart is a Trustee and former Vice Chairman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) and has, and continues to, serve in leadership positions with many arts organizations, including as former Chairman and member of the Board of the Dallas Symphony, a member of the Executive Committee and Board of the New York Philharmonic and the Board of The Dallas Opera, as well as leadership positions on the boards of other corporate and charitable organizations. Past Chairman of the University of Dallas at Dallas School of Management Advisory Board and Foundation, she is a member ofThe University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center President’s Advisory Board and its Executive Committee, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and Cox School of Business Executive Boards, Hart Center for Engineering Leadership Board and SMU Hart Global Leaders Forum. Ms. Hart is a member of the Committee of 200 and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Women’s Leadership Board. She is former President and a founding member of the International Women’s Forum, Dallas.

A proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mr. Hart – after service in the Marine Corps – began work at IBM. In 1962 he joined Ross Perot as one of the founders of Electronic Data Systems and became the firm’s President, a position he held until his retirement from EDS in 1977. The next year, Mr. Hart founded Rmax, Inc., an insulation company which had 38 years of continuous operation, before being sold in 2016. Mr. Hart was founding Director and former Chairman of the Episcopal School of Dallas and founded both Leadership America and the International Business Fellows. He was also one of the founders of Home Depot, where he served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for more than 30 years. In 1983, he established Hart Group, Inc., of which he serves as Chairman. In 2017, Mr. Hart was awarded the USNA Distinguished Graduate Award, the highest honor the Naval Academy awards to its graduates. Mr. Hart is Trustee Emeritus of both Southern Methodist University (one of only 12 Trustee Emeriti in SMU’s more than 100 year history) and of Duke University, where he started the Hart Leadership Program at the School of Public Policy, through which over 13,000 students have passed in its 34 year history. Mr. Hart is a member of World Presidents’ Organization, Chief Executives Organization and has been a member of the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He serves on various boards, including the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership at SMU, the SMU Hart Global Leaders Forum and the SMU Lyle School of Engineering Executive Board. Mr. Hart, together with Ms. Hart, founded the USNA Leadership Conference, an annual conference encompassing both military and civilian institutions.

LINDA AND MITCH HART, together, have used their time, energy and resources to focus on causes that inspire them – civic and business leadership, science and medicine, education and the arts. Among those are:

  • Duke University Hart Leadership Program, focused on ethical leadership development for undergraduates (the first of its kind in the country);
  • SMU Hart Global Leaders Forum, which brings national and international leaders in government, business, science and the media to Dallas, to share their knowledge and experience and to interact with high school student leaders (by design, over half of the students must be from within DISD);
  • U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference, an annual leadership conference, which brings together over 45 military academies and civilian colleges and universities;
  • SMU Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, which touches every student at the Lyle School and coaches them throughout their academic experiences, to help build skills that support teamwork, both in engineering design courses and in industry;
  • Building Business Opportunities, founded in 2007, has a goal of helping to level the playing field among small minority firms, largely located in South Dallas, and established North Dallas businesses;
  • Hart Institute for Women Conductors, the first program of its kind in the world, to help talented women gain a foothold in the world of opera and bring worldwide attention to The Dallas Opera;
  • Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SMU, which provides students and faculty with inspiration, resources and guidance necessary to create technological discoveries, develop prototypes and create viable business plans to commercialize them successfully;
  • The Hart Amphitheater at UNT’s South Dallas campus, which, when opened, will serve as a gathering place for all students.
  • Klyde Warren Park has transformed the urban core of Dallas. The Harts were early supporters of the first phase, and have again committed to supporting the second phase of the destination park.

For more information, please contact Methodist Health System Foundation at (214) 947-4555 or