Miriam E. Nelson is President and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation. An international leader, scientist, and social entrepreneur renowned for her extensive research, policy work, and civic action in public health, children’s wellness, sustainability, and food systems, Dr. Nelson leads the Foundation’s efforts to make and sustain impactful change in the world through its philanthropy.
Prior to assuming the presidency of Newman’s Own Foundation, Dr. Nelson held leadership roles at academic institutions, including serving as president of Hampshire College, director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire, and associate dean at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. Known for her leadership in higher education, Dr. Nelson is also a highly regarded scientist and researcher who founded—and for fifteen years directed—the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition. The Center’s research, policy, and civic engagement contributed to the reduction of childhood obesity and improvements in women’s health in the United States for over two decades, directly reaching over 11 million women and children. She co-founded ChildObesity180, an initiative that First Lady Michelle Obama supported through her “Let’s Move” campaign.
Dr. Nelson has contributed broadly to public policy initiatives. In 2008 she served as the vice-chair of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also served on the 2010 and 2015 respective Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees (DGAC) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Within the 2015 DGAC, Dr. Nelson spearheaded the influential work on dietary guidance and sustainability. From 2011 to 2014 Dr. Nelson served as a member of the Science Board of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (chairing in 2013).
Dr. Nelson is author of the bestselling Strong Women books, a series of ten—five of which were New York Times bestsellers—that have sold more than one million copies in 14 languages. She also authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific studies, research papers, and policy reports, many of them introducing groundbreaking findings. Dr. Nelson has been quoted extensively and included as a featured expert in the press, including on The Today Show, Nova, and National Public Radio, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico.
Dr. Nelson has received more than a dozen honors and awards over her career.
Dr. Nelson holds a bachelor of science from the University of Vermont and a PhD from Tufts University.