Alumni Profile

Thomas Nelson, MPA 2004
Thomas Nelson
Former Majority Leader, Wisconsin State Assembly; County Executive, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
MPA, Class of 2004
Thomas Nelson was born in St. Paul,Minnesota. He graduated from Little Chute High School in 1994 and attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After graduating, Nelson went on to earn a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University in 2004. 
 
Nelson was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2004, becoming the only Democratic challenger to defeat a Republican incumbent in that election cycle. He went on to re-election in 2006 and 2008.
 
After a new Democratic majority was elected in the fall of 2008, Nelson was selected by his peers to serve as Assembly Majority Leader – the second highest ranking member of the Assembly Democratic Leadership. He was one of the youngest legislators in Wisconsin history to serve in this position. 
 
In 2010, Nelson won his party's nomination for lieutenant governor, beating a crowded field with over fifty percent of the vote.
 
Following the 2010 election cycle, Nelson ran and won the position of Outagamie County Executive besting a field of six candidates. As county executive, Nelson oversees a $200 million annual budget, thirty-one departments and a 1,100 person workforce. 
 
Nelson resides in Kaukauna, Wis. with his wife Maria.