Nolan Rollins leaves Los Angeles Urban League

November 2, 2017

Nolan Rollins, the president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Urban League, has stepped down according to an email that was sent out by L.A. Urban League. Rollins was selected as the seventh president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League affiliate in 2012.

Rollins was an outsider when hired but quickly was coming into his own as an authentic leader in the community. When was hired in Los Angeles after serving five years as president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.

“Nolan Rollins is one of the bright young stars of the Urban League movement,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, after he was hired here. “His work in New Orleans after Katrina to rebuild the ULGNO, along with his work leading the Young Professionals as their national president uniquely qualifies him to lead the LAUL in this time of opportunity. I congratulate the chair and entire board on a great selection. And I pledge to work closely and enthusiastically with Nolan as he prepares to lead one of our most important affiliates into a new era.”

“Nolan Rollins is an outstanding Urban Leaguer with a great track record,” said John Mack, Los Angeles Police Commissioner, former Los Angeles Urban League president and National Urban League trustee. “I have had the privilege of working with Nolan as a colleague and he is a close friend. We are confident that he will be a superb leader for the Los Angeles Urban League, taking it to new heights.”

Make no mistake about it. Rollins being chosen to lead the L.A. Urban League five years ago was a big deal that the entire Urban League leadership touted. When Rollins departed, a two-sentence email was sent out.

“Please be advised that Nolan V. Rollins is no longer employed by the Los Angeles Urban League. For now, please address future correspondence to: Brian Williams, director of economic development, or Patrick Harris, consultant.”

I’m not sure where Rollins moved on too or even why? But the best the Urban League could do was send out a two-sentence email?

Rollins, to his credit, did a commendable job for five years and was on the front lines at important community protests from Trayvon Martin to police protests. I’m sad to see him go with no explanation by Urban League leadership who touted his arrival.

But to make things worse the L.A. Urban League office building has lost its building. It’s been sold to Pacific Palisades resident Andrew Latshule for $3 million. That’s unbelievable. How do you lose such an historic building in a prime location of redevelopment?

Opened in 1945 as a 50-room hotel, the building was eventually converted to office space for the Urban League. The building received a notice on Sept. 2, 2016, and eventually went into foreclosure.

In 2015, the building housed the Business Solution Center, an agency created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors to assist small businesses along the Crenshaw Corridor cope with construction of the light rail line.

Latshue is senior executive vice president and chief sales officer of family-owned Outdoor Products, specializing in the manufacture and sale of hiking, fishing and hunting supplies. I’m not sure what plans he has for the building but it’s a shame L.A. has lost Rollins and the Urban League building at the same time.

This might be the death of the L.A. Urban League as a viable organization. With no office and a handful of employees, it’s going to be hard for the next L.A. Urban League leader. Who would even want to jump on a sinking ship.

Our community must do a better job at supporting our organizations and leadership. The Urban League was part of the foundation of South L.A. People still talk fondly of the legendary John Mack who served as president of the Los Angeles Urban League from August 1969 until his retirement in 2005.

During his tenure, the Los Angeles Urban League became one of the most successful nonprofit community organizations in Los Angeles with an annual budget of $25 million. When Mack retired, the organization had been serving more than 100,000 individuals each year, and operated many innovative, result-oriented job training, job placement, education, academic tutorial, youth achievement and business development programs serving African-Americans and other people of color utilizing state of the art computer technology preparing League constituents for the 21st Century.

At the end of the day, Rollins, nor his L.A. Urban League predecessor Blair H. Taylor, could fill the shoes of Mack. They stood in their own shoes and did what they could in a declining economy with less charitable giving for nonprofits. With Rollins departing, this may unfortunately may well be the death of the Urban League in L.A.

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