DURHAM WOMAN MAKES A SPLASH WITH HER SWIMWEAR COMPANY When Bahama’s Heather Hilliard launched her Lion+Wild swimwear business, she aimed for the top from the get-go. “I always set goals for myself, and my very first goal when I started sketching my first swimsuit for my first collection was to make a crazy enough design that I could picture Sports Illustrated wanting to use in their swimsuit issue,” she recalls. “And by some miracle, that exact design was the one they chose! It was such a surreal moment, seeing the goal in my head come to fruition.” Heather, a Northern High School alum, has designed and sold her swimwear since early 2018. “I started sketching suit designs and coming up with a business plan and began selling online that summer, solely through Instagram (@lionandwild) and my website (lionandwild.com).” She honed her design skills at Miami International University of Art & Design before moving back to Durham pre-pandemic. Her swimsuit designs are bold. She describes her style as an attempt at being as different and eye-catching as possible. “[My designs] incorporate an androgynous aspect, pulling from and blending both feminine and masculine vibes.” Her first swimsuit – the Vega – caught the attention of an editor at SI who asked her to send some samples for possible inclusion in its 2020 swimsuit issue. The North Fork, Long Island, resident’s second collection was launched this fall, and she continues to design for impact. “[My] next goal is to land the [SI] cover one year,” she says. “Fingers crossed!”
AmeriCorps volunteer and Sarah Chaoui, a current senior at Duke University studying public policy and visual media studies, as its new communications assistant.
GIVING BACK A $16 million grant from The Duke Endowment will aid Duke University’s Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Initiative. The grant allocates $10.5 million toward recruiting and retaining underrepresented faculty in specific scholarly areas and $5.5 million to support programs that increase the university community’s understanding of historical and current racism, to oppose racism and to create a more inclusive environment. Me Fine Foundation Inc. raised more than
$210,000 in October during its Comfy for a Cause virtual fundraiser. The Me Fine Foundation provides emotional support and financial assistance to families whose children receive care at North Carolina partner hospitals. The Duke Energy Foundation awarded the Museum of Life and Science a $22,500 grant in October to fund a wetlands restoration 20
Lion+Wild owner and designer Heather Hilliard (in sunglasses) poses with models wearing swimsuits from her first collection. “I want to create a swimwear line that is aiming at pushing past the norm, giving the desire to bring out your unpredictably wild side,” she says of her bold designs.
projection within its “Explore the Wild” exhibit. The grant will help fund the installation of new vegetation, floating plant platforms and associated emergent edge species plantings, which will improve the wetland ecosystem and water quality for the wildlife and attract new species. The City of Durham began a seven-year project in November to plant trees along the streets in local neighborhoods with a goal to increase the urban forest in historically underserved and low-tree canopy neighborhoods and to replace unhealthy trees. The plantings started in Braggtown followed by the Southside neighborhood. Additional neighborhoods that will receive trees through the project include Old East Durham, Walltown, Lyon Park, Old West Durham, Stratford Lakes and downtown. Planting will continue through 2025. As of October, United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Rapid Response Fund raised and distributed more than $1.4 million to 104 local organizations. The fund began in March to combat challenges related to the pandemic. Nearly 24.5% of the funds went to Durhambased organizations that provided food, child care needs, education support and more to vulnerable residents. The latest round released $199,928 to 28 organizations, including Book Harvest, Durham Congregations in Action, Durham Public Schools Foundation, Kramden Institute, The Salvation Army Boys and Girls
Club of Durham and World Relief Durham.
Duke University received a $5 million grant in September from alumnus Derek Wilson via The Wilson Foundation, which provides funding for Duke Law’s Center for Science and Justice to advance criminal justice research, education and policy. In recognition of the grant, the center will be named the Wilson Center for Science and Justice. Grand funds will expand the center’s work over the next six years in the accuracy of evidence in criminal cases; the role of equity in criminal outcomes; and the mental and behavioral health treatment needs of people in the justice system. The Durham Bulls partnered with BASF and Cree|Wolfspeed to create a pollinator garden at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The interactive space allows visitors to learn about pollinators and their contributions to the environment and increases sustainability efforts in Durham by expanding the availability of food sources to other pollinators in the area.