Nancy E. Underwood was born in Dallas, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude from Emory University in 1974, and earned her Juris Doctor in 1977 from Emory University School of Law. At Emory Law School, she won the Giles Southerland Rich National Moot Court Competition, which brought the school its first National Moot Court victory.
Following graduation from law school, Underwood was a litigation attorney with Hurt, Richardson, Garner, Todd and Cadenhead in Atlanta, Georgia, and was only the second woman to be hired by an Atlanta law firm. In her first three months with the firm, she was second chair for a trial which ended with the largest award ever given in Atlanta’s history at that time. Underwood holds the distinction of being the first woman to try a civil case in Fulton County (Atlanta). During her years as a litigator, she never lost a jury trial, and she won more motion hearings than any other litigator at the firm.
From 1981-1986, Underwood served as general counsel of Riverhill Development Corporation. In 1986, she became owner and CEO of Underwood Financial, Ltd., a commercial real estate investment company with divisions in land, retail, and investments. Asset values in those divisions have increased by 690% under her ownership.
Underwood has received many awards and honors. In 2002, she was nominated for the 73rd Annual Linz Award. In 2001, she received the Savvy Award, was first runner-up for the NFL Community Quarterback Award, and received the Salvation Army Texas Volunteer of the Year Award. In 1999, Underwood was awarded the Salvation Army’s Guardian Angel Award and in
1990, the Salvation Army Southern Territory Distinguished Service Award.
Underwood has been very active serving on the board of directors for Comstock Resources since 2004, for the European Initiative Ministry since January 2013, for the Texas Health Resources Foundation since 2002, and the National Advisory Board of The Salvation Army in 2004 – 2005, and has held various leadership positions on the Dallas County Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, to name a few. Underwood is a member of the Georgia Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association, the Texas Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.
In 1971, the Underwood Law Library at SMU was named in honor of her parents, George M. and Nancy Chambers Underwood. Underwood is a member of the SMU Cox Women’s Initiative and the SMU Dedman School of Law Campaign Steering Committee and Executive Board.