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Helen Nelson devoted most of her adult life to consumer advocacy and education. With a focus on the American consumer, she promoted fairness and truth. Often in the public spotlight, she held press conferences, testified before state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, addressed countless audiences and worked with numerous national and international leaders. Helen began her consumer work by becoming Consumer Counsel to California Governor Edmund Brown. In this position – the first of its kind in the country – she drafted and recommended consumer legislation. She had to work against special interest lobbyists, especially those representing industries who did not want to label the contents in their products (such as the food and cosmetics industries), who did not want to provide the actual cost of credit (“truth in lending”) and who did not want to otherwise inform the spending public.
In addition to her work in Sacramento, Helen served on the Consumer Advisory Council to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Later, she was the Public Governor of the American Stock Exchange from 1972 – 1978, as well as Consumer Consultant to the U.S. Congress. For fifteen years she served on the Board of the Consumers Union. Under President Jimmy Carter, she was appointed a member of the President’s Export Council, as well as Consumer Advisor to the Federal Reserve Board. In 1979, she founded the Consumer Research Foundation, which makes policy recommendations on consumer matters throughout the world. In 1996, she was featured as the commentator on a video of the history of the American consumer movement entitled “Change Makers: The Struggle for Consumer Rights.”