DALLAS, June 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Lyda Hill Foundation, dedicated to funding game-changing advances in nature and science research, today announced that Nicole G. Small, currently CEO of Dallas' Perot Museum of Nature and Science, will assume responsibilities as President of the Foundation. In this capacity, Ms. Small will be charged with working with Ms. Hill to provide leadership for all of the Foundation's organizational and grant initiatives, with a particular focus on early-stage biomedical, environmental, and conservation programs. Ms. Small will remain with the Perot Museum until later this year to help ensure a smooth transition.

Ms. Small's career reflects stellar contributions to cultural and civic endeavors. Most notably, during her tenure with the Perot Museum, she spearheaded the merger of the city's existing nature and science museums (the Dallas' Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Children's Museum) and moved the combined entity from Fair Park to its new, heralded home near downtown Dallas. In doing so, Ms. Small and her team achieved their $185-million fundraising goal – which provided for the site acquisition, exhibition planning and design, construction of the new building, education programs and an endowment – more than a full year before the Museum's opening. These achievements, among many others, have earned the Perot Museum widespread acclaim both for its innovative design and programming excellence.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Small held positions with McKinsey & Co., and multiple technology and venture capital firms.

"With relentless focus and keen intelligence, Nicole planned and completed one of the nation's foremost Nature and Science museums," said Foundation namesake Lyda Hill. "Her work over the years has inspired millions of visitors to rediscover the joy and wonder of science, which so closely parallels the work of my Foundation. While at the Perot, she also demonstrated the kind of strategic and operational acumen that will prove immensely beneficial as we sharpen the Foundation's focus and accelerate our grant-giving activities. I have been fortunate to witness Nicole's work first-hand, and have no doubt that she is the right person to work with me in ensuring that the Foundation's work contributes to lasting and remarkable global change."

Ms. Hill added, "As a long-time supporter of the Perot Museum, I am also pleased to accommodate a seamless transition to new leadership at the Museum. Nicole and I both agreed that making this announcement now, well in advance of her planned departure later this year, would facilitate the smoothest transition for the Museum."

"I am deeply honored to have led the Perot Museum during a time of transformational change, and I look forward to continuing my current responsibilities without interruption over the coming months," added Ms. Small. "The past 12 years with the Museum have been exhilarating, but science teaches us that evolution and change are inevitable. It's time for a new challenge, and I can think of no better opportunity than the one Lyda has so generously offered. Most importantly, I am inspired by Lyda's passion to take on big challenges that have the potential to make a significant global impact. This new role allows me to continue my active engagement with science and innovation – both of which have shaped my personal and professional life." 

Ms. Small concluded, "Although I will truly miss working with Museum colleagues, friends, and visionary supporters like the Perot Family, our paths will surely cross as both the Museum and the Foundation will continue to pursue shared goals for many years."

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (1995) with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (1999), Ms. Small is currently a member of the Dallas Assembly, YPO, International Women's Forum, and The Hockaday School Board of Trustees.

About the Lyda Hill Foundation

Founded in 1998, the Lyda Hill Foundation is a private foundation based in Dallas which funds organizations that make game-changing advances in conservation, medical and nature research.

Ms. Lyda Hill, the Foundation's namesake, seeks to expand her philanthropy in ways that are measureable and have the potential to transform the world. Current Foundation beneficiaries include The Pew Charitable Trusts.  Ms. Hill also has made the largest contribution in U.S. history to an all girls' school by a living alumna with a $20 million gift to her alma mater, Dallas' Hockaday School and the largest contribution to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Moon Shots Program with a $50 million donation.  She has been a long time and significant supporter of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

The granddaughter of legendary oilman H.L. Hunt, Ms. Hill is a successful businesswoman in her own right, having developed the Fort Worth Stockyard as a shopping and tourist destination and created Texas' largest travel agency.  Her current business interests also include a focus on science. Among them are Remeditex Ventures, which invests in early biomedical research by universities and health care institutions in Texas and Colorado with the aim of getting promising advances to the marketplace quickly.

As part of her commitment to leaving a lasting mark on society, Ms. Hill has signed The Giving Pledge, begun by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, through which she has pledged to donate her entire wealth to charity, the bulk of it during her lifetime.   

For more information, please visit www.lydahillfoundation.org

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