As Los Angeles Airport Commissioner Matthew Johnson leaves to join the city’s police commission, L.A. Urban League President Nolan Rollins is stepping up to fill in. Rollins talked to the Sentinel recently about the appointment and what he hopes to accomplish. To the position, he said, he fully intends to wear his Urban League hat and continue to advocate for economic advantages and opportunities for the city’s underserved.
“I am absolutely not on this commission to not be the Urban League president,” he said.
“I don’t take that hat off.”
Part of what that means is that being part of a board that decides how policies are written, is being part of making sure that a certain percentage of all business stays local.
“We need to do something to stabilize the economy in Los Angeles,” Rollins explained to the Sentinel.
“It’s the citizens’ money that circulates here. It’s the citizens who actually buy tickets to fly places. So, we have to figure out how best to invest their money back into the city and make Los Angeles strong.”
Rollins has been advocating for the disadvantaged for a long time now as part of the New Orleans Chapter of the Urban League and the Urban League Young Professionals in Baltimore.
He currently heads the UL Los Angeles, a position he officially took more than two years ago. So far, he has kept to his promise of helping to develop the work force here as well as initiating programs that foster community and economic growth. He and the LAUL have also focused on youth and education. But he is no stranger to aviation, having done a considerable stint as chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board.
“The airport commission is probably one of the most important economic engines in the city regardless of what city you’re in. And, it’s one that I actually had the pleasure of serving on in New Orleans,” Rollins recalled.
“I was the chairman of the commission in New Orleans, responsible for about $400 million in renovations for the super bowl, for hiring the new executive director coming in and for when the mayor came and said ‘I’m interested in building a new airport.”
“I think the mayor here in Los Angeles heard about my experience.
“I think what he is interested in doing is making Los Angeles Airport as much of a destination as Los Angeles because that’s the gateway to Los Angeles. It’s the first thing you see (when you arrive). So the question is, does the airport look like Hollywood or Leimert Park. I think the answer is no. So, how do we create the airport that an Angeleno would be proud of?”
L.A., he explained during an earlier interview with the Sentinel, is a keystone to not just the western part of the movement but to the entire Urban League.
“As goes the Los Angeles Urban League, so goes the rest of the movement,” he said.
And, the airport is the perfect economic engine for putting people back to work, said Rollins. With policies in place that would make jobs more attainable people won’t have to leave Los Angeles to find success. They won’t have to commit crime to get their basic needs met.