News, blogs, events

Mark Nelson Named Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State

February 13, 2013 1:00 PM


Mark Nelson Named Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State

Rohnert Park, CA- School of Business and Economics dean, Dr. William Silver, announced Mark Nelson has been hired as the Hugh Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State University. Nelson, the former President and COO of the Nelson Family of Companies, begins the new position immediately, working with faculty, students and community organizations to develop and deliver on a number of entrepreneurial initiatives that are already underway.

"Sonoma State is a treasure just waiting to blossom to new heights. There are countless opportunities here," said Nelson. "I'm looking forward to making a difference in students' lives, infusing hope and excitement, and developing a new kind of thinking." Nelson brings to the position a broad perspective on entrepreneurship, its potential for students, and its place in higher education. 
mark_nelson.jpg"Believe it or not, entrepreneurs are created, not born. In today's world of incessant change, we have to own that WE are our own product and service. When you really think about it, a new graduate's career is the ultimate start-up," he explained. Creating a vibrant community, developing a sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, as well as developing and delivering innovative programs and processes are express goals for the campus-wide initiative.  

Richard Senghas, professor of Anthropology and vice-chair of the Academic Senate, who also served on the search committee that interviewed the candidates, said that Nelson brings an entrepreneurial spirit that "...goes beyond any narrow 'making money' model" and instead emphasizes building relationships among groups who can act on opportunities. "Together, this university partnership provides environments where people from different backgrounds and perspectives can work together to build something new. These principles of entrepreneurship apply equally to the for-profit, the non-profit, and the benefit corporation sectors, --often by having those sectors work collaboratively with each other."  

"In Mark, we have found a champion for entrepreneurship, not only at the University, but in the North Bay," concluded Dean Silver. "As president of a family business that grew from $56 million to nearly $400 million in revenues, he led teams with an entrepreneurial perspective, while supplying the talent that fueled the boom. Ultimately, we want to launch entrepreneurial businesses and careers out of Sonoma State. Mark's first-hand experience, his passion for education, and deep relationships with some of the most innovative companies in the world located right here in the North Bay can help us do that."

Nelson emphasized that his role is to fuel collaboration and that the vision for the initiative must be a shared one. "My hope is to create some awareness, energy, programs and opportunities for those wanting to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit."


For more information, please contact:
Annemarie Brown, 707-664-2221,

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy. Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond.  With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. For more information, visit

Mark Nelson Biography
Prior to establishing an entrepreneurial capital, advisory and consulting firm in April of 2009 (, Mark Nelson spent twenty years building businesses for the Nelson Family of Companies (NFC), a workforce management and talent acquisition company based in Northern California.

Named President and Chief Operating Officer in 1995, NFC grew revenue from $56 million to nearly $400 million by the end of 2007, while offering a host of new products and services in the human capital space. Working with some of the most highly discriminating clientele in Northern California, Mark has served as a trusted advisor for companies like Google, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Bank of the West, Clorox, Gilardi and Co., Trinchero Family Estates, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Bank of America, and countless others.

A graduate of the University of San Francisco in 1985 with a B.S. in accounting, Mark began his career spending three years in the San Francisco office of Price Waterhouse and Company. He is a California certified public accountant (CPA) and has certificated course work in the area of "Strategic Uses of Information Technology" from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

An avid philanthropist and dedicated community supporter, Mark has served on many non-profit boards over the years, supporting and representing organizations like Bread and Roses (Former Board Chair), Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster (Former Board Chair), Sir Francis Drake High School Scholarship Foundation (Current Board Member), Lifehouse, American Red Cross (Real Heroes Honorary Chair 2008), Hospice, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce (Board), USF Accounting Alumni Association (Board), Senior Access, and many more.

About Codding
Codding is an investment holding company with investments in commercial real estate, a commercial construction company, alternative energy and a subsidiary that develops deeply sustainable mixed-use communities. One of its largest is Sonoma Mountain Village, a planned 200 acre, mixed-use, solar powered, zero waste community, internationally recognized as the first One Planet Community in North America and one of the World's Greenest Neighborhoods.

Hugh built his first house on speculation and later parlayed his $400 Navy discharge pay into development projects, eventually building one of California's first under-one-roof shopping centers and creating Montgomery Village and Coddingtown. He also took his innovative approach to other ventures including savings and loans, title companies, and a weekly newspaper. Time Magazine featured Hugh as a rising star of the post-war boom.

Today, Codding is led by visionaries Brad Baker and Lisa Codding. They, along with a team of experts and professionals, work together in making strategic decisions with respect, trust and vision for the environment. "Our support for entrepreneurship at Sonoma State is a logical match. At Codding, we're interested in building sustainable communities and we need young entrepreneurs with the skill and drive to launch the businesses that will make these communities thrive," noted Brad Baker, President of Codding Enterprises.

Connie Codding, president of the Codding Foundation added, "Hugh had a vision; he built a successful company, and also our community.  We're pleased to support the Hugh Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State to grow the next generation of entrepreneurs who can have a positive impact in the region and beyond." Visit for more.

Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 11837