Claire A. Nelson, Ph.D.


Dr. Claire Nelson is the Ideation Leader of the Futures Forum, a thought leadership practice which promotes and conducts strategic foresight and integral development consulting, with a particular interest in global challenges.  She is also President of the Board of Development Foresight Institute, a strategic future think tank based in the Caribean.  Since founding the Futures Forum in 2004, she has convened/facilitated several public fora on strategic foresight including Caribbean Vision 2020; the inaugural Youth Forum of the World Future Society; the African Futures Program of the  African American Unity Caucus (AAUC), and a Special Youth Dialogue on the Future at the Inter-American Development Bank.  A Member of the International Editorial Board of the World Future Society, she also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Alternative Futures.

Dr. Nelson has been actively engaged in the business of international development for almost thirty years at the Inter-American Development Bank, amassing experience in the ideation and development of technical assistance programs across a wide variety of sectors including public sector modernization, private sector development, community development, and trade development.  The first female engineer of African descent hired by the IDB, Dr. Nelson was a diversity pioneer and a thought leader serving to initiate many programs such as the Bank’s work in the private sector of  Guyana and the hinterlands of Suriname, and intellectual property in the Caribbean.   A trailblazer, she was honored with the IDB’s prestigious Ortiz Mena Award for placing the topic of social exclusion due to race and ethnicity on the agenda of the Washington international finance institutions, leading the first ever study on Blacks in Latin America for a multilateral development institution.

As a result of her pioneering work on development with equity for Blacks in Latin America, Nelson was invited to the prestigious Salzburg Seminar four times including serving as Faculty at the Session on Leadership Across Cultural Boundaries and Geographic Borders in 2003.   She was named a Fellow at the  Bellagio Consultation on the UN World Conference on Racism (UNWCAR), organized by Global Rights, which brought together 40 global leaders to construct a vision for the outcomes of the UNWCAR.   As a result, of her leadership in promoting the right to development, she was one of twenty-five leaders featured in the publication “Journey to Durban”, as people to watch on the issue of global economic justice, and honored by the Afro-descendent community in Peru as a hero of the Black Movement.

She is a sought-after speaker.   Her speaking engagements have included organizations such as: ASME, CARICOM/Africa Union Conference in Barbados; World Bank African Diaspora Outreach Forum; National Association of Security Professionals; Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference;  Black Engineer of the Year Conference; Harvard University Black MBA Association Conference; Women & Micro-Enterprise Conference, African Development Bank (Ivory Coast);  Morgan State University Convocation; African-Canadian Legal Clinic;  High Commission of South Africa (Ottawa); South Carolina State University; Florida International University; Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce; World Futures Society; Jamaica Stock Exchange; and the Jamaica Employers Federation.

Dr. Nelson is also Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS).  Under her leadership, the non-profit community think/do-tank, founded in 1993, has become known as the leading Caribbean American advocacy group in Washington DC and has succeeded in placing the Caribbean American agenda on the national policy stage.   She is the visionary behind the successful Campaign to declare June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.  ICS also pioneered: White House Caribbean American Community Briefings; the Annual Caribbean American Legislative Forum on Capitol Hill; and the Caribbean American Leadership Dialogue: Invest Caribbean which focuses on economic development and investment opportunities in the Caribbean.

Dr. Nelson has served on numerous Boards and Committees including: US Department of Commerce US/Caribbean Business Development Council; Black Leadership Forum; Commission on Pan-African Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados; Co-Chair, Policy Committee, African American Unity Caucus; Board, Black Professionals in International Affairs; Advisory Board, Caribbean Political Action Committee; Advisory Board, Renewable Energy Alliance; Advisory Board, DC Caribbean Carnival; and Advisory Board, Afro-America XXI US.  She is the winner of numerous Awards and Honors, and has received commendations in the US Congressional Record.

An award-winning playwright and performance artiste, Nelson, the author of several plays and unofficial cultural ambassador of Caribbean folklore,  is considered a renaissance woman.  She is distinguished as the first Jamaican woman to earn a Doctorate in an Engineering discipline, and graduated in the Top Five of her undergraduate class, and as  the only woman of African descent.  Dr. Nelson holds a Bachelors and Masters in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Purdue University respectively, and a Doctorate in Engineering Management from the George Washington University, and is a member of the Tau Beta Pi and Alpha Pi Mu Engineering Honor Societies.