Hammer Residences mourns the loss of CEO Tim Nelson

Tim Nelson has passed away. Submitted photo.

Hammer Residences, Inc. is saddened to announce the death of their  CEO, Tim Nelson. He passed away Tuesday, August 16, while on vacation in Colorado  at the age of 58. Nelson had been an employee of Hammer for  34 years. “Hammer has lost an amazing leader, co-worker and friend in Tim. We have all lost a great man and advocate, who made this world a better place, not only for the people we serve with developmental disabilities, but for everyone,” said Lisbeth Armstrong, Hammer’s Director of Program Services, who has been named interim CEO of Hammer. Nelson started working for Hammer in 1977 as a direct support professional. He  was appointed CEO in 1998 after having served Hammer in a variety of capacities. Armstrong, who worked closely with him for most of those years, said “Tim had such a passion for the people we support. It was his dream that each person we serve has love, joy and peace in their life.” During his tenure as CEO,  Nelson  worked tirelessly to elevate Hammer as a visionary organization that employs dedicated staff members who help people with disabilities experience the highest possible quality of life and independence.  

Under Nelson’s leadership, Hammer was named a Top Ten Minnesota Workplace by The Star Tribune in 2010 and 2011. In, 2010 Hammer was also named a “Top 50 Places to Work” in a national survey conducted by the Nonprofit Times, a national publication for nonprofit executives. In June, 2011, Nelson received a Changemaker Award from The Arc Greater Twin Cities for his efforts in changing systems and policies that benefit individuals with disabilities and their families. Nelson was a strong advocate and visionary for people with developmental  disabilities. He was the current board president of The Arc of Minnesota, where he advanced public policy efforts locally and at the federal level. Pat Mellenthin, The Arc Minnesota’s Chief Executive Officer said “Tim was a superb leader for The Arc Minnesota and an exceptional human being. His passing is a huge loss for The Arc Minnesota and The Arc movement, and he will long be remembered for his leadership in the disability community.” He also served as the former vice-president and board member at ARRM. “Tim was one of the truly great leaders in the disability community,” said ARRM CEO, Bruce Nelson.

Nelson was a member of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), where he served on the International Program Committee. He was a member of The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) Board and served on its Executive and Quality Committees. He has served on several other boards of directors for organizations that provide various services to people with developmental disabilities. Nelson had also participated on several MN Department of Human Services (DHS) task forces.  Current  Hammer  Board President, Jon Matejcek says, “Tim created a culture of excellence that any organization – non-profit or otherwise – would be lucky to have. He was never satisfied with the status quo, always encouraging others to express their ideas and opinions, even when they differed from his own.  His leadership and vision for Hammer, and for the disabilities community at large, will truly be missed.”

Tim Nelson is survived by his wife, Jean Nelson, and two children and one grandchild. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized. Hammer Residences, Inc. was founded by Alvina Hammer in 1923.  Hammer provides personalized services for  individuals with disabilities in the Twin Cities.  Hammer’s mission: to provide adults and children with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience life to its fullest.

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