Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Barbara Carlson Gage share ownership of Carlson Inc., a large travel and hospitality company that Marilyn formerly led. Her daughter, Diana Nelson, took over as chairman in 2013. Marilyn remains on the Carlson board as director and is co-CEO of Carlson Holdings.
The company operates over 1,340 hotels (Radisson, Country Inns & Suites), 930 T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants and holds a majority stake in Carlson Wagonlit. Her father, Curt (d. 1999), founded the company to sell Gold Bond trading stamps in the 1930s and later expanded it into dining and hospitality.
In 2014, Carlson was selected as one of the Oslo Business for Peace Award Honorees for her work abolishing human trafficking of children; she previously received the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons from the White House.