Lenora A. Nelson, NCARB
Lenora A. Nelson, NCARB, of Ashland, Nebraska, is a licensed architect with over 20 years of private architectural experience, code regulations, and governmental projects. She is licensed in Nebraska and Maryland. Nelson joined the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects in 2016, and she served as the Board’s Chair in 2019. She currently serves as the Director of the Housing and RV Department of the Nebraska Public Service Commission.
Nelson is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), where she received her Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture.
She also received her URS Corporation Project Management Certification in 2001, and she’s been a Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional for the U.S. Green Building Council since 2006. LEED certification, the most widely used green building rating system globally, demonstrates proficiency in today’s sustainable design, construction, and operational standards.
After spending her professional career on housing and educational projects, Nelson was inspired to focus her professional career on building codes. Throughout her career, Nelson perceives a clear understanding of building codes can lead to successful projects that protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
From 2015 to 2019, Nelson then served as the Building Official, Zoning and Floodplain Administrator, Economic Development Official for the City of Ashland, a population of 2500. In this position, Nelson wore many hats. She oversaw the processing and reviews of all building permit applications, completed all construction-related field inspections, and worked with local boards and elected officials to foster economic growth.
Some small communities may not have a staff member dedicated to permits and construction activities. Through her observation, Isom strives to ensure the Engineers and Architects Regulation Act, rules, and statutes should be clearly communicated to jurisdiction officials and fairly and equally applied to all Nebraska’s municipal jurisdictions.
“As a building official for a smaller community, I bring a unique perspective to the Board regarding code enforcement, plan review, approval process, and collaboration with regulatory agencies,” she said
Nelson expanded her role to a statewide jurisdiction when she joined the Nebraska Public Service Commission as a Housing Design Professional in January 2020. Nelson reviewed plans and inspected all types of housing that were not constructed on-site, including modular housing, manufactured units, and recreational vehicles. In May 2021, Nelson was promoted to her current role as the Director of the Housing and RV Department of the Nebraska Public Service Commission.
The National Council of Architecture Board (NCARB) featured Nelson's roles as a design professional and a building code officials in its article in 2017. She continues to be highly involved in NCARB, in which she has served in the NCARB Examination, NCARB’s National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program (AXP) Portfolio Review committees. In March 2021, Nelson again featured in NCARB's article, in honor of Women's History Month, where she and other architects shared their challenges and rewards of being an architect who has shaped the profession and the community.
In addition to her experience in private and governmental practices, Nelson also had teaching experience under her belt. From 2003 to 2006, she taught mechanical and architectural drawing courses to primary and secondary students at Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. She was an adjunct faculty member at the Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, from 2014 to 2017, where she taught architectural design technology, introduction to AutoCAD, and Revit software courses. From 2019 to 2020, she was a lecturer at the UNL College of Architecture.
As an educator, Nelson recommends licensure architecture candidates learn about building codes and common mistakes for building types that they may encounter in the future.
“Seek out the code experts in your office and get to know them,” Nelson said. “Sit down for a cup of coffee and ask them about the lessons they’ve learned over the course of their career.”
As the architecture industry, such as the holistic process of Building Information Modeling (BIM), continues to integrate and change rapidly, Nelson aims to play an active role in monitoring regulatory and legislative changes.
“As BIM technologies evolve and become more accessible, the traditional roles and relationships between architects, engineers, and contractors are also shifting,” Nelson said. “Our responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public must be upheld.”
The same mission is why Nelson continues to serve the public through her role on the Board and her occupation.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity to give back to my profession, my peers, and the State of Nebraska,” Nelson said.