Gary Nelson, Board Member

Gary Nelson

Board Member

Gary D. Nelson is a forward thinker whose creativity and determination make him a visionary in the human capital management industry.  Gary is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Nelson Family of Companies, which has been providing innovative workforce solutions for more than 50 years to global clients through its Nelson Staffing, Nelson Technology, Nelson & Associates, Nelson Interactive, Nelson Compliance and iWorkGlobal business units.

Throughout his career, Gary has distinguished himself as a staffing industry expert and innovator. He has a proven track record of building sustainable businesses focused on delivering personal service instilled with excellence, integrity, empathy and innovation as core guidelines.  In 2000, Gary created WorkforceLogic and built it into a market leader in strategic workforce management and risk mitigation solutions, which he then successfully sold in 2012 to Snow Phipps, a private equity firm.  In 2012 Gary founded iWorkGlobal, an international provider of HR and payroll solutions.

Gary stepped down as Chairman of the Nelson Family of Companies in 2011 in order to focus more of his attention on cultural, philanthropic and civic endeavors. The company is now owned by his four sons, with Craig Nelson in place as the current Chairman.  Gary and his wife Marcia, have a passion for giving back to the community, especially as it relates to healthcare, education and performing arts that broadly serve the greater population.

Gary and Marcia recognized a significant need in the care of the uninsured in the Sonoma Valley. In 2008 they founded the Gary & Marcia Nelson Emergency Care Fund to support the Sonoma Valley Hospital’s improved and updated emergency room and related healthcare services. They continue to be major supporters of the Sonoma Valley Hospital.

Gary believes strongly in the value of education, particularly early childhood education. Gary was instrumental, along with many others, in establishing the Sonoma Charter School in 1995.  The school is the 8th charter school in California and continues to be one of the best performing K-8 schools in the Sonoma Valley School District.  Gary is currently committed to the success of the K-3 Grade Level Proficiency Project (GLPP) in the Sonoma Valley School District. GLPP is a program dedicated to ensuring that every student participating would reach or exceed grade level proficiency in math, reading and language arts by the end of third grade.  The project, which has been renamed Innovations in Education (IIE), now also includes social and emotional support for students to prepare them for learning and has expanded into a second public school.

Gary realizes the success of the youth in any community is also determined by the support available outside of school. In 1989, as President of the Field of Dreams Project, Gary, along with other local business leaders, led the development of the Sonoma Valley Field of Dreams initiative to create a major baseball, softball, and soccer complex near downtown Sonoma. He has also been an active supporter of the Hanna Boys Center, the Sonoma Mentoring Alliance and the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley.

Gary has been a longtime advocate of live performing arts programs, through his support of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Transcendence Theatre Company, Weill Hall at Sonoma State University, Smuin Ballet, Sixth Street Playhouse, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Gary especially appreciates the value of each institution’s commitment to providing entertainment through educational opportunities.  

Gary was able to combine his passion for the arts and the environment through the creation of the Nelson Solar Projects, LLC. In 2012, the Nelson Solar Projects, LLC partnered with Wells Fargo Center for the Arts to provide the capital financing and installation of one of the largest renewable power systems among performing arts centers nationwide.

A graduate of San Jose State University with advanced work in industrial relations, Gary spent ten years in human resources roles, prior to founding the Nelson Family of Companies in 1970. He treasures his time with his wife of 40+ years, their four sons, three daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren ages 4 to 28, and enjoys attending 49ers and Giants games, Broadway musicals, modern dance performances and plays at every opportunity.