Theresa Nelson is a world traveler, who continues to gain a fresh perspective on life with each corner of the world she visits.
“Getting outside the bubble you normally live in broadens your mindset of the world…It shows you that there is much more out there, to learn from and experience, and once you experience other cultures and see how other people live, you can’t forget it,” Theresa says.
Exploring beaches, deserts, rain forests and volcanoes are all exciting to her. She’ll go anywhere and everywhere, and doesn’t think twice about hopping on a plane.
Growing up in the Midwest, Theresa’s parents introduced her and her two older sisters to the idea of international travel and the value of turning a trip into an experience. Today, everyone in the family is well-traveled and shares countless memories about what they’ve seen and done.
“When I was young, we would take trips. Instead of having big Christmases, my parents would say, ‘Let’s go somewhere, do something and have an experience versus having a bunch of presents under the tree.’ My parents were good about instilling a love for exploration and gave us an opportunity to see different places,” she says.
Theresa was 11 or 12 when her family took one of their first trips to Zihuatanejo, where they filmed the famous beach scene in Shawshank Redemption. That was the first time she traveled outside of the United States, and immediately, she was hooked.
Some of Theresa’s favorite excursions include a summer abroad in Spain during college, backpacking through Europe after passing the bar exam, and a memorable trip to Peru with her now-husband while they were dating.
“My husband and I spent four days hiking the Inca Trail in Peru before we were married. We hiked from this little place outside of Cusco, Peru to Machu Picchu carrying way too much stuff, sleeping in tents and no showers for four days,” she says.
The couple’s honeymoon took Theresa and her husband, John, to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. He wanted to see the Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Theresa’s wish list included Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Vietnam, so they built their trip around the Festival and visited all three countries. That trip was a huge celebration on multiple levels, but it also showed her how much we all have in common.
“After watching these amazing parades of brightly lit floats and crowds of people performing for hours, at night, everyone gathers together next to the river to release floats made from flowers, and on the bridges to release paper lanterns into the night sky. There were tons of people everywhere, just huge crowds. But, there was such an enlightened, happy and joyous energy. Every single person was just smiling ear to ear. It was pure joy and happiness. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life,” she says, “It was the biggest party I’ve ever been to, and everyone was there to have a good time, make a wish or give a blessing and have fun.”
Theresa has been able to instill that passion into her work. “Traveling can bring out many of the skills and qualities that are invaluable at work – such as hard work, persistence, having an open mind, and being a good listener.”
She joins Graydon’s Employment Team with a thirst for learning and knowledge, mixed with decades of experience and a never-ending enthusiasm to assist clients in achieving their goals.
“The one thing that I try to do is give people answers…People need an answer. It’s part of my personality, and my thought process, to be direct so if I can give you an answer, I will.
The relationship with my clients is truly a partnership where we work through issues together.”
Theresa serves as Chair of the Firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group. Her practice focuses on representing clients in complex labor & employment, commercial, and general civil litigation. She has represented clients throughout the country in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels. Theresa’s high level of trial experience comes from conducting numerous jury and bench trials as the lead attorney responsible for all facets of the trial.
She represents and defends clients in a wide range of employment-related disputes including wrongful discharge, breach of contract including non-competition agreements, wage and hour, harassment, discrimination, disability accommodation, FMLA, negligent hiring and retention, trade secrets, misappropriation of intellectual property rights, unfair competition, and retaliatory discharge.
In addition to her time spent in a courtroom, Theresa often represents business owners, employees and individuals in a broad range of matters through arbitration, mediation and before administrative agencies. Her litigation experience does not end with the trial court as she often represents clients in post-trial or administrative appeals, taking the lead on drafting briefs and presenting oral arguments.
Theresa uses her trial experience to provide her clients with pragmatic counsel and guidance to mitigate risk, avoid litigation and help her clients effectively manage their businesses. She counsels her clients on preventative labor and employment practices, drafts appropriate documentation, contracts, policies and procedures, and assists her clients with implementing appropriate policies and procedures.