Charlotte B Nelson

Education:B.A., Duke University
M.A., Columbia University
M.P.A., Drake University

Charlotte Bowers Nelson has elevated the status of women and girls in Iowa through her leadership and advocacy for justice and equality for everyone. She has served as a YWCA teenage program director, an office manager of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, and state director of the League of Women Voters of the United States' Sex Equity in Vocational Education project. Nelson also coordinated the first women's studies course at Drake University.

For 22 years, she served as the governor-appointed executive director of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. From reforming Iowa's welfare system to establishing gender balance on state boards, initiating equity-related legislation, Nelson led a multi-faceted effort that made a difference in Iowa. She continues her advocacy on boards like the Iowa CareGivers Association and Iowa Friends of Legal Services. Her degrees are a Duke B.A. (summa cum laude), a Columbia M.A., and a Drake M.P.A.

Born in Bristol, Virginia, in 1931, and raised in Bristol, Tennessee, Nelson has lived in Des Moines, Iowa, since 1974. Nelson was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.


Iowa Department of Human Rights (n.d.). “Charlotte Bowers Nelson” Iowa Department of Human Rights. Retrieved November 28, 2022.