Nancy Bushnell was born in Bogota, Colombia. Her family lived in La Paz, Bolivia and Lima, Peru before moving to the United States in 1960. Nancy received her bachelor's degree with a double major in Spanish and Humanities from Pitzer College in Claremont, California and a California Teaching Credential from the University of Southern California. She earned a Master's Degree in International Management at The American Graduate School of Management in Glendale, Arizona. After completing her education, Nancy worked for Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles as a Latin American specialist in their International Banking Division. In 1976, Nancy married David P. Bushnell, founder of Bushnell Optical Corporation known for their sports optics and moved to Laguna that year. Nancy had been a member of the Board of Directors of Pitzer College for 20 years, serving as Co-Chair for Policies and Procedures. She also served on the boards of Human Options a battered women's shelter in Orange County, for 8 years, Sally's Fund a nonprofit transportation organization for Seniors of Laguna Beach for 4 years, and The Laguna Art Museum for 6 years, and serves on the Board of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna. The Bushnells have also been supporters of the Laguna Playhouse, The Friendship Shelter, and two Micro Credit NGOs: Opportunity International and FINCA.