ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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JUDY CEBULKO: OPENING WORLDS FOR KIDS A longtime Howard Hughes Corporation exec, Judy Cebulko was looking forward to an early retirement with her husband, Ed. For 16 years, she had served on the board of the Lied Discovery Children's Museum, but it was facing challenging times. Only 80,000 visitors were coming each year, while some comparably sized museums attracted hundreds of thousands. "We were sitting there in a boardroom," she says, "trying to think of how we were going to make payroll and make a major change. [The board] said, 'Judy, who's going to do this? Who has the history with the museum, and your passion?'" Retirement plans thwarted, Cebulko threw herself into recruiting a new CEO (Linda Quinn), plus transforming and relocating the museum. Ultimately she reached out to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which had announced a gift to the Smith Center to pay for the completion of its block in Symphony Park. Of that gift, $43 million went to build what is now the Donald W. Reynolds Discovery Center; Cebulko and trustees raised $7 million to finish it. "I traveled all over to see which children's museums had magic," she explains, and she found it in Houston. "What we needed was that interaction, where everything is meant to be touched and felt." Fast-forward to the 2013 opening of the new museum, and her baby is an astonishing project embedded with levels upon levels of learning, from puppet shows to the Patent Pending lab, where families work together to create contraptions that can withstand a 14-foot drop or an earthquake. She anticipates a year-end visitorship of 350,000. "Ed and I had hopes and dreams of a big family," Cebulko says, and through much medical intervention, she had her now-26-year-old daughter, Lexi. "This museum fulfilled a need in me." Each year, kids in a chosen grade visit free of charge. "Our community was starving for this," she says. "The first day I parked in the lot and I saw all those buses pull up and all the kids holding hands waiting to get in, I cried. I had one beautiful child, but now I can reach every child." 98 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 096-105_V_F_VegasGives_Nov13.indd 98 10/23/13 11:07 AM

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