by KELLEY GUSICH | photo by Lauren Nygard Photography

Documenting History

When he was nine years old, Greg Nelson came to Carlsbad from Arizona. His mother had to take two jobs to support the family, so she took the children to the Carlsbad Boys Club. “My first jobs were at the club sweeping the woodshop floor and cleaning the locker room every night,” he shared. When he graduated from Carlsbad High School (CHS) in 1967, Greg was hired as the athletic director and later became the aquatics director. He moved over to San Dieguito Boys & Girls Club for a number of years, then returned to Carlsbad to be the executive director of his now renamed Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad (BGCC). “Since 1959, I have never not been a part of the club!”

volunteer02The BGCC has served over 75,000 boys and girls since its inception in 1952. With the many people who have worked over the past 60 years to keep the club’s doors open for the children of Carlsbad, Greg felt its history had to be preserved. He hired Marilyn Campbell to interview past board members, club members, presidents, and people of the community, and commissioned the chronicle of BGCC. It tells the story of their struggles and victories from the point of view of those who did the work to keep the club alive.

Greg and his wife Barbi recently co-chaired the BGCC Capital Campaign to build a new clubhouse and made the largest donation in the club’s history toward the project. But his philanthropy doesn’t end with the BGCC. The Nelson Charitable Foundation is a supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has made it possible for 25 students to attend institutions of higher education while also supporting summer camps, church camps, and SDSU Aztec Athletics. In 2008 Greg was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame, joining the likes of fellow inductees such as athletes Steve Young and Steve Largent, actors Cuba Gooding, Danny Glover, and Queen Latifah, and even former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

Greg Nelson and his four children are all CHS graduates, and he loves the city, the beaches, the Village, and the people. Greg loves Carlsbad and Carlsbad loves Greg. “I love that people support our community,” he confided, “and all the wonderful organizations that make Carlsbad the winner it is.”

Group: Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad (BGCC)
Mission: Boys & Girls Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of belonging, competence, usefulness, and influence.

Name: Greg Nelson
Community: Carlsbad since 1959
Occupation: Orthopedic entrepreneur, co-founder/president of Donjoy now DJO Global, co-founder and chairman of the board of Breg, Inc., co-founder/CEO/chairman of United Orthopedic Group
Awards & Recognitions: Carlsbad’s “Citizen of the Year” 1991, “Philanthropist of the Year” 2006, Boys & Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee 2008
Family: Wife – Barbi; 4 children; 5 grandchildren
Hobbies: Golf and college basketball. Go Aztecs!