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Peter & Stephanie Nolan

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From the perspective of more than 40 years in the investment business sector, Peter Nolan’s appraisal of Catholic education is to back it with as many resources as possible. In return, there is a payoff for everyone involved.

“My professional training as an investor is to look for undervalued areas,” says Nolan, who heads Nolan Capital Inc. in Hermosa Beach. “One of the greatest undervalued social assets in the country is Catholic education because it delivers an incredibly superior product at a better cost and a better outcome.

“What a lot of governments are trying to achieve, Catholic schools are practicing every day in terms of taking kids who wouldn’t be able to access quality education from diverse backgrounds and really teaching them that we’re all the same brothers and sisters.”

Stephanie Nolan will second that if only from watching how the couples’ three children – Michael, Robert and Elizabeth – were nurtured in schools such at American Martyrs Catholic School in Manhattan Beach plus Loyola High School and Marymount High School in Los Angeles.

“It provided such a fabulous foundation and allowed us all to grow in our faith,” she says. “It’s about keeping family values when things might feel they’re crumbling around us. It’s important for a family to have something to lean on — and what’s a greater force than God and our faith?”

For their unwavering yet understated support of a variety of Catholic education programs and institutions in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Peter and Stephanie Nolan are being recognized by the Cardinal’s Award. Even if it is far from what they seek.

“The Nolans are faith-filled people who don’t just speak about their Catholicity but actually live it,” said Msg. John Barry, their pastor at American Martyrs. “They quietly reach out and support those in need and seem to lift them up without any expectation of being publically affirmed for it.”

Peter and Stephanie Nolan are both graduates of Cornell University and went to school there at the same time in the 1980s – but did not connect until they both moved individually to the South Bay area of Southern California. At Cornell, where their three children also graduated, the evidence of their support is seen in many ways, including the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration.

Peter grew up with a Catholic upbringing in central New York, the son of a dairy farmer who worked in agriculture administration. Even with his own degree in agriculture economics and finance as well as an MBA, Peter went into corporate finance and investment banking.

Stephanie, who grew up in Ithaca, was influenced by her mother’s Catholic upbringing and the way her Catholic education got their family through tough times.

Eventually, a family foundation was established for projects dear to them. That includes the Catholic Education Foundation, their children’s high school alma maters, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, the Saint Sebastian Sports Project, St. Lawrence of Brindisi Literacy Center — and recently launching the Reading Intervention Program at St. Frances X. Cabrini School in a high-risk area of Los Angeles on top of providing eight scholarships for elementary school.

“The program bridges the literacy gap that our children greatly need,” said St. Frances X. Cabrini School principal Carmen A.O. Hart. “We are so grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Nolan giving us their confidence and support to our commitment to excellence in education. They are one of our best advocates in educating our children.”

Stephanie Nolan’s decades of volunteer and tutoring work in Catholic schools has shown her that “these kids feel genuinely happier and more confident in what they’re doing. They have a rock to sit on if they need it. Without that, it’s easy to get lost.”

Another example of the Nolans’ rock-solid response to immediate needs is illustrated in the recent life-changing events of their longtime American Martyrs parish friends David and Marty Radanovich.

In November of 2020, their son, Joe, became paralyzed from the chest down as the result of a car accident while he was a freshman at Texas Christian University. After the Nolans flew the Radanovichs to Dallas to be with Joe, they helped mobilize a group to pack up, redesign and upgrade ADA wheelchair accessibility at the Radanovich’s Westchester home. It took some 80 hours a week for four months to get it done.

After many more months of rehab, Joe Radanovich, who had been a volleyball standout at L.A. Loyola High, is back digging in on his studies at TCU.

Marty Radanovich says when Peter and Stephanie Nolan initially flew out to Texas to comfort them, “I could see in both their eyes their deep love for Joe and my family. The astonishing amount of hours Steph put in was because of love and friendship.”

Marty Radanovich notes that in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays and asks God to open their minds, hearts, eyes and ears to know the hope which Jesus Christ has called them.

“Stephanie and Peter have victoriously heard the call,” Marty adds. “There isn’t a moment too big or too small that Steph and Peter do not respond to the Lord. Words of gratitude may be too small, but the love God created in them is so wondrously big.”