Under Oath: Mary Katherine Nelson

September 16, 2021


Kentucky native Mary Katherine Nelson is a real estate and business transactions attorney in our Des Moines office. She’s brought Derby Day traditions to Central Iowa and discovered a love of Des Moines’ bike trails and community organizations. Read more about Mary Katherine in our latest Under Oath feature.


Q: What is your “elevator pitch” for the work that you do?


MKN: Our commercial mortgage finance practice group primarily represents lenders in documenting and closing loans on commercial properties across the country. We’re involved in every step of the transaction from due diligence through closing, as well as post-closing servicing requests and modifications.



Q: What is one thing about Nyemaster that everyone should know?


MKN: We have a deep bench in our practice areas. Nyemaster has extremely talented experienced attorneys and we also have a dynamic group of young partners and associates who are being recognized as leaders in their areas of expertise.



Q: You are very active in CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Iowa and presently sit on its board. Tell us a bit about this organization and the role it plays in the local real estate industry.


MKN: CREW is a business networking organization whose mission is to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. CREW brings together commercial real estate professionals, mostly women, for education, mentorship, leadership training, and networking opportunities. I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Board the last two years and chairing the Sponsorship Committee. My favorite part of CREW is the friendships and professional relationships with both my peers and senior-level executives in the industry that I’ve developed over the years. CREW is full of dynamic, professional women who have made me a better lawyer, community member, leader, and individual.


Q: Tell us one detail or story most people don’t know about you?


MKN: People who meet me learn this quickly - I’m a proud Kentuckian. I was born, raised and educated in Kentucky and most of my family is still there. Kentucky is full of rich traditions – horseracing and bourbon are two of my favorites! Derby Day is a holiday at our house. We host a Derby party each year to watch the race and share Kentucky food and drinks with our Iowa friends. Iowans really get a kick out of the big hats and betting.


Q: What issues are passions for you?


MKN: Education for children, helping people develop job training skills, and access to legal services.



Q: What are some of the things you love being involved with in your community?


MKN: There are so many fantastic non-profits doing great work in Des Moines and across Iowa. Des Moines is a very generous community. Some of my favorites include Goodwill, By Degrees Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Easterseals, and Children and Families of Iowa. I really enjoy working with and supporting organizations that focus on education for children and those that help individuals develop important life and job training skills. Both education and life skills are important to provide opportunities for our neighbors to be independent and support themselves and their families through employment.


Q: What do you like best about Iowa now that you’ve lived here for a few years?


MKN: Hands down it is the people. Iowans and Kentuckians are very similar – hospitable, kind, and down-to-earth. Des Moines is also a very welcoming community for young professionals. It’s very easy to get plugged in as a young professional with community boards and non-profits. I think the community benefits from the young energy and so do the young professionals.



Q: What do you do for fun?


MKN: Fun for me is a Saturday spent on the bike trails surrounding Des Moines with friends. My husband introduced me to the sport. It’s very social and I love being outside in the warmer months. A group of Nyemaster attorneys bike together every year for a summer outing – it’s always a highlight of the year!



Q: How do you unwind/relax?


MKN: Yoga! During the pandemic I picked up the hobby and am hooked. It’s such a great way to reset in the evening after a long day. I really enjoy yoga outside on the deck during the summer months.



Q: Tell us about something outside of work that brings you joy?


MKN: Plants bring me joy, which is something I share with my mom. I don’t have quite the green thumb she does but I enjoy working in the flower garden and caring for indoor plants, too. I added peonies, hibiscus, and hydrangeas to my garden this year and can’t wait to enjoy the colors next year! Art also brings me a lot of joy – I love really colorful pieces. A favorite work of art can bring so much warmth into a home or workspace.



Q: Where is your favorite vacation destination and why?


MKN: Coastal Italy is my favorite destination to date. Wine, pizza, pasta and the most amazing sunset views. We particularly enjoyed a mozzarella making class in Ravello with a 7th generation cheesemaker. We are traveling to east Africa for our next trip, making stops in Kenya and Tanzania for safaris. Africa may surpass Italy - I’ll report back!



Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since becoming a lawyer? 


MKN: No two transactions are the same. A streamlined, efficient process is important, but we have to stay ready for the unique wrinkles that are inevitable with each transaction.