Hoblitzelle Foundation

ABOUT the foundation


Karl St. John Hoblitzelle was born in St. Louis in 1879.  While serving as an event manager at the St. Louis World Fair in his early 20s, Karl Hoblitzelle met performers and concession operators who indicated the south, in particular Texas, lacked venues to showcase their work and talent.  Upon the fair’s closing in 1903, Karl Hoblitzelle came to Dallas, Texas with $2,500 and began to build a chain of vaudeville theaters. At its peak, Interstate Theater Company held 160 theaters across Texas and the Southeast.  These theaters were soon transformed into movie houses, and the success of this entertainment business created financial resources which he invested in the growing oil and gas, real estate, and banking industries in Texas. 

Karl Hoblitzelle married Esther Thomas in 1920, a Broadway starlet who had performed under the name of “Esther Walker” and come to Dallas to perform at one of the theaters.  Both were active in the social, civic, and cultural activities of Dallas, and did not have any descendants.

Prudent management of their financial assets resulted in the accumulation of significant wealth, which upon the death of Mrs. Hoblitzelle in 1943 and Mr. Hoblitzelle in 1967, became the corpus of Hoblitzelle Foundation.

For more information about the history of Karl Hoblitzelle, please refer to the book published by Paul W. Harris, President and CEO from 1986-2017:

Karl St. John Hoblitzelle

Karl St. John Hoblitzelle

Esther Thomas Hoblitzelle

Esther Thomas Hoblitzelle

Board of Directors

John W. Dayton, Chairman
Karen L. Shuford, Vice Chairman
Jere W. Thompson, Jr., Treasurer

Rafael M. Anchia
Holland P. Gary
Lydia H. Novakov
Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D
Catherine M. Rose


Honorary Lifetime Directors

Linda P. Custard
Jerry Farrington
Gerald W. Fronterhouse
Paul W. Harris
Caren H. Prothro
Deedie Potter Rose
George A. Shafer
William T. Solomon
Kern Wildenthal, M.D., Ph.D.
J. McDonald (Don) Williams



president & CEO

Katie Robbins

Katie’s connection with Hoblitzelle Foundation began well before her actual employment date in 2016.  Katie’s grandfather, Lynn Harris, began working for Mr. Hoblitzelle’s theater company as an usher at the Majestic Theater in the late 1920s.  Lynn ultimately supported Mr. Hoblitzelle in many ways, including working on foundation business.  Upon Lynn’s retirement in 1986, Katie’s father Paul W. Harris began working for the foundation, creating this treasured generational connection.  Paul retired at the end of 2017, and Katie was named President and CEO effective January 1, 2018.

Katie spent over twenty years in nonprofit finance and accounting, is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Texas A&M University and earned her MBA at Southern Methodist University.  Katie has served on the board of the Junior League of Dallas and is currently chairing the Parkland Foundation.


Executive Assistant to the President & CEO

Lisa Hall

A graduate of George Mason University, Lisa has served in administrative professional capacities for most of her life. Lisa is a Board member of Executive Women International and an advocate for Administrative Professionals through Dallas Admin Awards, Office Ninjas, and ELS Forum. She joined Hoblitzelle in the summer of 2018 after previously working for Hunt Oil Company and Southwest Airlines. Lisa is a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). She also holds certifications in organizational managment (OM) and Microsoft Office (MOS).

Annual Reports