The Ohio State University – B.A. in Education
Ashland University, Master’s Degree
An Ohio native, Cathy Nelson retired from Columbus City Schools after 33 years, where she was a Peer Assistance and Review Consultant.
Founder and president emeritus of the Friends of Freedom Society, an organization whose focus is Underground Railroad research, she also founded the Ohio Underground Railroad Association, comprising regional coordinators and county researchers from around the state who research, document, and preserve the history of the Underground Railroad in Ohio, and has helped set up similar organizations in six states.
Cathy has been an advisor to the Ohio Historical Society’s Ohio Village program and is a trustee of Columbus Landmarks Foundation and the Columbus Historical Society. A docent at the Kelton House, an Underground Railroad station in downtown Columbus, and a member of the Livingston House, home of abolitionist Alexander Livingston, she is also a living history interpreter and Civil War re-enactor.
Cathy has spoken on the Underground Railroad and her groups’ efforts at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In 2003, she was honored as one of the Columbus YWCA’s Women of Achievement, and received the Junior League of Columbus’s Community Volunteer Award. Inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003, she is also a recipient of the Columbus Education Association’s Helen Jenkins Davis Award for promotion of social justice, diversity, and human and civil rights. Cathy, her husband, Kent, and daughter live in Columbus.
Serving second term; term ends 2015.