Q&A with Troy Nash – 2017 UMKC Defying the Odds Alumni Award Winner

For the latest issue of Res Ipsa, we spoke with Troy Nash (J.D. ’97, M.A. ’05, M.A. ’11, MBA ’13), the 2017 UMKC Defying the Odds Alumni Award Winner. 

Growing up in a single- parent home in Kansas City, Missouri, Troy L. Nash worked odd jobs to help his mother make ends meet. The family bounced from home to home, forcing him to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. And adapt he did. After high school, Nash joined the U.S. Air Force where he says he learned the importance of making his own way in life.

Mentors have helped you and made key differences throughout the course of your professional life. How did they become your mentor and what did you learn from them?

Troy Nash: I believe the universe brings people into your life at just the right time. Rosemary Lowe taught me to appreciate my history in this country and to treat all people with decency and respect. Hugh Zimmer believed in me with respect to what I could accomplish in the business world before I believed in myself. He made me work harder, smarter and do all things with integrity. He is more like a father figure than a mentor. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II taught me many things, one of which is that you can be an honorable, decent person and be involved in public service. All of them I love very much for what they have done for me and others in this community.

Your work in public service began even before you attended law school and eventually led to you being elected as a city councilman. Why was it important for you to become actively involved in public service?

I love people and I have a lot of energy. So I figured why not do something to help other people? My focus and goals never change — before public office, during public office, after public office and even now. I still love people. I still love helping people.

You have earned four degrees from UMKC and a total of six degrees in your lifetime. Why do you continue to go back to school?

I love learning and seeking knowledge. For me, going to school was secondary to fulfilling this insatiable appetite to know more. So my logic was very elementary. Since I am going to read all these things anyway, I might as well go to school and get a piece of paper showing I studied all these things.

Why did you choose to study at UMKC?

I did not choose to study at UMKC. UMKC chose me. And we have had a wonderful love affair since 1994. We are doing life together.

In your current role as Managing Director-Principal and Director of Public Sector Consulting with Newmark Grubb Zimmer, you were named principal and shareholder in 2014. You were the first African American real estate executive in a local top 10 commercial firm to earn this distinction. What does breaking such boundaries and making strides for both yourself and others in the community mean to you?

On one hand, it is pathetic that all those African- American women and men who came before me did not have an opportunity to showcase their talents

in this industry. On the other hand, thank God for people like Hugh Zimmer who not only has the power to change lives, but to use that power in a way that empowers others. It just simply means that some other kid will one day be able to learn my story and know that in this industry it is possible.

What is your personal mantra or best advice you’ve ever received?

Somebody’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.


– By Bridget Koan

Published: Jan 8, 2018