Director, Environmental Affairs, Northwest Indiana Forum
6100 Southport Road
Portage, IN 46368
Kay Nelson is a 1977 graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the School of Agriculture in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. In the pursuit of her degree, Ms. Nelson focused upon water quality issues.
Upon graduation, Ms. Nelson began her career with the City of East Chicago, Indiana Sanitary District. During her eighteen years tenure with the city, Ms. Nelson was instrumental in the development of the Industrial Pretreatment Program – a water quality program dedicated to protecting the receiving streams and Lake Michigan.
In the late 1980s, Ms. Nelson served as the Grant Administrator for the Wastewater Treatment and Pumping Station Construction project. The resulting tertiary wastewater treatment plant which utilizes an ultraviolet disinfection process, rather than traditional chlorination treatment, in conjunction with the successful Industrial Pretreatment Program has resulted in freshwater salmon spawning in the Sanitary District outfall and the presence of a rare freshwater sponge colony growing in the effluent chambers.
As East Chicago is a landlocked community, Ms. Nelson was integral in the early days of Brownfield Redevelopment. In each of these roles, Ms. Nelson worked closely with multiple offices within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region V (Chicago) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). In recognition of Ms. Nelson’s work with the multistakeholders groups within East Chicago, she was selected to participate on the Iron & Steel Sector Common Sense Initiative with US EPA.
Beginning in 1995, Ms. Nelson served as the Regional Office Director for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in Gary, Indiana. This position provided the opportunity to expand her work with multistakeholders groups in a larger geographical area on various air, water and solid waste permitting issues. It was during her tenure with IDEM that she began a concentrated focus on the Great Lakes Compact development process.
Ms. Nelson joined the Northwest Indiana Forum in 1998. The Northwest Indiana Forum is a non-profit regional economic development organization. Currently, the Forum has 123 members representing a diverse base of small business, municipalities, health care, financial institutions, legal firms, local universities and large industry within Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana. In total, the Forum members reflect over $40 Billion in commerce annually on behalf of the state of Indiana. Recognizing the integral relationship between economic development and environmental protection, Ms. Nelson’s role with the Northwest Indiana Forum is diverse.
She is an active participant during the new and/or expanding business process – working to assist understanding by the community large of the impact and importance of economic development. Working on environmental issues affecting existing members, Ms. Nelson provides a forum whereby regional position papers are developed. In this process, Ms. Nelson represents the business community in discussions with environmental and community stakeholders to develop understanding and often consensus on important issues. The successful passage of Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 45 as signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on February 20, 2008 reflects this unique collaboration Ms. Nelson works to affect.
In recognition of her Great Lakes Compact work, Ms. Nelson was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash from Governor Mitch Daniels.
Ms. Nelson serves on multiple regional boards.
- Lake Area United Way Board of Directors (Lake County, Indiana)
- Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center
- Purdue University Calumet Water Institute
- The Times Advisory Board