In memory of our co-founders, Charles E. “Chuck” Dell (1919-2019) and John E. Nelson (1947-2020).
Charles E. Dell graduated from the University of Chicago (Lab) High School in 1938 and Dartmouth College in 1942 with a joint major in economics, political science, and sociology. In 1941, in his junior year in college, he joined Camp William James during its brief existence as an experimental model camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Following graduation he served four years in the US army, including duty as a tank destroyer officer during two years’ service in Europe. After the war he worked first in the Tractor Works of International Harvester Company in Chicago and later with the Dodge Motor Company in Detroit where he was active in the local UAW/CIO union. In 1951 he received his Masters in Public Administration degree from the University of Michigan and joined the Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. The major part of his government career was with the Department of Education where he became the program management officer charged with overseeing Title I elementary and secondary project activities for the educationally disadvantaged in 25 states. In the 1960’s and 1970’s he co-founded and served as president of the federally funded Saunders B. Moon Community Action Association and Northern Virginia Fair Housing, Inc. After retiring in 1981, Chuck co-founded the Unitarian Universalist Affordable Housing Corporation which financed the construction and renovation of hundreds of low income housing units in the Washington DC – Baltimore area. He was married for 45 years to the late Ruth Dell who was a psychologist and vice chair of the Fairfax County School Board. He had two sons and three grandchildren. Chuck passed away in 2019.
John E. Nelson was the co-founder of William James Foundation and the co-founder and director of Wall Street Without Walls. Mr. Nelson always worked in community development and environmental preservation and was frustrated at the way most nonprofit groups faced an erratic funding stream from foundations and government grants. In 1998, at a Rockefeller Foundation gathering on ways to link nonprofits to capital markets, he met Greg Stanton, a Wall Street investment banker, who had founded an organization of financiers eager to donate their Wall Street expertise. Mr. Nelson has engaged national financial institutions including the Federal Reserve Bank system to give non-profits access to more than $1 billion of new mission capital since 2000. More than 2,500 professionals and 1,000 community organizations have taken on projects such as financing 1,000 units of workforce housing in Washington DC; creating a mortgage loan system for immigrant home purchasers; leveraging under-used federal assets to back a $1.1 billion infrastructure bond in New Orleans; and designing a national investment fund for micro-enterprise organizations. John passed away in 2020.