The ProjectAttain! team cannot say enough about the decade of work, time, leadership,
and heart that Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen has lent to just about everything
he touches. He is a man who believes deeply and genuinely in the power of education and
all the benefits it offers students of any type at any age and from every
background and circumstance. As he and Jody, his partner in life and profession,
prepare to move on from Sacramento in retirement, we want to reflect on and recognize
the immense contribution that President Nelsen bestowed on our organization.

Quite honestly, ProjectAttain! would not be the organization it is without him.

In his time at Sacramento State, Robert Nelsen invested his unwavering support, time,
resources, perseverance, vision, and – above all – his confidence in us. A comebacker
himself, he understood that our mission to help individuals complete their education was
not only possible, but entirely worth the efforts, as complex as they may be.

ProjectAttain! transitioned from an equity initiative to an independent social impact
nonprofit in 2021 through the time and support that Sacramento State provided under
Nelsen’s leadership. That evolution represents true collective action and proves that
moving an idea to a reality is possible.

Today, ProjectAttain! operates as with a clear mission to drive systems change, provide
direct service to comebackers, serve as the educational backbone of the region, and to
deliver on a slate of adult-learner focused projects and initiatives. Tremendous thanks to
many is warranted, including a dedicated board, committed partners, and some very
passionate believers, chief among them—Robert Nelsen.

Dr. Nelsen, we hope you know how much we appreciate you. We will miss you very
much and wish you and Jody all the best.


A Tribute to Robert Nelsen’s Legacy

ProjectAttain! has been both a first-hand witness and benefactor of Sac State President
Robert Nelsen’s bold vision, generous support, and long list of contributions.

Like so many effective and dynamic leaders, standing in the spotlight and taking credit have
had little to do with Robert’s motives. That’s why we would like to share just a little of the
behind-the-scenes work that Dr. Nelson has taken on over his years at Sacramento
State and put a spotlight the monumental legacy that his work will carry on far into the
future – certainly for our organization, but also for education on whole and all those who
wish to pursue higher education.

Under his leadership:

  • Supported university involvement as part of Sacramento State’s role as an
    anchor institution
  • Supported grants and proposals to ensure financial support for the equity
    initiatives within ProjectAttain!
  • Supported development and launch of HornetAttain!, the first campus-based and
    campus-wide returning/adult learner program in the region and the first
    independent working prototype of the ProjectAttain! model.
  • Incubated HornetAttain! and a team of university-wide experts focused on
    supporting adult learners returning to Sac State to complete their degree.
    HornetAttain! achievement advisors guide comebackers through the Sac State
    system from enrollment to graduation, giving them a single point of contact with
    access to the full administrative and support services of the university and
    surrounding region.
  • Served as the Board president for Align Capital Region, where the idea of a
    regional initiative on educational attainment for working-age adults began and
    has been in board service to ProjectAttain! ever since.
  • Supported the Hornet Debt Reset program providing $1 million in institutional
    debt relief to returning Sac State students.
  • Participated in California Reconnect pilot project offering one-on-one success
    coaching for returning learners.
  • Ensured leadership and support for the California Cohort of Degrees When Due,
    a statewide community of practice focused degree reclamation and adult re-
  • Hosted the Latino Adult Student Success Academy (formerly known as HSI Adult
    Learner 360 Academy), part of an ongoing initiative of the Council for Adult and
    Experiential Learning (CAEL) and Excelencia in Education to create pathways and improve
    higher education outcomes for Hispanic and Latino adult students.
  • Promoted adult attainment through campus communications and as a regular
    talking point in his Fall and Spring campus convocations.