Anne Ford Nelson

CSB '73

CSB Has the "Complete Formula for Producing Successful Women"

When retired CSB Trustee chair Anne Ford Nelson arrived at the College of Saint Benedict as a first-year student, she flew eagerly out of her mother’s car with barely a look back, she said, and into a college experience that she had been dreaming of since sixth grade. That first day she rolled up her sleeves and helped other students move in, and went on to run for class president, knowing that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Nelson’s older sister Sue ’68 had attended Saint Ben’s, and Nelson, as an 8th grader, had come to visit here on campus. “After that, I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else,” Nelson said. In fact, she didn’t apply to any other schools. Her brother Mike Ford went to Saint John’s Prep, while her brother John Ford ’67 went to Saint John’s University.

Nelson’s experience at Saint Ben’s laid a solid foundation for a rewarding career, she said. Now a vice president and wealth management specialist for Wells Fargo, Nelson majored in psychology with a minor in economics and went on to study at the American Institute of Banking and Cannon Financial Institute. She is passionate about the benefits of the CSB education. “Research still bears out that women thrive in a single-sex educational environment,” Nelson said. “It is a very competitive world out there, and women still need an edge.” With the joint mission with Saint John’s University, she noted, CSB women have all the benefits of a co-educational experience and none of the drawbacks. “When added to the residential, liberal arts, Catholic, Benedictine characteristics of the CSB education, with the supportive influence of the monastic community,” Nelson explained, “you have a complete formula for producing successful women.”

First CSB Alumna to Chair Board of Trustees Was First at A lot of Things

Nelson is the first CSB alumna to be Chair of the Board of Trustees, carrying on a lifetime of trailblazing. She became the first woman president of the St. Paul Jaycees in a challenge that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting a precedent that made female membership in Jaycees, Rotary and Kiwanis possible. “My experiences at Saint Ben’s led me to that,” Nelson said, crediting her calm resolve to try new things to the people at Saint Ben’s who believed in her. “It was a chance to fly with a safety net,” she said. “When I fell, people like Sister Mary Mark, now Sister Grace, would pick me up, pat me on the back and send me off to try again.”

While the foundation that CSB provides its graduates remains strong, Nelson said, life after college is remarkably different. Women have more fields open to them now and have different expectations. “I believe that the College of Saint Benedict is well positioned to take our graduates into this new century. Our Benedictine Catholic values remain important-to the board, to the faculty and to the students. We know who we are,” Nelson said. “By capping enrollment, for example we have put a stake in the ground and said that we won’t grow at any cost. What we do works.”

Reprinted from College of Saint Benedict, Spring 2001