Claudia Nelson was born and spent her youth in the southwest United States, where she grew up riding horses in the sand dunes and deserts just outside the city limits of El Paso, Texas. Over the years her father, a construction engineer, was assigned to large building projects throughout the west, and her family moved from location to location until finally settling in Tucson in 1969. As a first-generation woman college graduate in her family, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Real Estate and Finance from the UArizona's Eller College of Business, and a Master’s degree from the UArizona's American Indian Studies Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. As NPTAO’s director, Nelson brings more than 35 years of experience working with Arizona’s Native communities, complemented by almost 30 years of administrative experience within the University of Arizona system. She enjoys golf and playing guitar in her free time.