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McCain Nelson, Colleen

McCain Nelson
Year Inducted: 
  • Vice President/ Editorial Page Editor, Kansas City Star
  • Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing
  • Chronicled three presidential campaigns
  • 2016: crossed the country with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
  • White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, President Obama administration

Colleen McCain Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former political reporter who has chronicled three presidential campaigns, is a strong voice and leader in the field of Journalism and Mass Communications. Her accomplishments as a journalist have set an example for many entering the field who aspire to follow in her footsteps.

                Nelson began her career at the University of Kansas where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and was the editor of The University Daily Kansan. She took great pride in her KU education and experience.  Following graduation when she entered the professional world, it was said that to find her office, all you had to do was look for the Jayhawks!  After graduation, she reported for the Wichita Eagle, where she wrote about the Kansas Legislature and the governor’s re-election campaign.   She rose through the ranks as she continued to take on issues of importance in her reporting.  In 2010, her series of editorials that condemned the economic and social disparity separating Dallas’ thriving northern half and struggling southern half earned her a Pulitzer Prize. The same year, she was selected as a Distinguished Kansan of 2010 by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

                Her reputation for being a reporter with “depth, judgement and an internal barometer” led to the Gerald Seib, Editor and Chief Commander of the Wall Street Journal (and fellow Jayhawk), to contact her and ask her to take on a position with the Washington Bureau.  He needed what he described as a “real pro.”  After covering the Romney campaign, she became the Journal’s White House reporter. One of her nominators said, “While at The Wall Street Journal, Colleen had one of the most coveted jobs in journalism. She documented history while covering President Barack Obama for the largest newspaper in the country. Her travels took her around the globe and gave her a front row seat during a consequential administration.”   This included traveling the country with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the recent 2016 election. 

                Nelson has recently returned to her home state of Kansas to join the Kansas City Star as vice president and editorial page editor. She shapes the newspaper’s voice and editorial agenda while advocating for neighborhood improvements.  She is a role model and inspiration for other women and journalists. As one of her nominators said, “Colleen has recognized the importance of serving as a mentor to aspiring female journalists.  She has created a lasting bond with several young women, and these up-and-coming journalists continue to reach out to Colleen for advice.”

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