Willard “Bill” D. Nielsen was elected to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Board of Trustees in January 2011.
Nielsen, a public relations and corporate communications authority, is currently a consultant to management of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. He retired as corporate vice president of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in December 2004, after serving 17 years with the company, where he was the chief public relations and corporate communications officer. He joined J&J in 1988, following 18 years as a public relations agency consultant with Carl Byoir & Associates and Hill and Knowlton. In addition to executive roles in agency management, he specialized in corporate communications and crisis management in such industries as consumer finance, insurance, defense, biotech, and airlines.
Nielsen served two terms as president of the Arthur W. Page Society and was inducted into that organization’s Hall of Fame in September 2003. He served on its board of trustees for 17 years and continues as chair of the Society’s Honors Committee. He also chaired the boards of The Seminar and the Institute for Public Relations and continues as an emeritus director. He is a member of The Wisemen and the Public Relations Society of America. He served as a trustee of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, organizer of Character Counts, for 18 years. Nielsen was a trustee of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and a board director of the Foundation of Children’s Hospital, National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
In addition to his consulting work, Nielsen is a frequent guest lecturer at public relations and corporate communications graduate programs at universities across the country. He also serves in industry-sponsored PR leadership training programs and is chairman of the advisory board of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University. He was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame in December 2014. Continuing his work in health care communications, he is a pro-bono advisor to the TEDMED conferences.
Following graduation from Oregon State University, Nielsen served in the U.S. Air Force as a public information officer in Washington, D.C., and Japan.