Nelson Lim

Nelson Lim
Director, Workforce, Development, and Health Program, RAND Project AIR FORCE; Senior Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A. in economics, University of California, Los Angeles

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Nelson Lim is director of the Workforce, Development, and Health (WDH) program in RAND Project AIR FORCE and a senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation. In 2022, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III appointed Lim a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI).

As the director of WDH, he oversees a portfolio of projects to improve the Department of Air Force's human resource management (HRM) practices and advises senior leaders of the United States Air Force and Space Force on personnel policies. As a senior social scientist, he has led HRM projects for a diverse group of clients, including the Department of Defense, the United States Armed Forces, the United States Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Coast Guard, National Security Agency, the Department of Justice, the City of Los Angeles, and the City of San Diego.

For nearly two decades, Lim has dedicated his career to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in his clients' workforces. In 2009, Lim led the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC), a congressionally mandated commission to improve the diversity of top military leaders, as the research director. In addition to working with federal agencies and large corporations, Lim has worked with cities to assist police and fire departments with their recruiting. He assisted the Los Angeles Police Department and the San Diego Police Department in identifying potential barriers to improving the recruiting and diversity of their recruits.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Member, Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI)


  • Police-Community Relations

    Progress After Ferguson? Good Ideas Need Good Implementation

    President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing has done a great service by providing dozens of sound recommendations—good ideas that could help avoid another Ferguson. Now we need good implementation to go along with them.

    Mar 9, 2015

    The RAND Blog

  • Police-Community Relations

    Can Big Data Help Build Trust in the Police?

    After two controversial grand jury decisions not to indict police in the deaths of unarmed African Americans, a White House task force has 90 days to provide recommendations for promoting accountability among law enforcement agencies to cultivate trust between police and communities. The timeline may seem impossible, but, sadly, these issues are old and the solutions are well known.

    Dec 11, 2014


  • Workforce Diversity

    The Realities of Silicon Valley's Lack of Workforce Diversity

    Major Silicon Valley tech firms have released statistics indicating their workforces are largely made up of white men. Corporate America is on the receiving end of a complex chain of social and educational factors that continue to leave minorities behind in terms of college graduation, and both minorities and women behind in terms of STEM degrees.

    Oct 2, 2014

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • Emerging Technologies

    Crime Victims: Silicon Valley Tech Industry Can Get Them the Help They Need

    A broader approach is needed to better address the needs of millions of American victims of crimes like sexual assault, family violence, financial exploitation, gun violence, identity theft, burglary and stalking. And that's where Silicon Valley's tech community can step up.

    Aug 11, 2014

    The Mercury News

  • Law Enforcement

    The Decline of Racial Profiling

    President Obama called the arrest of Professor Henry Gates a "teachable moment." This is a moment to learn the facts of race and policing these days. Racial profiling has indeed been an ugly reality for many years. But our research finds little evidence that it continues to be a major problem, write Greg Ridgeway and Nelson Lim.

    Jul 30, 2009