Shaun C. Nelms

Shaun C. Nelms

Power 100 list

Shaun C. Nelms

Director, Center For Urban Education Success & Superintendent of East, University of Rochester

shaun-nelms-2017-104Years in current role: 6

What’s been your biggest success?

Personally, raising three incredible children. Nia (23), Alexia (17), and Shaun Jr. (13) give me hope in what the world can be. Professionally, working with the University of Rochester to address inequities in education. Together, we have worked with administrators, children, the community, parents, teachers, and staff to improve graduation rates at East from 29% to 78% in five years. All children in our community deserve the right to quality education, regardless of ZIP code.

Who have been the biggest mentors in your career?

Dr. Stephen Uebbing, associate professor, University of Rochester.

What are your hopes for the Rochester community this year?

My hope for Rochester is to strengthen the intersection between and among the city, suburban, and rural areas. Until we engage as one county, systemic disparities will continue to exist economically and racially in education, health care, housing, and the workplace. We seem to find joy when we come together for events but seem equally comfortable retreating to ignorance about those we just met. A progressive and viable Rochester is a united Monroe County. Until we see ourselves as neighbors, we jeopardize our ability to create a better tomorrow for our youth and ourselves.

What do you do to unplug in your free time?

I love to play in the “lab.” Cooking has brought me calm amidst the storm during COVID. I find myself reading cookbooks and searching my favorite websites before preparing a meal. I may look at 10 recipes before attempting a new dish or refining one I’ve made in the past. Cooking has also allowed me to connect with family and friends virtually as my daughter and I post some of our meals.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at