October Young Professional Spotlight

Meet Marlee Pittman

Occupation: Community Building and Engagement Manager

Organization: Mid City Redevelopment Alliance and Mid City Merchants

Tell us a little about your Baton Rouge Story. What brought you to Baton Rouge?

Born and raised in Mid City, Baton Rouge, I’m what some people call a boomerang. While at LSU, I travelled and lived abroad for a few semesters. After graduating, I moved to Washington D.C. to work on Middle East policy at the Truman Center for National Policy and I thought that was it. I wasn’t ever coming back; I was going to enjoy a policy career in D.C. for the rest of my life. 

The floods of 2016, and a heavy, unexpected dose of homesickness, changed all of that. I moved back to Baton Rouge to work in disaster recovery and ultimately landed at my neighborhood development organization, Mid City Redevelopment.  

Like most boomerangs that are fortunate enough to see all that other cities and countries have to offer before returning home, I have fallen in love with Baton Rouge. I have such an immense appreciation for all that we have to offer residents and visitors of our Capital City, and a real awareness of the work that we need to do to make Baton Rouge a truly great city. A city that isn’t divided, but united and moving forward. 

Tell us more about how you’re involved in Baton Rouge.

With everything happening in Mid City, Baton Rouge, I certainly stay busy! I manage our resident and neighborhood engagement projects, our service projects, volunteer recruitment and AmeriCorps program, Mid City’s Arts and Cultural District designation, our community events, and our organization’s marketing and branding. I’m lucky to have a great team at Mid City Redevelopment to help me with all of these projects.  

I also work with Mid City Merchants to help put on White Light Night and Hot Art Cool Nights and Mid City Gras to support those incredible group of residents as they organize a parade, ball, events and other community moments. 

What is your favorite thing about Baton Rouge?

I used to think that Baton Rouge struggled to find its own, unique, unified identity, but I’ve come to realize that this is our city’s strength. We are a melting pot of local Louisiana cultures, southern region attitudes, American individuality, and even international food and people.  

Want to live in an urban, walkable downtown over a bar and down the street from a museum? Downtown’s renaissance and expanding apartment options are for you. Want to live in eclectic, artsy neighborhoods with new food concepts and events happening every weekend? Try Mid City. Want historic, affordable neighborhoods with empowered residents working hard to lead their community? Try Scotlandville, Zion City or Eden Park. Want suburban neighborhoods with green open spaces? Proximity to hospitals, malls, or even upscale shopping districts? Well, we have that too. We don’t have one identity because we have too much to offer people of all stripes. 

What is your dream for Baton Rouge?

I want to see Baton Rouge really grapple with its past and take an introspective look at how some of the decisions made in the 20th Century impact development, housing, education, and economic outcomes today. I also want to see a Baton Rouge that attracts responsible investors, while also supporting the great local talent and entrepreneurs I get to meet and work with on a daily basis. I want us to stop being okay with subpar or short term or only slightly better than what we have, and instead ask ourselves how we can pull together to make something truly great. 

How are young professionals like yourself shaping Baton Rouge?

Throughout high school and college in Baton Rouge, everyone always talked about moving away. Leaving for greener pastures.  

What’s incredible is how many of those same people left and come back because they want to. I’m also really encouraged by the amount of talented and passionate people we attract from more rural parts of our state. We are lucky to be a hub of great job opportunities for these young professionals, mainly because these millennials are showing up for our city. They volunteer, do board service, lead organizations, plan events, open businesses, create art, and so much more. 

What would you say to someone considering a move to Baton Rouge?

Come, and be a part of our growing, quirky, always welcoming family. 

What is your Baton Rouge favorite?

  • Place to people watch: Capital Heights Pocket Park 
  • Place to network: I believe in meeting people where they are. Show up to neighborhood meetings, swing by someone’s event to introduce yourself, make a call to their office and see how you can help. 
  • Way to give back: FIXUP Mid City 
  • Event: White Light Night 

With significant job growth, a bustling arts scene, delectable cuisine, abundant outdoor activities and more, the Capital Region attracts talent of all ages, including young professionals. Whether straight out of college or looking to establish their own business, more and more young professionals are choosing to lay their roots in Baton Rouge.

Each month, BRAC highlights one of these young Baton Rouge Area movers and shakers in the Young Professional Spotlight.

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