Deanna Nelson, Ph.D.

Director of Grants and Federal Affairs
  (202) 296-2741 x 2014

Deanna Nelson provides strategic advice and client-focused support to higher education institutions seeking federal support for research programs, projects, retention efforts, scholarships, and other vital priorities. As Director of Grants and Federal Affairs, Deanna works collaboratively with higher education clients to identify funding opportunities, develop competitive concepts that match the institution’s goals and manage the entire grant submission process.

Prior to joining McAllister & Quinn, Deanna spent eight years as a vice president for advancement, senior director of development and director of corporate and foundation relations at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. She helped raise more than $50 million in these roles, primarily to support low-income, first-generation college students. In addition, Deanna helped establish, develop and grow a thriving grant-seeking culture on campus, including developing faculty and administration’s understanding of and comfort with pre-and post-award grant processes, resources and management.


  • Vice President for Advancement, Avila University
  • Senior Director of Development – Major Gifts, Avila University
  • Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations, Avila University


  • Higher Education
  • Federal Grants
  • Grant Strategy and Management


B.A., University of Memphis

M.P.A., University of Missouri – Kansas City