lisa nelsonLisa Nelson, a veteran public affairs exec with posts at Visa, AOL Time Warner and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has been named CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial yet influential conservative advocacy group.

Nelson has been running Ulysses Consulting, a coalition-building and marketing advisory shop for associations and non-profits. She previously led government relations in the Americas for Visa and was SVP for external relations at AOL Time Warner.

Alexandria, Va.-based ALEC is fueled by conservative federal and state legislators and gets private sector funding from companies like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries to influence policy and introduce legislation.

The group reportedly faced a funding shortfall in late 2013 after its full-throated support of so-called "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.

Nelson takes up the post on July 30.

In a statement, Gingrich said Nelson, as PA liaison, played a key role in developing the Contract with America, calling her a "great leader with a deep public policy interest and a real understanding of innovation."