New leader, bolder direction for growing ALEC


By M.D. Kittle |

MADISON, Wis. — The limited government movement has a new leader.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has tapped Lisa B. Nelson to serve as chief executive officer of the nation’s largest nonpartisan organization of state legislators.

Nelson, a former Visa Inc. executive and aide to Newt Gingrich, comes to ALEC from McLean, Va.-based Ulysses Consulting, where she served as managing partner, providing counsel to nonprofits and associations on coalition building and marketing development, according to her biography.

NEW CHIEF: Lisa B. Nelson, a former Visa executive, has been tapped to serve as the CEO of the growing American Legislative Exchange Council.

Nelson succeeds ALEC Executive Director Ron Scheberle, and is charged with driving the strategic direction of the model state-legislation organization, according to a statement released to She will be working with “public and private sector leaders throughout the United States to increase the impact of the organization’s limited government, free market and federalism priorities.”

Liberals and big-government advocates will take little comfort in the new chief executive for ALEC, the conservative lightning rod for the left in recent years.

Iowa state Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, who serves as the state House’s majority leader and as national chairwoman of ALEC, said Nelson’s work in state and national policy, as well as her experience building organizational infrastructure, is a “perfect fit” for ALEC as the organization “strengthens its focus” on limited government, free markets and federalism.

“I am excited that as ALEC members work to return decision making to the states, Lisa will provide leadership and direction to the organization and a renewed commitment to finding solutions to challenges facing our states,” Upmeyer said in a statement issued Monday.

Nelson boasts an impressive resume. During her eight years as the director of global government relations for Visa, Nelson transformed the small domestic division into an “integrated, multinational function,” according to her biography.

She also served as senior vice president for external relations at AOL Time Warner, public affairs liaison to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and executive director of GOPAC, the GOP’s state and local political training organization.

Gingrich, in a statement, said Nelson was a “key leader” at GOPAC in developing the Contract with America, the Republican’s sweeping reforms of the mid-1990s.

“She is a great leader with a deep public policy interest and a real understanding of innovation,” Gingrich said. “She will greatly enhance ALEC’s ability to serve state legislators.”

Nelson said she is enthusiastic about leading 40-year-old ALEC, and building on its “rich history of creating opportunity in states and communities through nonpartisan policy research and analysis.”

“At a time when the American people are calling for change, our unique public-private partnership is highly relevant and poised for growth,” Nelson said in the statement.