Donna L. Nelson was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Public Utility Commission on August 15, 2008 and named chairman on July 26, 2011. Prior to her appointment, Nelson served as a special assistant and advisor to Governor Perry on energy and telecommunication issues. She also assisted the Governor's Competitiveness Council with the preparation of the Texas 2008 State Energy Plan. She previously served as director of the PUC's telecommunications section and as legal advisor to the PUC chairman.
Nelson sits on the Board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and is a member of the Southwest Power Pool Regional State Committee. She is active with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where she is a member of the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment and the Task Force on Environmental Regulation and Generation. Nelson is a member of the Texas Bioenergy Policy Council and the Texas Broadband Task Force. She is also on the Advisory Board of the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS).
Additionally, Nelson is a former assistant attorney general of Texas, where she specialized in antitrust law. She also worked as a Legislative Assistant to a United States Senator. Nelson is a licensed attorney and a past member of the Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Delays.
Nelson received a bachelor's degree from Black Hills State College and a law degree from Texas Tech University. She resides in Austin with her son, John.