Debra Nelson

President | Elevate Communication

Debra Nelson is President of Elevate Communications, a professional development and communication services firm that provides customized training and communication solutions in diversity, equity, and inclusion, leadership and organizational development, and program and performance management. Prior to founding Elevate, Debra held executive positions in industries spanning media, higher education, automotive manufacturing, and gaming and hospitality.

As Vice President at MGM Resorts International, she steered the diversity initiative to national prominence and helped increase revenue and profitability. Debra also held executive appointments at DaimlerChrysler, Mercedes-Benz companies, University of Alabama System, and in radio and television. She also led corporate communications at Brasfield & Gorrie, a leading construction company in the southeast.

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.

Debra has been 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. She received the “Woman of Distinction” award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Las Vegas Chapter. In 2020, she became the first woman and first African American to receive the Leadership Award from the Engineering Council of Birmingham. Also, the University of Alabama (UA) College of Communication and Information Sciences recognized her as an “Outstanding Alumna” for professional contributions and accomplishments.

Debra currently serves on the boards of Noland Health Services, Inc., WBHM Public Radio, and the Board of Visitors for the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA, where she is a former board chairperson. She is also a member of the President’s Cabinet at UA. Previously, she served on the boards of the College of Southern Nevada Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas, 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. She is a graduate of Leadership Las Vegas and Leadership Birmingham.

Coaching specialty: Executive/Personal/Professional Development/DEI

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