Robert A. Nelson
Class of 2017
Robert (Rob) A. Nelson was born in New Orleans on January 29, 1966, to Allan Nelson and Judith L. Sutherlin along with brothers Michael, Roy and Edward. After graduating as salutatorian of St. Paul’s School, Rob continued his studies at Tulane University where he received a BS in Management in 1988. Thinking he wanted to be a practicing attorney, Rob went on to receive his JD from Louisiana State University Law Center in 1992.
Rob married Virginia Corrigan in 2005, having grown up together in the same neighborhood. He has four children, Regan, Sydney, Melita and Ran. In addition to being a scholar, Rob showed his strong work ethic at a young age, loading trucks at the age of six and going to work with his father on weekends.
Rob’s father was the son of Roy Nelson who purchased Elmer Candy Corp. in 1963. Rob’s first paid position with the family business was as a maintenance helper and later mixed bathes of crèmes on the night shift. After completing his law degree, Rob officially joined Elmer Candy as Marketing Director and General Counsel in 1992, becoming the Vice-President and Coo in 1996, President and CEO in 2004 and Chairman in 2006. In 2016, Rob completed the largest expansion of the company in its 161-year history with a vision of being the most efficient gift chocolate manufacturer in the world.
Coming from a major sugar growing state, Rob has a unique perspective on U.S. sugar policy, which propelled him to get involved in industry associations. He says being active is critical to maintaining a legal and social license to operate. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that Rob served on the NCA Board as far back as 1996, having sat on the Executive Board, Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. Since then, he has continued to serve on numerous committees including the Financial Growth Task Force and the Strategic Planning Committee.
Rob was instrumental in founding The Confectionery Foundation in 2011, and currently serves as Vice-Chairman. He was recognized for his industry contributions as a kettle Award Nominee in 2015.
Seeing the company as a platform to make a difference in his community, Rob has been committed to making the communities of metro New orleans better places to live, in part, by providing sustainable, higher paying jobs. Rob served on the Board of the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, on the Contemporary Arts Center of New orleans, and as the Strategic Resource Chair and Forum Chair for the Young Presidents organizations, Louisiana chapter since 2004. He was awarded the Junior Achievement Rising Start in 2005. In 2016, he had the honor of being named the Louisiana Strawberry Festival Grand Marshal in recognition for his leadership in the Tangipahoa Parish community.
As an instrument-rated pilot, Rob loves to fly and is a devoted father.