Our Team

Donna Farrugia

Chief Executive Officer

Donna FaruggiaDonna Farrugia joined Nelson as the Chief Executive Officer in August, 2013. As CEO of one of the largest independent staffing companies in the United States, Farrugia focuses her efforts on keeping the company at the forefront of an ever-expanding market. With more than 30 years of marketing, business development and management experience, she was most recently one of a few executive directors at a Fortune 500 staffing and recruiting Firm. In that capacity, Farrugia successfully managed strategy and operations for their creative division, specializing in interactive, creative and marketing solutions. She spent the prior ten years with the same firm as Senior Vice President, building an award-winning field team for both consulting and professional staffing services. Prior to her time as a staffing and recruiting executive, Farrugia spent 16 years in the imaging and information industry. Three of those were as Global Manager of Service Business Development for 3M/Imation Corp—the multi-billion dollar diversified, high-tech spin-off of 3M Corp—where she concentrated on creating a new, competitive service and support infrastructure for the company. Before that, 13 years were spent with Eastman Kodak, where Farrugia ascended to the role of Western Zone Director for Kodak’s outsourcing services. A sought-after presenter for industry events such as the HOW Design Conference, the American Advertising Federation National Conference and the American Marketing Association’s International Collegiate Conference, Farrugia has also delivered webinars for the American Advertising Federation and Graphic Artists Guild, and has contributed articles on career-related topics to various publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, with a minor emphasis in systems analysis, operations research, accounting and psychology.


Deb Mings

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Finance & Administration

Deborah Mings As the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration for Nelson, Deborah Mings offers hands-on and solutions-oriented financial, risk management and HR expertise. With over 25 years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry and proficiency in managing all aspects of accounting, finance, banking, insurance, benefits and related programs, Deborah has been extremely successful in structuring and leading Nelson’s operations over the years. Deborah first joined Nelson in 1993 when she served as CFO for eight years and then she returned to Nelson in 2013 in her current capacity. Prior to her roles with Nelson, Deborah served as CFO at Eplica, the parent company of The Eastridge Group, a privately owned staffing company headquartered in Southern California. She also previously held CFO positions at Axlon and Boole & Babbage. Deborah is a frequent guest speaker on panels that address captive insurance, risk management and workers’ compensation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting and a minor in economics from San Jose State University.


Eric Edelstein

Chief Information Officer & President of Nelson Solutions

Eric EdelsteinEric Edelstein holds a Ph.D. in mathematics with a doctoral minor in quantum physics. Early in his career, Edelstein worked in the field of math, but software development captured his imagination and he turned his attention there. Eric draws on a distinguished application development track record with industry leaders including Bachmann, Fidelity Investments, Aetna Insurance and Varian Semiconductor, where he served as a principal architect in designing the first real-time remote DCOM control system. Upon moving to the Silicon Valley in Northern California, Edelstein shifted his focus to the HR industry. Since that time, he has served as principal architect of HRhome and has developed customized timekeeping systems, job boards and integrated VMS systems. Eric is also the founder and president of YiddishLives.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving life stories in Yiddish.


Tony Bartenetti

Chief Operating Officer & President of Nelson Staffing

Tony BartenettiTony Bartenetti joined Nelson in May of 1998 as South Bay Regional Sales Manager. After just six months, he was promoted to Regional Vice President of three Nelson Staffing branches, and he was appointed Vice President of the Southern Region in 2002. In 2006, Tony was promoted to Senior Vice President of the Nelson Staffing division. During his tenure, Tony has been recognized with two Gary D. Nelson Leadership Awards for his outstanding strength in leadership and management. Prior to joining Nelson, Tony spent 13 years in the home health care industry with the companies that make up Apria Healthcare. At the time he left Apria to join Nelson, Tony was Regional Sales Manager for a $68 million territory and managed 18 sales representatives in a four-state region. He received their National Leadership Award in 1996. Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from University of San Francisco.


Jeff Phelps

President of  Nelson Compliance

Jeff PhelpsJeff’s career spans over 30 years of successfully building and leading innovative telecommunications and human capital management organizations. As the Chief Operating Officer of Nelson Compliance, Phelps is responsible for business development, operations, client services, compliance, product, risk management and corporate support services. He is also a member of the executive team responsible for the design of the strategic direction and market development for the global human capital management enterprise. A recognized industry expert in contingent workforce management, Jeff has led organizations responsible for the design, development, implementation and management of comprehensive workforce management programs. His client experience spans virtually every market segment and includes Fortune 500 companies as well as regional firms. Prior to Nelson Compliance, Jeff held various executive level positions in general management, human resources, compliance, management, business development and client services with AT&T, WorkforceLogic, ABE Services and Secure Talent. An expert in independent contractor compliance as well as risk and workforce management, Jeff is a sought-after presenter at many industry events throughout the year. Littler Mendelson, Nixon Peabody, VMS Accelerators, and Staffing Industry Analysts are just a few of the organizations who regularly ask him to speak at their events. He has also been featured on CNN Finance and quoted in many newspapers.


