As a member of the first graduating class at The Madeleine Choir School in 1997, Amanda Nelson looks back on that year and describes it as an “enlightening experience.”
That formative year set the tone for her education expectations moving forward. “The integration of music, visual arts and foreign language in the curriculum kindled an interest in learning that hadn’t existed before,” she reflects, “and an eagerness for academic challenge.”
Nelson went on to attend The University of Richmond in Virginia and thrived in the liberal arts environment while involved in the newspaper, student government and as a member of the Division I track and field team.
After moving to Washington, D.C. Nelson worked at Orr Associates, Inc., a firm focused on the nonprofit sector. Nelson specialized in marketing and development and built a particular interest in board development and management.
In 2008 Nelson was employed at The Wharton School of Business in board relations and managed the School’s six executive boards. While there she developed fundraising, leadership and structural strategies for the boards. She also focused on diversity recruitment and worked with the international boards to expand the School’s initiatives in Latin America, Europe and Asia. While at Wharton she traveled to Mexico, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. As a relationship manager, she had the opportunity to meet with incredible business leaders and government officials across the globe.
During a trip to Paris, she met with a CEO of a private healthcare company who told her about his favorite place in the entire world - Bryce Canyon National Park. Nelson ecstatically told him she was from Utah and he asked how a country girl from Utah came to represent Wharton globally. “It was a humbling moment, but taught me the strength in talking about where I’m from as a way to connect across cultures. People have so much pride in their heritage and are happy to share it with someone who is genuinely interested and in awe the way I am.”
In sharing this experience, Nelson recalled her very first international trip: as a 14-year old chorister on a Choir School tour of Italy in 1997. The trip had a lasting impression on Nelson that launched a passion for new experiences and people. “It was amazing and we were amazing in our performances. It was a pilgrimage and it was freezing and there were so many of us. But it was the first time I experienced history and heard other languages, the art and architecture, the people, the food, the lifestyle, it was so very different than my little world in Utah, and I got to see it so young. I still thought about that trip every time I boarded a plane to leave the U.S.”