Bill Nielsen is a consultant to management of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. He specializes in corporate communications, public relations, public affairs, corporate coaching and organizational vision and values, drawing on experience gained over 30 years in both industry and agency positions.
He retired as Corporate Vice President of Johnson & Johnson in December 2004, after serving 17 years with the Company. As an officer of the Corporation reporting to its chairman and ceo, he was the chief public relations and corporate communications officer for the widely diversified and decentralized “family” of 200+ operating companies in 57 countries in the fields of pharmaceuticals and biotech, medical devices and diagnostics and consumer products.
He joined Johnson & Johnson in 1988, following 18 years as a public relations agency consultant, first with Carl Byoir & Associates, from 1970 to 1986, and then 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.
Mr. Nielsen is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is chairman of the Advisory Board of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications, and also serves on the Board of Advisors for the TEDMED conferences.
Mr. Nielsen’s professional accomplishments include leadership of an eight-year public relations and advertising education program for the pharmaceutical industry, and a nationwide child injury prevention campaign, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. This 30-year campaign is credited with helping to reduce the annual rate of unintended injury and death among children by more than 50 percent. Programs he supervised won four PRSA Silver Anvils.
Mr. Nielsen continues to be active in the leadership of PR professional organizations. He served two terms as president (chairman) of the Arthur W. Page Society and was inducted into that organization’s Hall of Fame in September 2003. He served on the Society’s board of trustees for 18 years. He is a past chairman of The Seminar. He also chaired the board of the Institute for Public Relations and continues as an emeritus director, and served on the Board of Directors of the Global Public Affairs Institute. He is a member of, The Wisemen and the Public Relations Society of America. In October 2003, Mr. Nielsen held the honor of delivering the Vernon C. Schranz Lecture at Ball State University. In November 2005, Mr. Nielsen delivered the 44th Annual Distinguished Lecture for The Institute for Public Relations, and in 2006 he delivered the Institute’s Annual International Lecture in London.
Mr. Nielsen was a Trustee of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for ten years, and a Board Director of the Foundation of Children’s Hospital, National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., for eight years. He also served as a trustee of the Josephson Institute of Ethics for 15 years.
Currently, in addition to his consulting work, Mr. 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. Mr. Nielsen is a native of Sacramento, California. Following graduation from Oregon State University, he served for five years as a public information officer with the U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C., and Japan. He is married and is the father of three daughters. He and his wife, Doris, live in Maryland where they are active in community service.