Lisa Marie Johnson, PHR

Director of Human Resources

Lisa Marie Johnson Lisa Marie Johnson joined Nelson in 2013 as the Vice President of Client Relations for Nelson Compliance. In 2014, she became the Director of Human Resources, supporting the corporate team and the company’s many business units. An innovative HR and client services executive, Lisa brings over 17 years of experience managing in-house, vendor on premise, vendor management systems and contingent workforce management programs, as well as remote and outsourced HR and customer service teams. Passionate about her work, Lisa has a reputation for supporting companies in implementing and maintaining a thriving and compliant workforce structure. Prior to joining Nelson, Lisa was executive of client services for ADP Total Source where her successful division regularly ranked as one of the highest nationally in their region for employee and client retention and satisfaction. Before ADP, Lisa was the Director of Client Services for WorkforceLogic, and prior to that, was an HR Program Manager at Cisco Systems. Prior to joining Cisco, she served as Research/Employment Grant Manager at The University of California Santa Cruz. A certified Professional Human Resources specialist, Lisa is a member of the Northern California Human Resources Association and the Society of Human Resources Management and holds a Professional Human Resources (PHR) certification.


Courtney Dickson

Senior Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Alliances

Courtney DicksonCourtney Dickson joined Nelson in 2007, bringing experience in marketing, internal and external business development, and operations across a variety of industries. In her role as Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Alliances, Courtney develops a wide range of marketing and public relations activities for the company’s business divisions, creating internal and external communications and campaigns. She also reviews strategic partnerships and manages the organization’s corporate recruiting strategy and vendor relationships. An active member of the community, Courtney serves as a board member for multiple organizations focused on developing jobs and economic growth in the Bay Area and the North Bay. Prior to joining Nelson, Courtney handled business development and marketing for Gilardi & Co. LLC, was an Associate Producer at Groove Eleven, and served as Marketing & Operations Manager for Wattage Monitor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from the University of California, Berkeley.


Craig Nelson

Chairman of the Board

Craig Nelson

Craig Nelson was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2014 after a long history of management roles within Nelson. Having most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer for Nelson, prior to that, Craig ran Nelson Technology, Nelson & Associates, Nelson Staffing, and Nelsonjobs.com. Craig was also previously the General Counsel at Nelson with responsibility for legal, administration, safety & risk, and human resources.

Prior to joining Nelson, Craig spent seven years with the Criminal Division of the California Department of Justice. He also spent three years as a litigator with the Law Offices of Bowles and Verna. Expert in the fields of both staffing and employment law, Craig has been quoted by a wide variety of news organizations including National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Staffing Industry Review and The Recorder on a wide variety of topics such as employment trends, recruiting, family businesses, the San Francisco Medical Leave law and California’s Three Strikes law.

Highly involved in the community, Craig is on the board of the Marin Economic Forum, the Leadership Council of the Boys & Girls Club of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties and the executive board of the North Bay Leadership Council. He was the Chair of the Executive Leadership Committee of the 2011 North Bay Heart Walk, and he is the past Chairman of the Marin County Workforce Investment Board. Craig is also the author of God Left Manor Farm and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Staffing Industry by Staffing Industry Review in 2012.

Craig has a Masters of Law degree from the University of San Diego, his Juris Doctor from Hastings College of Law, and degrees in Business Administration and Economics from California State University, Chico. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1990.


Gary D. Nelson


Gary NelsonGary Nelson is a forward thinker whose passion, creativity, and determination make him a visionary in business. A graduate of San Jose State University with advanced work in industrial relations, Gary had ten years of experience in human resources before founding Nelson in 1970. He continually explores new ways to provide value to clients and to maintain his company’s standing as a clear leader in the workforce management and human capital industry. He believes in a personal-touch approach with both clients and job candidates and instills this practice in his businesses. His wealth of industry experience has earned him recognition as an expert. He is regularly asked to speak at human resource-related events and conferences and has shared the stage with many industry leaders and dignitaries, including Dr. Henry Kissinger, Lloyd Bentsen and Scott Cook of Intuit. In 2011, he was listed in SIReview’s Who’s Who: The Staffing 100 as an influential leader in the field of staffing. In his local community, Gary is recognized as an outspoken advocate for healthcare and education. As a community activist and philanthropist, he has spearheaded efforts to open and support public charter schools. He was a leader in developing Sonoma’s “Field of Dreams” project to create a major youth baseball and soccer complex. Additionally, Gary and his wife, Marcia, established the Gary and Marcia Nelson Emergency Care Fund in support of emergency room services in Sonoma Valley.