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Marilyn Carlson Nelson

Carlson Holdings
Former Chairman and CEO


Leadership in Diversity Award

Marilyn Carlson Nelson is co-chair of Carlson Holdings and the former chairman and CEO of Carlson which includes such brands as Radisson Blu and Radisson Red Hotels, Country Inns & Suites and Carlson Wagonlit Travel.  More than 100,000 people work under the Carlson brands in 160 countries.

Forbes named Marilyn one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”  U.S. News and World Report recognized her as one of “America’s Best Leaders.”

Marilyn served as co-chair of the World Economic Forum and was co-founder of the Forum’s Women’s Leadership Progamme.  She chaired the National Women’s Business Council which advises the President and Congress on issues supportive of women business owners. 

Under her leadership, Carlson was the first U.S. based, global travel and hospitality company to sign the travel industry’s international Code of Conduct to protect children from sexual exploitation in tourism. Marilyn worked to create a culture of inclusivity at Carlson that increased women’s executive participation to more than 40%.  Marilyn was also a strong advocate for the successful passage of equal marriage rights for Minnesota’s gay citizens.

Marilyn serves on the boards of the UN Global Compact, The National Endowment for Democracy, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and is Vice Chair of the Minnesota Orchestra. She is past chair of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees and a former board member of ExxonMobil and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her humanitarian work including the Oslo Business for Peace Award bestowed by a committee of Nobel Prize winners and the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award.  Marilyn is the author of the bestselling book “How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership.”

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