Denise Nelson Nash, Ed.D.

Vice President, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, and Convener

Scripps College

Denise Nelson Nash, EdD is a virtuoso of getting things done. A strategist, researcher, and facilitator of effective governance, she motivates and empowers others to confront persistent challenges with confidence and ingenuity. 

With a career spanning over 25 years in higher education, Dr. Nelson Nash has held numerous leadership positions and proven herself as a skilled facilitator, collaborator, and implementer of impactful practices, projects, and initiatives. Since 2013, she has been an integral part of Scripps College, serving as Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, as well as the convener of the IDEA Initiative – a framework and platform for fostering equity and inclusion.

Dr. Nelson Nash’s role at Scripps College encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. She advises the president and board chair, provides coordination and support to the governing body, contributes to the development of institutional policy, procedures, and governance, and actively collaborates with the equity and justice leadership team to advance the college’s mission. Additionally, she plays a vital role in various strategic initiatives that advance and shape the future of the college. Prior to her tenure at Scripps College, she made significant contributions to Caltech, where she served the Institute in a variety of capacities for over 15 years, including as Assistant Vice President for Campus and Community Relations. Her expertise was also utilized as the Executive Director of the Cultural Planning Division for the City of Pasadena and as the Director of the Plaza de la Raza School of Performing and Visual Arts.

Beyond her professional achievements, she has further demonstrated her commitment to foster dialogue and sharing knowledge. As the co-creator and co-host of the podcast “Life in Higher Ed,” she engages in thought-provoking conversations with an array of guests offering practical tips and advice for professional and personal growth. Her research on “Increasing the California Latinx Private College Applicant Pool: Understanding the Factors that Influence Latinx College Choice” was recently published, demonstrating her dedication to addressing critical issues in education.

Dr. Nelson Nash’s accomplishments have earned her numerous awards and recognitions. She has been honored as a Contemporary History Maker by the Pasadena Museum of History, named a 27th Congressional District Woman of the Year, and received the City of Pasadena Raymond Pitts Human Relations Award. In addition to her work at Scripps College, she serves on the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Board Professionals Council, is the past chair of the AGB Board Professionals Leadership Group, and sits on the Board of Trustees of Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California. 

Nelson Nash received her doctorate in Leadership and Innovation from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree from Scripps College.