Charlotte Bowers Nelson
"With her grace, dignity, intelligence, and
she has led the way in changing the lives
of all women and girls in Iowa."
Laurie Schipper, 2011
Charlotte Bowers Nelson has elevated the status of women and
girls in Iowa through her leadership and advocacy for justice
and equality for everyone. With her grace, dignity, intelligence,
and perseverance, Nelson has addressed issues impacting women
and girls. She was a YWCA teenage program director, Office
Manager of the LWVIA, State Director of the LWVUS "Sex
Equity in Vocational Education" project, and coordinated
the first women’s studies course at Drake University.
For 22 years, she served as the Governor-appointed executive
director of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. With
her knowledge of public policy, she represented women and
girls with legislators, government, and the people of Iowa.
From reforming Iowa’s welfare system, establishing gender
balance on state boards, initiating equity-related legislation
(including naming two state office buildings for women, supporting
family planning , and combating domestic violence and sexual
assault), Nelson led a compassionate, multi-faceted effort
that made a difference. This soft-spoken radical continues
her advocacy on boards like the Iowa CareGivers Association
and Iowa Friends of Legal Services. Her degrees are a Duke
B.A. (summa cum laude), a Columbia M.A., and a Drake M.P.A.
Born in Bristol, Virginia in 1931, and raised in Bristol,
Tennessee, Nelson has lived in Des Moines since 1974. Nelson
was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.