Former Overseer Diana Nelson ’84 Named to the Harvard Corporation

The former chair of Carlson Inc. has long been active in alumni affairs and in nonprofits focused on education, the arts, and children.

Diana L. Nelson
Diana L. Nelson
Photograph courtesy of Harvard Public Affairs and Communications

Diana L. Nelson ’84 will become the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, the University announced on Monday. Her term of office begins officially on July 1.

Nelson has previously co-chaired the College Fund, served on the Radcliffe Institute’s dean’s advisory council, and co-chaired a Faculty of Arts and Sciences task force on the undergraduate experience, among other positions. She served as an Overseer from 2010 to 2016, including as vice chair of the executive committee. She was a co-chair of The Harvard Campaign (concluded in 2018), and has co-chaired her class reunions since 1994.

“Diana Nelson has been one of her generation’s most devoted Harvard alumnae,” said William F. Lee, senior fellow of the Corporation, in a statement. “She knows the University well, she has a passion for education, and she brings a remarkable breadth of experience in governance roles.” 

A fine-arts concentrator as an undergraduate, Nelson is now president of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s board. She also holds a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and until last summer, served as chair of Carlson Inc., a leading provider of travel services. She will become chair of Carlson’s parent company, Carlson Holdings, Inc., in May. A Minnesota native, she now lives in San Francisco, where she has served with several nonprofit organizations focused on education, the arts, and children. 

“I am deeply honored to join President Bacow and my future Corporation colleagues in serving to support and advance Harvard’s mission,” Nelson said in a statement. “I’m confident the University will meet new challenges and be an ongoing force for good.”

Updated February 13, 2020, 8:00 a.m.: Nelson fills the vacancy left when venture capitalist James Breyer stepped down at the end of last academic year. Her appointment neatly fills at least two gaps left by his departure: a West Coast presence among Corporation members, and a record of fundraising prowess on Harvard’s behalf.

Read the official University announcement here

Read more articles by: Jacob Sweet

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