S. Gifford Nielsen was born in Provo, Utah, on October 25, 1954. He married Wendy Olson in April 1975. They are the parents of six children.
He received a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Brigham Young University and was named one of the top five scholar athletes by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
He has served in numerous Church callings, including elders quorum president, Young Men president, bishop, stake president, and Area Seventy.
At the time of his call, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen had been serving as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Southwest Area. Elder Nielsen has served as an Assistant Executive Director in the Missionary Department and in the Pacific, North America Northeast, and North America Central Area Presidencies. He is currently serving as the President of the North America Central Area.
After becoming an All-American quarterback at BYU, the Houston Oilers selected him in the third round of the 1978 NFL draft. Following a six-year career as quarterback for the Oilers, he worked as the sports director and anchor for KHOU-TV in Houston for 25 years. In 1994 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.