Jerry Nelson

Jerry Nelson, SVP ’69, ’74, believes in taking on challenges and pushing limits—a talent he developed during his years at RIT/NTID while earning a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Along with helping lead the effort that created the NTID Student Congress and being elected its first president, Nelson was editor of The Transcript, a fledgling underground NTID student newspaper; represented the college at the first NTID-Gallaudet debate; and even worked as a Zamboni driver at the RIT ice rink.

“Perhaps my most important life lesson at RIT/NTID was being with both deaf and hearing students, which taught me the basic virtues of working with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds,” says Nelson.

The Silver Spring, Md., native is director of Large Accounts for Purple VRS, whose responsibility includes the Southeast United States plus Puerto Rico, as well as corporate and deaf-owned business accounts on the national level.

“RIT/NTID provided the foundation for subsequent success in management and executive positions within the non-profit and corporate sectors,” Nelson says. “I also learned the benefits of challenging the status quo in constructive ways, particularly in addressing stereotypes about deaf individuals, their capabilities and contributions to society at large. These lessons, without question, opened many doors and opportunities throughout my life and career, both of which have been quite enriching to date.”

Nelson continued meeting challenges head on after graduation as a member of the first NTID Alumni Board, which laid the foundation for today’s alumni board activities. He also has served as an alumni member of the NTID National Advisory Group (NAG), participated in numerous alumni functions across the country, and is involved in alumni fundraising efforts for construction of Sebastian and Lenore Rosica Hall on the RIT/NTID campus. This includes meeting with prospective donors, helping to produce a video encouraging alumni giving and, along with his wife, former NAD CEO Nancy Bloch, contributing to the matching grant challenge. He was honored as RIT/NTID’s Distinguished Alumnus at an event in April.

“It’s critical to the future of RIT/NTID that those of us who benefitted from all we learned here understand that we need to give back,” says Nelson. “We need to continue contributing to the creation of the next generation of leaders.”

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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