Jonathan M. Nelson

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Jonathan Nelson
Jonathan Milton Nelson

EducationBrown University
Harvard Business School
OccupationFounder of Providence Equity Partners

Jonathan Milton Nelson (born 1956) is an American businessman and investor. He is the founder of Providence Equity Partners, a global private equity firm based in Providence, Rhode Island, which manages funds with US$40.7 billion (inflation-adjusted) in commitments.[2]

Early life and education[]

Nelson grew up in Providence. He graduated from Brown University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. After graduation, he managed the Chinese division of Wellman, Inc.[3] On returning to the United States, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1983.[4]

Career history[]

In 1983, Nelson joined Narragansett Capital, a private equity firm, where he was a managing director. At Narragansett, he specialized in the broadcasting, cable television and publishing sectors.[5]

In 1989, he founded Providence Equity Partners, a pioneering sector-focused private equity firm. It is the world's leading private equity investment firm focused on media, communications, education, and information investments.[6] He was dubbed the "stealth mogul" by The New York Times for keeping a low profile despite his firm's substantial media holdings.[7]

In 2008, Nelson and other Providence principals launched Providence's credit investment arm with Thomas Gahan of Deutsche Bank.[8] The unit is called Benefit Street Partners, which has US$9.16 billion (inflation-adjusted) under management.[9]

Nelson is on the boards of the Chernin Group, MLS Media, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, Television Broadcasts Ltd and Univision Communications. he has also been a director of Eircom Plc, Hulu, Language Line, MetroNet (now AT&T Canada), VoiceStream Wireless (now Deutsche Telekom), Warner Music Group, (now Alltel Wireless) and Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network.[10]

Philanthropy and other activities[]

Educational philanthropy[]

The Nelson Fitness Center and Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship at Brown University

As of March 2019, Nelson is listed as a Fellow of Brown University, and has previously been a trustee.[11] He has donated at least $36 million to the university, contributing to the construction of the Nelson Fitness Center[12] and establishment of the and endowment of two professorships.[13][14] In 2013, The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art named Nelson the winner of the Arthur Ross Award for Excellence In The Classical Tradition (Patronage) for his guidance of the design and construction of the Nelson Fitness Center.[15] In 2018, Following a $25 million gift from Nelson, Brown established the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship.[14] Nelson is a trustee of Rockefeller University.[16] In August 2014, Harvard Business School gave Nelson an Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the school on its graduates.[17]

Nelson has committed to the Giving Pledge, a campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to encourage the wealthiest people in the United States to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes.[18] He is on the board of the Newport Festivals Foundation. He is an avid sailor and big mountain skier.[1]

See also[]


  1. ^ a b [1],, September 2016; accessed February 13, 2021.
  2. ^ Alistair Smith (October 21, 2013). "Ambassador Theatre Group confirms sale to Providence Equity". The Stage.
    - Devin Banerjee and Meghan Morris (July 9, 2014). "Providence's China Head Said to Leave in Latest Asia Exit". Bloomberg News.
  3. ^ Mehta, Stephanie. "Inside a record-breaking $51 billion buyout". CNN Money. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  4. ^ "Jonathan M. Nelson, MBA 1983 - Alumni - Harvard Business School". Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  5. ^ "Speaker Profile: Jonathan Nelson". Miliken Institute. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  6. ^ "Members - PEGCC". Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  7. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross. "They're Just a Bunch of Regular Media Moguls". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  8. ^ Ken MacFadyen (June 21, 2010). "Providence Expands Capital Markets Arm". Leveraged Finance News. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  9. ^ Julie Segal (November 12, 2014). "Tommy Gahan Wants to Capitalize on Volatility". Institutional Investor.
  10. ^ "Executive Profile: Jonathan Nelson". Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Brown Corporation elects one fellow, seven trustees". Brown University. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  12. ^ "Providence Equity's Jonathan Nelson Named to Fortune 400". GoLocalProv. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  13. ^ Kaplan, Jennifer. "New U. fund supports interdisciplinary efforts". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Buchsbaum, Shira (2016-02-01). "Nelson '77 seeds entrepreneurship center". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  15. ^ "The Classicist". Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  16. ^ "Jonathan Nelson". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  17. ^ "2014 Alumni Achievement Awards". Harvard University. August 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Sweet, Ken. "Two Private Equity Billionaires Sign Buffett's and Gates' Giving Pledge". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 27, 2012.

External links[]

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