J Nathan Bland: Tulane’s Diplomat in Residence

Hannah Mayer, Staff Reporter

j nathan bland
J Nathan Bland is Tulane’s third Diplomat in Residence. (Rahima Olatinwo)

J Nathan Bland — known as Nathan — is the third Diplomat in Residence at Tulane University. As Diplomat in Residence, Bland is responsible for recruiting students for possible careers in the State Department. In addition to this, Bland also participates in information sessions, career panels and career fairs where he represents the State Department. 

According to Bland, there are 16 Diplomats in Residence at Universities across the country who each represent specific regions. Bland is the representative for the Central South Region, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. 

Bland was born in Germany, with both parents working for the U.S. military. Being a “military brat,” he travelled around a lot as a child, though his family was from Lafayette, Louisiana, and he spent most of his younger years in Leesville, Louisiana by the Fort Polk military base. Bland attended Louisiana College where he studied business prior to attending Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. 

Bland was involved in student government, being a vice president in high school and president in college. Through his involvement in student government, Bland believed he was destined for a career in politics. It was not until he studied abroad in London during his junior year of college that he realized he wanted to travel for his career. During his last semester abroad in Hong Kong in 2002, Bland learned about the foreign service, which he joined in 2006.

As a diplomat, Bland has represented the United States in China, Rome, Washington D.C., Belize and Mexico City. As a Catholic, Bland found it especially meaningful to serve in the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Italy for two years, working in public affairs with the Vatican’s media. During this time, Bland had the opportunity to meet Pope Benedict XVI, which he regarded as “a full circle experience” due to his Grandma having a tapestry of Pope John II behind her bed in Lafayette. 

Bland also has high regards for his time working in the Washington D.C. headquarters under the Ocean and Marine Environmental Protection Industries. Bland believes climate change is a serious issue that should be addressed, as it affects the livelihood of all people. 

In response to Tulane’s actions on climate change, Bland said, “I’m glad that Tulane is taking these steps. Hopefully it may be an influencer in the region and other schools who see this might try to copy and emulate what Tulane is doing, which would be amazing.”

Amjad Ayoubi, senior associate dean of Newcomb-Tulane College, created the Experts in Residence program to give students direct contact with professionals in specific fields. The experts in residence include diplomats, leaders and chief executive officers. Ayoubi says that he is grateful for Bland’s energy and willingness to advise and assist students who are interested in the field of international diplomacy.

j nathan bland
J Nathan Bland is Tulane’s third Diplomat in Residence. (Rahima Olatinwo)

“He is tireless in his efforts in meeting with students to discuss their interests in career, internship, and post grad fellowships within the State Department,” Ayoubi said. “Because many Tulane students are interested in public service and concern and interest in working abroad, the opportunities with the State Department are a perfect fit for their hopes and dreams … Nathan makes it easier for students and makes the entire student experience at Tulane richer and unique to all of our students.”

Outside of traveling for his work in international diplomacy, Bland enjoys listening to music, singing, basketball, video games and comedy. While in Belize, he joined a local choir, which contributed to the sense of full immersion. 

Bland also enjoys bringing American culture to the countries he lives in, especially the music of his favorite singer Prince. Bland loves music so much that he “would give up paying his water bill for Spotify.” He also enjoys spending time with his family, his wife Shannon, his 10-year-old daughter Shiloh and his 8-year-old son Jove.

For students interested in careers in international diplomacy, Bland recommends to be persistent and to take advantage of all of the opportunities Tulane has to offer.

“Utilize your student status to get into student programs,” Bland said. “We have internships, fellowships and study abroad programs. All of those are seen as building blocks in making your way towards a career in the foreign service.”

If you are interested in pursuing a career with the State Department, Bland is available for meetings via Zoom and can be found in his office on the first floor of Mussafer Hall.

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