Nelia Olivencia holds a Ph.D. from Washington University (St. Louis), an M.A. and Certificate in Latin American Studies from Washington University (St. Louis) and a B.A. from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She has taught courses at four different universities across the country. Dr. Olivencia has also held many administrative positions within both Wisconsin State Government and UW-Madison, including but not limited to the Special Assistant on Hispanic Affairs, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations, and the Acting Section Chief in Planning and Program Development in what is now known as Medicaid. At the community level, she served as president of Alianza Civico Cultural for four years in Madison, WI, as a founding member of the Wisconsin Women’s Network, as a member of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Governor’s Judiciary Commission, as a founding member and current president of the Wisconsin Women of Color Network, and as a committee member of the Dane County of United Way. Moreover, she was a member of the Puerto Rican Relief Fund Committee in Madison, WI. Finally, she served on the Executive Board of the national Puerto Rican Studies Association and as the President of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies.
During her tenure for approximately twenty years at UW-Whitewater, she received many awards such as the UW – Whitewater nominee for the 2009 University of Wisconsin System (UWS) Regents Diversity Award, the UWS Woman of Color Award (twice), and the UW-Whitewater Outstanding Non-Instructional Award (twice). During this same period, she also served as founder, chair or member of many UW-Whitewater committees such as Latino Heritage Month (founder and chair), Latino Forum (founder and chair), Cesar Chavez Celebration Event (chair), Martin Luther King Jr. Committee (chair), Multicultural Programming Committee (chair), Affirmative Action Committee (member), Police and Parking Committee (member), and McNair Scholars Program Advisory Committee (member). Moreover, Nelia Olivencia held the title of faculty advisor for Latinos Unidos (the only Latino student organization on campus) and the Latino cultural performance group Admira la Cultura de las Américas (ALMA) Dances for over 19 years. In addition she developed, implemented, and taught 14 Study Abroad Studies courses (México, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Perú, Jamaica, Spain, Italy and Sicily, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, France, and Egypt) and developed, implemented, and served as the Coordinator for the Student Exchange Program between UW-Whitewater and 26 campuses of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) -- approximately 60 exchanges.