Jim Nelson has extensive experience counseling government and private entities and officials in many areas, including government procurement and contracting; ethics; and political and campaign activities (including bond elections). Mr. Nelson also represents government and private clients as a consultant and advocate.

Mr. Nelson worked with Avid Center as the Executive Director – Chief Executive Director prior to joining Thompson & Horton where he worked with foundations to enhance the AVID college readiness system in schools across the nation.

Mr. Nelson was an attorney with Shafer, Davis, Ashley, O’Leary, and Stoker in Odessa, Texas before becoming the Commissioner of Education of the Texas Education Agency.  He then moved on to Senior Advisor of the United States Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. and Baghdad, Iraq.  From there, Mr. Nelson became the Senior Vice President for State and Federal Affairs for Voyager Expanded Learning in Dallas, Texas.  Mr. Nelson was then the Superintendent of Richardson Independent School District and from there became the Executive Director-Chief Executive Officer for AFID Center in San Diego, CA.

In early 1996, Mr. Nelson was appointed to the newly created 15-member board of the State Board for Educator Certification by Governor George W. Bush.  He was elected by the members to Chair the board at its first meeting and served in that role until appointed Commissioner of Education by Governor Bush in 1999.  SBEC was given the responsibility of redesigning the educator certification process and the teacher preparation accreditation process.  Mr. Nelson spent countless hours working with educators from across the state during those three and a half years.

During Mr. Nelson’s career he as been the Trustee of Ector County ISD and Board President; Chairman of Texas Association of School Boards; Legislative Committee member of State Board for Educator Certification; Board Member of Texas Business and Education Coalition; on the Advisory Board of America’s Promise Alliance; Chair of the College of Education Advisory Board for University of Texas at Arlington; Vice-Chair of the Texas Teaching Commission; and Board Member of the Educational Policy Improvement Center.