Meet Nolan Marshall, III our Professional Spotlight of the month! Every month we will highlight a black professional in the Greater New Orleans area.  Marshall holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida A&M University and master’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. Prior to joining the DDD Nolan worked at Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives as the Director of Policy and Advocacy and previously served as the Associate Director of Common Good at Loyola University. Marshall has led two for profit companies: Good Citizen, a consulting firm specializing in political, outreach, and engagement campaigns, and NAM-IT, a promotional and printable products company. Nolan has been an active civic leader serving as the youngest president of the Young Leadership Council. He now resides as the Director of Public Affairs and Policy at the Downtown Development District. I sat down with Nolan to discuss the black professional landscape in New Orleans.

Age: 34
Name: Nolan Marshall, III
Occupation: Director of Public Affairs and Policy at the Downtown Development District
Hometown: New Orleans
High school: Isidore Newman
LinkedIn Profile: Nolan Marshall III

Biagas: Tell me about what you do?

I am the Director of Public Affairs and Policy at the Downtown Development District and essentially what I do is build relationships with stakeholders downtown and decision makers so that we can further policies that are beneficial to making downtown the kind of place that you want to live and work and play.

Biagas: So with your new job have you seen more AA professionals and/or business owners moving downtown.

I think one of the things that’s unique and great about New Orleans downtown, we really have embraced the idea of mixed income properties. A lot of the developments like Hibernia Towers and Gravier Place are mixed income. So they have a certain percentage that’s market rate, certain percentage that’s low-income and that really helps with not only the racial diversity, but the socioeconomic diversity. In my building there are people who work in hotels, people who are just starting their careers and people who own the building.

Biagas: Have you seen any initiatives that are pushing black businesses?
Where we are now. We’re sitting in a black business (Dee’s Coffee)  in the middle of downtown. In the high rises you see a lot of black owned businesses, whether it’s lawyers. It’s usually in the professional services class . You see lawyers, you see architects, accountants and financial services, which is typical of what you would see downtown. The interesting thing is you have two incubators, Beta, which is on Common and you have Launchpad. So you have a lot of younger entrepreneurs who are not necessarily black, but can be black and have been black that are working out of these incubators.
Biagas: You being in this position now and you having that position (YLC President) at 29 years old, what are some things you’d advise other professionals to do to evolve their career
 Paying it forward. Get involved in as much as you can possibly get involved in. Don’t worry about income, salary until you have responsibilities. When you have kids and family, then worry about those things, but until then acquire relationships, experiences and skills because those are more important.
Biagas: It’s very important you say acquire relationships. A lot of YP’s do not understand that concept of acquiring relationships.  I was actually a part of a conversation on Twitter and a YP discussed networking isn’t something they enjoy or like to do because they don’t see a return. That’s a loaded question and response
You have the wrong approach if you approach it from the standpoint of what’s my return on this relationship. But if you approach it from the standpoint of always asking how can I be of service or how can help someone else. Then the reward is in helping that other person and you must have trust and faith that it comes back to you.
Biagas: That’s deep
So I don’t go out necessarily collecting relationships. It’s “I’m going to volunteer for this” or “I’m going to be involved in this” or “I’m going to help this person”  because I have something to offer this situation or that person. And by doing that I’ve found that I grow professionally and personally from whatever the experiences and then if I help that person, then that person may or may not help me at some point.  It’s like casting a wide net. The more people you help then potentially the more people that will help you.
Biagas: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 – 10 years? Are you planner? Do you plan years down the line? Is that something professionals should do?
One thing I did was draw a map that looks like a life map. I  plan, but I also plan for different scenarios.
When I went to college, I wanted to be a writer. So I did the liberal arts thing.  I had never thought of going the HBCU. I went to FAMU.  After school, I came home and thought I’d work at my dad’s business. I started my business. 2005 comes. I lose everything. When the storm came it made me realize that it didn’t make sense to plan because you never know what could happen.
Life is unpredictable.
Preparation is better than planning. 
Biagas: Any words to leave for young professionals.
I’ve had to learn this lesson about 4 times now, but no matter how much I love a car, and how great of a deal I’ve gotten, I always hate a car note more than I love the car. Also don’t rush, be patient…
Nolan Marshall is a contributing writer on our site. After interviewing Mr. Marshall I thought a 30 Things I Wish I Knew Before 30  would be a treat! Sit back and take notes as Nolan teaches you a few things.
If you’d like to meet Nolan Marshall and discuss ways to improve Downtown area that’s beneficial to its stakeholders, feel free to contact us at and we’ll be happy to connect you.

For more information on Nolan Marshall III, visit