Two Wheaton alumni have recently received honorable distinctions. Molly D. Shepard ’68 was awarded the 2017 Woman One award by the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership of Drexel University College of Medicine, and Brent F. Nelsen ‘81, professor of political science at Furman University, was appointed to a second term as a member of the Board of the Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Each year, the Woman One program recognises one woman from Philadelphia for outstanding leadership in the community and “raises tuition funds for talented and underrepresented women in medicine studying at Drexel University College of Medicine,” according to the program’s website. Shepard “embodies” the institute’s commitment to improving women’s health and the roles of women in leadership, Drexel University said in a news release.
Shepard is the president and CEO of Leader’s Edge/Leaders by Design, an organization originally designed to address the “limited representation of women” in business leadership, but which now offers leadership development services to “executive and high-potential leaders.” The program lauds her work as co-chair for Women Against MS, an organization raising funds for multiple sclerosis research. She is also a member of the board of directors for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Greater Delaware Valley Chapter.
Nelsen explained that he has served on the Board of Directors for the CPB since 2013, when President Barack Obama appointed him. The board of directors is necessarily made up of four republicans and four democrats, and one more director of whichever party the president is from. As a Republican nominee, Nelsen’s nomination went through then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell instead of President Obama’s direct choice.
Nelsen looked back on the confirmation for his first term of four years in 2013, when Congress was “clogged up with partisan appointments,” such as judicial appointments. His confirmation was a part of a package deal to speed through nonpartisan appointments, such as high-ranking military personnel. He hopes to be confirmed for his second term as the lame duck congress finishes up its term, though he says the “politically polarized” environment of congress makes it less clear what, if anything will be accomplished.
As a member on the board of CPB, Nelsen’s responsibility is to help oversee the allocation of government funds for public broadcasting to individual local affiliates of organizations like NPR and PBS. He visits local stations and shows national support and encouragement to such stations. His primary job as a professor of political science at Furman University affords him “ideal” flexibility for his work in the government.
Nelsen also is the chair of the South Carolina Educational Television Commission, a role that entails many very similar responsibilities to the CPB, but at a state level. He feels that this is where he has the “biggest impact” because state-level government affects people “a lot more” than national government.
Nelsen is hopeful about his confirmation by Congress and looks forward to another six-year term as a director of the CPB.