Expand Your Horizons with these NOLA Professional Organizations

Connections are an important part of building your career. Even if you don’t plan on networking, professional organizations can introduce you to influential members of the community, help you build friendships and possibly even lead you to a new job. In a city like New Orleans, employees and job-seekers have access to a wide range of professional organizations. Learn about a few of these organizations and how you can get involved.


504ward is one of several local organizations that connects professionals to influential community members. (Photo courtesy 504ward on Facebook)

Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association

Since 1924, GNOHLA has connected lodging professionals to education, marketing, civic relations, and legislation in a holistic effort to represent the rights and interests of the hospitality industry. Members have access to workshops and scholarships with the added benefit of recognition and visibility.

Louisiana Restaurant Association

Established in 1946, this association promotes one of our city’s biggest assets – the restaurant industry. Membership benefits include a tax deduction, employee training and certification, and access to the association’s print and digital publications, which include opportunities for advertising. The LRA also has its share of fun, like its recent sponsorship of a gingerbread competition with a charitable angle.

International Special Events Society, New Orleans Chapter

New Orleans sees special events throughout the year, from Mardi Gras and French Quarter Fest to Jazz Fest and major sporting events. With their tagline to “Keep calm and event on, y’all,” the New Orleans chapter of the International Special Events Society stays especially busy. Membership benefits bring with them business opportunities and plenty of social networking within the ISES community.


Developed specifically for young professionals, 504ward is a comprehensive organization that hosts signature events, workshops, panels, and opportunities to make connections. Membership is free, and includes access to email newsletters that outline plenty of special events aimed at retaining young talent (whether new or native) typically ages 23-35.

The Links

The New Orleans chapter of The Links is actively involved in youth services across the city with the ultimate goal of preparing young people for career success as they transition into adults. At the core of The Links’ focus is early literacy and mentorship programs from kindergarten through college. The Links, which started in 1957, also supports Historically Black Colleges and Universities, making it a powerful force for education in the city. Most notably, they jointly sponsor (along with The Times-Picayune and other local institutions) the annual local qualifier for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Young Leadership Council

Through a mix of community projects and volunteering opportunities, the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans (YLC) recruits and retains the city’s young professionals to improve quality of life throughout the entire region. Since 1986, YLC has raised more than $25 million to support community projects. In New Orleans, YLC is responsible for the welcoming lights that dot the Crescent City Connection Bridge as well as the “New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home” initiative you may have seen around town. More YLC projects include the Wednesday at the Square concert series, YLC Kicks, and Power Ties, a career awareness program that provides special workshops for 8th graders.