Bill Hilf named Chair of American Prairie board

Bill Hilf named Chair of American Prairie's National Board of Directors.
Bill Hilf named Chair of American Prairie’s National Board of Directors.

American Prairie is pleased to announce that Mr. Bill Hilf has been named Chair of its National Board of Directors. American Prairie is a Montana-based nonprofit conservation organization working to connect more than three million acres of the Great Plains, and conserve a fully functioning prairie ecosystem.

Starting May 1, Hilf will succeed Mr. George E. Matelich, Kelso & Company Managing Director, who served as Chairman of American Prairie’s board since 2013, and has been a board director with the organization since 2008. Matelich will remain on the board as Vice Chair.

“I am honored to be named Chair of the National Board of Directors for American Prairie,” said Hilf. “This is the most ambitious conservation project in North America today, and I am excited to work alongside the talented staff and dedicated board directors of American Prairie to accelerate our progress towards the critical mission of restoring this vital ecosystem.”

A seasoned technology and impact executive, Hilf’s career spans more than 25 years leading complex businesses, product development, and philanthropic initiatives for global organizations such as Microsoft, HP, and IBM as well as a variety of startups in Silicon Valley and beyond.

“We are very fortunate to have Bill as our next Chairman,” said Alison Fox, CEO of American Prairie. “This transition marks an exciting new chapter for our organization. Bill’s leadership experience and ties to Montana will play a pivotal role as we accelerate our efforts to restore and preserve the prairie.”

Fox went on to recognize the significant achievements American Prairie has made under Matelich’s tenure as Board Chair.

George Matelich | American Prairie Board Chairman 2013-2024
George Matelich | American Prairie Board Chairman 2013-2024

“George has been a vital member of this organization for more than 15 years,” said Fox. “His unwavering commitment to our mission and steadfast guidance has been instrumental in shaping the direction of American Prairie. Together, we have grown our land base to over 460,000 acres, and added major infrastructure that includes three huts and our National Discovery Center in Lewistown.”

“It has been a great honor to have served as Board Chair for more than a decade,” said Matelich. “I am incredibly proud of our many accomplishments at American Prairie, which includes returning the iconic bison to its native home as well as improving critical habitat for wildlife, and welcoming tens of thousands of visitors to explore the beautiful prairie landscape.”

Hilf currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Vale Group, formerly known as Vulcan LLC, the project management firm founded in 1986 by philanthropists Jody Allen and the late Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Hilf leads the company’s three focus areas comprising award-winning, sustainable real estate development, a diverse range of asset and project management supporting the Paul G. Allen Estate and Trust, and strategic advising to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and its portfolio of charitable investments in wildlife conservation, ocean health, vibrant communities, and arts and culture.

Hilf serves as Board Chair of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), as well as sits on the Advisory Board for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He has previously served on conservation-oriented nonprofits, such as the Woodland Park Zoo and the Grumeti Fund. He is also founder of High Five Sports in the Philippines, a nonprofit to help homeless children experience greater confidence, leadership, and hope through the power of sports.

Hilf completed his undergraduate studies at California State University-Fullerton and received his master’s degree from Chapman University. He has two grown sons with his wife Shelley, who is a native of Great Falls, Montana, and they split their time between north central Montana and Washington state.