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Bill Lively Steps Down From National Geographic Post

By Tim Rogers |

Let’s brush up on the timeline: Bill Lively raised truckloads of money for many years at SMU. Then he was the founding president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center to life. Then, from 2009 through 2011, he was president and CEO of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. So far, so good. But his bio on the National Geographic site doesn’t mention an oddly short stop with the DSO. He spent just two months as the organization’s president and CEO before surprising everyone by stepping down. From a 2012 Cheryl Hall story:

Many speculated that he was fleeing a cultural and financial hornet’s nest. Lively dismisses those rumors, saying he’s faced far greater challenges. …

“The real reason is I was spent,” he says of his DSO departure. “I didn’t have the strength or the energy to tackle it.”

Lively was also worried about his health. He’d lost weight and had constant headaches. Two younger brothers had suffered strokes, and one of them died at 56. Extensive medical testing showed that Lively was just run down.

He and his wife retreated to their house in Estes Park, Colorado. Three months later, though, he was back at it. He took a gig as vice chancellor of the UNT System. That lasted a year. Back to Colorado. Then, in September of last year, he accepted a post in D.C. as senior vice president for development at National Geographic, where he began a huge multiyear fundraising campaign. Now, though, he’s out — at least as a full-time employee.

Carrie Hutchison, a spokeswoman for National Geographic, says that Lively is moving back to Dallas and will continue to help the institution on a part-time basis. “It was always supposed to be a short-term engagement,” she says. “This is just a personal decision to move back home. But we’re very happy with all the progress that he’s going to continue to make.”