Our History

Established by Craig H. Neilsen in 2002 as a private foundation, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is dedicated to supporting both programs and scientific research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury.  Mr. Neilsen was a prominent real estate developer who founded the casino gaming company, Ameristar Casinos, Inc.  He was an entrepreneur with incredible vision who took his company public and led it from its initial market capitalization of $27 million to $1.4 billion at the time of his death in 2006.  The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation has evolved into the largest private funder of spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation, clinical training and programmatic support in the United States and Canada.


Beth Hersh Goldsmith – Founding Executive Director

Beth Hersh GoldsmithIn 2003, Beth Goldsmith became the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s first Executive Director.  She worked with Craig to establish the Foundation’s initial peer-review boards for its scientific research and quality of life program grants.  Following his passing in 2006, Beth continued to work with the Co-Trustees and Board of Directors to carry on Craig’s vision for the Foundation.  

After a courageous, hard-fought battle with cancer, Beth passed away in 2015.  Beth was not only an influential colleague, but a friend and an incredible advocate for those without a voice.  Her memory will not soon be forgotten.