Cathy Nelson

Cathy Nelson

President, Board of Directors


Cathy Nelson is the Vice President for Development & Membership for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Cathy leads a team of 55 professionals responsible for executing HRC’s organizational fundraising and membership strategies that generate more than $50 million annually to support HRC’s work. She worked with the board and the branding team that developed the ubiquitous blue and yellow HRC logo and has served on all of the organization’s strategic planning committees.
During Cathy’s 20-year tenure at HRC, she has utilized an entrepreneurial approach to create multiple revenue programs and a national membership of more than 1.5 million. She created a board of governors and local volunteer leadership structure of steering committees in 30 cities that participate in advocacy initiatives and help raise more than fifty percent of the total budget. One of her earliest initiatives was to launch HRC retail shops to promote HRC brand merchandise and attract members in key cities.

Beyond traditional methods for increasing awareness, support and membership, Cathy has pursued creative alliances with entertainers resulting in such productions as Equality Rocks, a sold-out charity concert at RFK stadium benefiting HRC, and Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour that not only raised money but garnered more than 15,000 supporters for HRC-backed legislation in the U.S. Congress. She uses her talents daily to advance causes she feels passionate about while engaging and educating others about the issues. Cathy is a proud resident of Washington D.C., where she lives with her partner.