Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

Linda Silver is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science Eugene McDermott chief executive officer. Under her leadership, the Perot Museum has redesigned the museum’s “Being Human Hall,” installed a new paleo lab that provides visitors real-time views of the museum’s field research and discoveries and partnered with the National Geographic explorer-in-residence program to produce a virtual reality tour of one of the most significant human ancestor fossil sites on Earth. Previously, Silver worked for the government of Abu Dhabi, where she served as associate director of the technology development committee. She spent eight years as the president and CEO of Great Lakes Science Center, one of the nation’s leading science and technology centers. Silver has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA, an MBA from Pepperdine University and a doctorate from the University of Southern California.

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

What is your “third place” in the neighborhood, after home and work? 

SoulCycle. It would be Drybar, but I have to go to Uptown or Highland Park for that.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Landing my first CEO job at the age of 34.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve overcome in your career?

Being a CEO at 34, moving to the Middle East just months ahead of the Arab Spring in 2011 and convincing friends and family that it was safe and I wasn’t crazy.

What do you look for in employees?

I look for people with a true passion for the mission of the organization and the ability to work well with colleagues. Attitude always trumps experience.

Besides work, what are you proud of?

My children. Caroline, 19, is a sophomore in college, and 16-year-old Brad is a junior at Jesuit College Preparatory School.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Spend money on experiences rather than things, live abroad at least once in your life, travel a lot.

Who is your greatest influence?

My grandfather. He didn’t go to university, but he became a successful banker who lived and worked on five continents before retiring.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Relax and live more in the moment.

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

Have you experienced gender discrimination?

Early on in my career I encountered more age discrimination than gender discrimination, and while there were social events that, as a female, I could not join when I lived and worked in the Persian Gulf, I never experienced gender discrimination on the job. I’ve been lucky to always have worked in organizations where female leadership was encouraged.

What apps or gadgets do you find to be essential at work?

The Dinaledi Chamber Perot App, which is related to our exhibit, “Origins: Fossils from the Cradle of Humankind.” The exhibition runs through March 20, 2020. I also love GoToMeeting, Skype and Google Hangout for partner meetings — especially those across time zones. ApplePay, which for better or worse, works at our vending machines on late nights.

Is there a neighborhood nonprofit that you support?

Family Gateway and Heroes for Children.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

There isn’t a perfect balance, but things even out over time. That said, this year I promised a friend I’d commit to doing Rachel Hollis’s “Last 90 Days” program with her, so we’ll see.

What is the biggest problem that our community faces?

We can be more focused on civility. Without a commitment to civil discourse, we just become polarized, and conversations become divisive rather than enlightening.

Given $1 million, how would you spend it?

I’d love to support the work we do at the Perot Museum, of course. However, if I had to look to external opportunities, I’d provide micro loans to science teachers to gain real-world lab and field experience. I think one of the problems with the way science is taught at the K-12 level is that we neglect to teach the nature of science, which is key to understanding how science really works. Come to think of it, we might have the basis for a good funding proposal here.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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