Dr Ellen Nelson: local hero who helped evacuate Afghan colleagues to NZ

From Saturday Morning, 8:39 am on 25 March 2023
Ellen Nelson

Ellen Nelson Photo: NZ Herald image by Michael Craig

NZ Army leader Dr Ellen Nelson worked night and day for almost a year to help evacuate 563 Afghan Defence Force allies and their families after the country fell to the Taliban in 2021. 

Nelson started her career in the NZ Army, with deployments including Afghanistan, Antarctica, the UK, Australia and the Pacific. She completed a PhD in 2019, focused on the leadership experiences and wellbeing of women in the workforce, and used these findings to help the army reduce the barriers women face.  

She continues to work in leadership training, with her post-doctoral research aimed at reducing stress for working parents. 

Ellen Nelson is a finalist for Local Hero of the Year at the 2023 New Zealander of the Year Awards. 

Afghan refugee children hold signs thanking Dr Ellen Nelson at a reunion and her team in Auckland July 2022

Afghan refugee children hold signs at a reunion with Dr Ellen Nelson and her team in Auckland July 2022 Photo: Ellen Nelson