David Nelson holds a joint appointment with the University of Wisconsin's–Madison's College of Letters and Science and the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association as the Director of Alumni Professional Networks and Career Resources.
In past positions, he served as Vice President of Health Care Reform for Mental Health America, where he led public policy efforts and spearheaded a national "war room" supporting state advocacy on mental health parity, managed care reform, mental health budgets, and access to treatment. He also managed mental health policies for Bristol–Myers Squibb and oversaw company relationships with government agencies, nonprofits, and health-care organizations in Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan. Most recently, Dr. Nelson provided career advising for UW–Madison's departments of International Studies, Political Science, and Sociology. In this capacity, he oversaw the Washington, D.C., Summer Internship and Research Program and taught courses on state legislative politics, career development, and internships.
His publications and research have focused on interest groups, lobbying, and mental health policy.
He holds a Ph.D. in political science from UW–Madison and a master's of public policy from Georgetown University.