Text size:  A  A  A

Laura Nelson to lead Alumnae Council

Laura Nelson '09Laura Nelson ’09 will serve as Chair of the St. Catherine University Alumnae Council beginning in October 2016. Nelson will be the third leader of the Council, and succeeds Helen Wagner ’69 who has been serving as chair since October 2013.

"Since its inception, the Alumnae Council has been tremendously successful in promoting the mission and vision of St. Kate's, offering fun and engaging programming for alumnae, and strengthening the St. Kate's alumnae network,” says Nelson. “I look forward to continuing to work with alumnae and University leaders to build on that success and further strengthen the bond between alumnae and the University."

The Alumnae Council at St. Kate’s is a body of 180 alumnae, from across the country, representing various age groups and professions. The group serves the University by focusing on alumnae engagement. Each member commits to working on one of 13 committees.

Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in history and mathematics from St. Kate’s. In 2012, she graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. She then served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Lorie Skjerven Gildea, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Nelson joined the prestigious firm Stinson Leonard Street LLP in September 2013 as an  attorney in the health law division. She advises clients in the health care and nonprofit sectors on regulatory compliance matters, fraud and abuse laws, ethics matters, state reporting laws, corporate governance and transactional matters.

An active volunteer at St. Kate’s since her graduation, Nelson has been a member of the Alumnae Council since its formation in 2011. In 2013, Director of Alumnae Relations Karen Jothen MAOL’06 asked her to co-chair a new committee on the council. The Volunteer Recognition Committee was tasked with recommending to the University the best ways to recognize alumnae volunteers in ways as meaningful as the recognitions given to alumnae donors. Nelson led a team of alumnae who built and administered an alumnae survey. The group made its recommendation to the University and finished its assignment in 2015. 

Nelson then moved to the Student Recruitment Committee, where she has served as committee chair during the 2015-16 academic year. This committee assists the admission office by recruiting alumnae volunteers for the St. Kate's State Fair booth and producing hand-written notes to prospective students who have been accepted at St. Kate’s but have not yet committed to attend.  Nelson, along with her committee and alumnae volunteers rallied to write nearly 1400 personal notes. She also began serving on the Alumnae Council’s Executive Committee in 2015.

In addition to volunteer efforts at her alma mater, Nelson became a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Justice Foundation in 2015. The organization works for justice by creating opportunities for law students to provide public interest and pro bono legal services.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have such high-caliber women wanting to serve as Chair of our Alumnae Council – first Linda Thrasher '88, then Helen and now Laura,” says Jothen. “They are all inspiring women, with amazing talents and gifts, rich experience, and strong leadership qualities. What they have in common is their art of mobilizing others to want to give back to St. Kate’s.”

Nelson will be installed as the Alumnae Council Chair at the annual meeting in October 2016, when Helen Wagner will conclude her service as Council Chair. Wagner plans to remain a part of the council, serving in an advisory role.

Under Wagner’s leadership, the Alumnae Council formed two new committees, the Athletics Alumnae Committee and the New Member Recruitment Committee. Meaningful work also continued within existing committees, particularly in the area of student services. A number of committees, including Career Development, Student Hospitality, Alumnae Student Connections and Young Alumnae, were directly involved in efforts that served current Katies.

"I am very happy to have had the opportunity to lead the Alumnae  Council,” said Wagner. “Working with committed, creative alumnae tackling projects in a true Katie fashion has been very exhilarating. I was especially pleased to see how our projects engaged alums while benefiting the heart of our University — our students!"

To learn more about the Alumnae Council and its 13 committees, please visit

Feb. 17, 2016 by Sara Berhow

See also: Alumnae/i, Leadership