Debra Nelson is President of Elevate Communications, a professional development and communication services firm that provides customized training, executive coaching, and communication solutions. Prior to founding Elevate, Debra held executive positions in media, higher education, automotive manufacturing, and gaming and hospitality with companies that included DaimlerChrysler, MGM Resorts International and Mercedes-Benz, where she helped introduce and launch a new automotive product for the world market.
As Board Chair of the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, Nevada, she negotiated a partnership with the City of Las Vegas for the operations of a multi-million-dollar business incubator. The facility is a hub for business development and entrepreneurship. She introduced the Diversity Professionals Network for sharing and promoting best practices in the gaming and hospitality industry. Additionally, she founded and produced the Women’s Leadership Conference, one of the longest-running professional development conferences for women in Nevada.
Debra has been recognized by DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, Savoy, and Global Gaming Business magazines for her professional contributions. She is a member of the Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame and recipient of the Athena Award for Leadership. Automotive journalists named her “Woman of the Year” for impacting diversity and inclusion in the auto industry. She holds 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 Engineering Council of Birmingham, Alabama, and she was named an Outstanding Alumna of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama (UA). 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 past board chair. She is a member of The Links, Incorporated, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.