Debra Nelson

President, Elevate Communications, LLC

Debra Nelson is President of Elevate Communications, LLC, a professional development and communication services firm that provides customized training and communication solutions. She consults on topics related to diversity and inclusion, interpersonal communication, mentoring, leadership, and performance management. Prior to founding Elevate, Debra held executive positions in industries spanning media, higher education, automotive manufacturing, and gaming and hospitality.

Facilitation/Training Experience

A certified personal development coach, Debra is authorized by Korn Ferry to administer and analyze the Emotional Social Competency Inventory (ESCI-360 assessment tool). She also facilitates, designs and delivers training content to large and small organizations. As a regular contributor to Pivot magazine, she writes about corporate and professional development matters.

Professional Experience

Debra is the former Director and Head of Communication at Brasfield & Gorrie, a leading construction company based in Birmingham, Alabama. At MGM Resorts International, she was Vice President of Corporate Diversity & Community Affairs and credited with steering the diversity initiative to national prominence while also helping increase revenue and profitability. Debra has also held appointments at DaimlerChrysler, Mercedes-Benz companies, University of Alabama System, and in radio and television.

Social and Civic Experience

As Board Chair of the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, Nevada, Debra led negotiations that resulted in a partnership with the City of Las Vegas for the operations of a multi-million-dollar business incubator. She created the Diversity Professionals Network as a platform for sharing and promoting best practices in the gaming industry. Additionally, she founded the Women’s Leadership Conference in Nevada, an annual national event that promotes the personal and professional development of women leaders.

Civic Recognition and Volunteerism

Debra was recognized as one of the nation’s leading diversity and inclusion practitioners by Black Enterprise, DiversityInc, Savoy, and Global Gaming Business magazines. Automotive journalists named her “Woman of the Year” for impacting diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry. She is an inductee of the Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame, where she holds its highest honor, the Athena Award for Leadership. Among many other accolades, she received the “Woman of Distinction” award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Las Vegas Chapter.

Debra currently serves on the boards of Noland Health Services, Inc. and WBHM Public Radio. She is chair of the Board of Visitors for the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama (UA). Previously, she served on the boards of the College of Southern Nevada Foundation, William Patterson University Foundation and the Las Vegas Urban League. She is a former member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC). Today Debra is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Birmingham (AL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, where she is the immediate past vice president. She is a graduate of Leadership Las Vegas and Leadership Birmingham.