International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Thomas C. Nelson serves as Chairman, President and CEO of National Gypsum Company, one of the nation's leading building products manufacturers. The privately-held company, headquartered in Charlotte, NC, operates a network of nearly 50 plants, laboratories, mines and quarries throughout North America.
Nelson joined the company in 1995 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He was elected Vice Chairman of the Board in 1996 and was appointed President and CEO in 1999 and named Chairman in 2004. Under Nelson's leadership, the company has earned national recognition as one of America's safest companies and two plants were named one of the nation's 10 Best Plants by Industry Week Magazine in 2005 and 2006. He also is a director of Belk Inc., the nation's largest privately-held department store company, and Yum! Brands, Inc., the world's largest restaurant company. He is a member of The Business Council, The Business Roundtable, Council on Foreign Relations, and is a past-chair of the Policy Advisory Board at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
Nelson grew up in Chicago, graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in industrial engineering, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked in the High Technology Group at Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York and San Francisco and in the venture capital industry before joining National Gypsum. In 1992, Nelson was one of 15 people selected nationwide as a White House Fellow. During his Fellowship, he served as Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Special Projects and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.
In Charlotte, Nelson is active in the city's civic life. He is a past chair of the Charlotte Chamber and is on the boards of the United Way and Carolinas HealthCare System.
Nelson and his wife, Anna, have two daughters and reside in Charlotte.