Sarah Nelson

Senior Research Associate

  • Staff
  • Butler Institute for Families


tribal child welfare

Professional Biography

Sarah manages research and evaluation activities for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. A proud "multipotentialite," Sarah wanted to be everything when she grew up. She began pre-med studies at Michigan Technological University only to discover that her biggest weakness was Physics 101. Finding a middle ground between hard and soft sciences, she graduated with a BS in psychology. Sarah became a personal trainer and quickly recognized the numerous barriers to access in her work, so she began offering fitness classes at no cost and applying to social work programs. Sarah obtained her MSW and MPH degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, concentrating on biostatistics and health education with American Indian populations. Starting her career as a child protective services caseworker in rural South Texas, Sarah was driven by an incredible supervisor to develop her leadership skills. As she moved up the career ladder and farther west, Sarah led daring teams that offered dynamic services as deputy director of Denver Indian Family Resource Center and program director at After-School All-Stars Las Vegas.

Sarah grew up in a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and after 23 years traded shoveling and snow days for the bright lights and scorching hot summers of Las Vegas, Nevada. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys getting lost in deserts, minimal technology, and video games.


MSW, Washington University in St. Louis

MPH, Washington University in St. Louis

BS, Michigan Technological University

Licensure / Accreditations