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Douglas Nelson
Douglas Nelson
Douglas Nelson
Consultant and
Retired, President/CEO
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Douglas Nelson is the retired President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). He is one of the nation's leading advocates for children and one of the country's foremost experts on policies and community-based responses to improve the lives of at-risk children and their families. He assumed the presidency in 1990 and, for 20 years, led AECF through one of the most remarkable and innovative transformations of a philanthropic organization— from a moderately-sized regional institution providing foster care services to disadvantaged children to one of the nation's most influential and respected large foundations. In 2010, President Jimmy Carter commended Nelson’s leadership, “It is my great honor to salute the service that Doug Nelson has given to our most disinvested and disenfranchised populations and to the overall betterment of America’s philanthropic missions. Such leaders are all too rare.”

Mr. Nelson also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of East Baltimore Development, Inc.; is a member of the Board of Directors of the Carter Center and of the CDC Foundation in Atlanta, GA; and is former Chair of Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative. Prior to that, he served as Chair of the New York City Special Advisory Panel on Child Welfare and as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation Center in New York City. Mr. Nelson currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Dane County (WI) Racial Disparities Reduction Project, a research-based initiative to increase racial equity in the state’s capital county.   

Among other recognitions, Mr. Nelson received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2005 from Suffolk University in Boston, MA; an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University in 2010; the 2003 Whitney M. Young Award from the Urban League; and the 2002 Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award by the United Neighborhood Centers of America, Inc. 
In addition to frequent lectures and addresses, Mr. Nelson has written widely on a range of domestic and social policy issues. His social history of the World War II relocation of Japanese Americans entitled Heart Mountain earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1976. Mr. Nelson maintains close ties with many from this experience and currently serves on the Board of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. His other published works include studies and essays on children and youth, aging, long- term care, and housing. To honor his legacy to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey staff published a collection of Mr. Nelson’s formal addresses and casual remarks—without his knowledge—to reflect key elements of his thinking and leadership over the two decades that he led the Foundation.   

Prior to joining the foundation in May 1990, Nelson was deputy director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization specializing in policy research and analysis across a range of domestic issues. Before that, he served as assistant secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services. He also studied and taught social history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.