William J. Nelson Named 2018 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

August 7, 2017


Jarrod Nagurka, ACTE

William J. Nelson Named 2018 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and its Board of Directors have announced the winner of the 2018 ACTE Business Leader of the Year award as William J. Nelson, whose decades in business, education and organizational leadership have been dedicated to building the future of career and technical education (CTE). The ACTE Business Leader of the Year award celebrates the contributions and achievements of an executive from the business community who has demonstrated a solid and sustained commitment to improving CTE.

Nelson is currently an independent consultant who works with a broad range of educational and agricultural organizations as they address future needs and opportunities. He previously served more than two decades as vice president of Corporate Citizenship for CHS Inc. and president of the independent CHS Foundation. CHS is the nation’s leading cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods business. During his tenure with CHS, Nelson strengthened and forged new and innovative partnerships among cooperatives, educational institutions and industry organizations which contributed to the advancement of career and technical education. Among his accomplishments in support of the next generation of CTE leaders were spearheading funding commitments from both the CHS Foundation and CHS Corporate Citizenship which helped support CTE efforts at universities and colleges across the U.S. Focuses included preparing future agricultural educators, developing STEM curriculum, renovating classrooms, and providing professional development to students. Nelson’s professional and personal efforts also have supported organizations such as National FFA, the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA), the National Association for Agricultural Education (NAAE), and the National Teach Ag Campaign, among others. From middle schools to four-year colleges, his efforts have helped strengthen the entire CTE ecosystem.

Nelson’s impressive record includes current or past service on the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Executive Education Committee, the National Cooperative Business Association Board of Directors, and the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America Board. Nelson also served as the CHS representative to the STEM Food and Ag Council and as a member of the Farm Foundation’s steering committee for a Dialogue on Food and Agriculture in the 21st Century. He previously was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota-Waseca, where he focused on education around agriculture, cooperatives, entrepreneurship and rural leadership. His many years of services centered on connecting students to real-world knowledge and experiences.

William is the face of the agriculture cooperative world to agriculture educators and the FFA, said Cliff Vrieze, a retired farm business management instructor at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. His humble legacy of generous CTE and agriculture education support will be felt by CTE educators well into the future.

William’s ability to reach across all sectors to form new partnerships, strengthen ties, and create innovation is commendable, said Ginny Karbowski, Minnesota ACTE Awards Chair and the Program Director for Minnesota State Colleges & Universities. Today’s CTE programs across the nation are stronger because of his influence and leadership.

Nelson will be recognized alongside other national ACTE award winners on Dec. 6, at the annual ACTE Awards Banquet during ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. VISION is ACTE’s signature event, with more than 4,000 CTE professionals from across the country. For more information on the Excellence Awards and the Awards Banquet, visit https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/acte-excellence-awards/.


About ACTE The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.