Nigel Morton was born into a community dedicated to building better worlds. His parents, Sam and Kathy, moved from Kansas to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1988 to help their friend, Drenda Tigner, launch Presbyterian Hospitality House. The nonprofit organization operates group homes and provides mental and behavioral health treatment for youth in Alaska.
The Mortons thought they would only stay for a year. They never left.
“They enjoyed the work they were doing with the kids, and they enjoyed the small community feel,” Nigel said.
Nigel decided he would put down roots in Alaska too, after traveling the country as a college baseball player. He said his long-time girlfriend and now-wife, Kaylee, along with family brought him back. He also wanted the same things his parents found and appreciated about living in Alaska.
“Everybody supports each other,” Nigel said. “You don’t get that everywhere.”
Job opportunities were available to him in Alaska as well. For a time, Nigel worked at Presbyterian Hospitality House just like his parents did, but when he bought his own home, he discovered a love for real estate. That led him to pursue a career in lending. Nigel started in the construction industry and quickly moved up, becoming deeply engaged in the work. He served on several professional boards including the Interior Builders Association, and the Alaska State Home Building Association.
He moved to commercial lending, which he said allowed him more time to serve in the community as a baseball coach at Lathrop High School, and on the board of the United Way of the Tanana Valley, where he also had a personal connection.
“My parents worked for a United Way member agency, and so it’s been in my heart, and I figured that was the best way to give back,” Nigel said. “It feels like the right thing to do.”
At just 33, Nigel succeeds in part because he’s a keen observer and student of the people who came before him; whether taking advantage of mentorship opportunities at work, stepping up as older co-workers moved on or following the lead and advice of his parents.
Because he interacts with customers who are seasoned and more experienced in life, he said people are often pleasantly surprised to see him in his role. In conversations with clients he turns to lessons of his father.
“My dad experienced harsh racism growing up in the Jim Crow South, and he passed along many life lessons, “Nigel said. “One key lesson was to let the way I carry myself prove to people that my age or what I look like does not matter. I am the right person to work with.”
Nigel continues to build on his parents’ legacy, and others who came before him, through his work, his experience and his commitment to the community.