photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Nicole Small

The Museum of Nature & Science’s Nicole Small talks about challenges, triumps, and babies.

Nicole Small was CEO of the Dallas Museum of Natural History for five years until her organization joined forces with The Science Place in January. Now, because both boards admired her leadership, she’s the CEO of the newly created Museum of Nature & Science. She’s got her work cut out for her: continuing to revitalize a once stagnant destination, smoothing the wrinkles of the nonprofits’ merger, and planning and fundraising for the $150 million new museum facility to be built next to Victory Park downtown.

Age: 33
Title/Company: CEO, Museum of Nature & Science (Dallas Museum of Natural History/The Science Place)
Tenure: Five years
What was your first job? Camp counselor.
What was your worst job? The one where I stayed up all night correcting people’s grammar (even though I thought I was supposed to be an investment banker).
If you couldn’t say “the people I work with,” what would you say is the best part of your job? The amazing opportunity to be a part of building an institution that will not only have a positive economic impact for Dallas, but that will “inspire minds through nature and science,” and to know that one of the children walking through the museum’s doors might be inspired by our programming to become a Nobel Prize winner or to cure a major disease.
What’s the worst part? Not always having the resources available to fulfill some of the museum’s great ideas.
On weekends, where would people find you? Spending time with my husband and 7-month-old (and maybe on my BlackBerry).
What book is currently on your nightstand? Books on everything from architecture to raising children.
What’s your favorite TV show? Too embarrassing.
What’s your most treasured possession? My family.
What’s your biggest regret? Life is too short to have any major regrets— you have to appreciate every day, and you can’t look back.
What three web sites do you visit most often? www.dallasdino.org, www.scienceplace.org, and www.google.com.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? My dad used to tell us growing up, “Don’t be a sheep,” which means be your own person and make your own decisions for the right reasons. Live your own life.

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