NATIONAL GRATITUDE MONTH: Citizen Diplomat Malcolm J. Ingram



We’re grateful for International Education and the thoughtful leaders produced by these valuable learning experiences. #IEW2021

Did you know that Councilmember Cherelle Parker and Pedro A. Ramos of The Philadelphia Foundation were Eisenhower Fellows? Hernán Guaracao Founder & CEO of AL DÍA was a Fulbright Fellow. PA State Treasurer Joseph Torsella was a Rhodes Scholar. Rue Landau and Randy Duque of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission traveled on reciprocal exchanges with Citizen Diplomacy’s Professional Fellows program.

International exchange teaches leaders to seek new and different perspectives. I delved deeper into this idea with my second interview in my November Gratitude series is with Citizen Diplomat Malcolm J. Ingram.

A Wynnewood native, Malcolm J. Ingram is an associate in the Labor & Employment Practice of Greenberg Traurig’s Philadelphia office. He was selected for a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship in 2010. He has served as a Citizen Diplomacy board member for four years. I hope you enjoy these highlights of our most recent conversation:

Siobhán: Malcolm, in addition to Citizen Diplomacy’s board, you also serve on the boards of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ, and DE, Economy League, Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, Sunday Breakfast Club, and as an Academic Board of Thomas Jefferson University. What drives you to give so much to support nonprofit organizations?

Malcolm: Like nonprofits, I am committed to investing in my community. Even when resources are low, nonprofits find a way to make a difference. In 2016, my mentor Steven Scott Bradley challenged me to become even more civically engaged and suggested a few nonprofits (including Citizen Diplomacy) that he believed I would enjoy working with. He was right, and since 2016, I’ve served on the boards of five nonprofits. Although this can be time-consuming, it never feels like work because I believe in these nonprofits’ missions and I enjoy working with their teams.

Siobhán: Both organizations are trying to elevate emerging leaders in Philadelphia through educational programming and networking. How do you think international networking can benefit young professionals in Philadelphia?

Malcolm: It’s important to relationship build and to encounter a diversity of thought and dispel stereotypes. As a nation of immigrants, understanding the history and culture of foreign nations is essential to understanding our history and culture. This is what Philadelphia’s young professionals can learn from international networking.

Hosting 2018 Fulbright Scholars for dinner and a night walking about Philadelphia.

Siobhán: Our Citizen Diplomat Academy is working to help greater Philadelphia region teens gain a global network early in their lives. Why do you think international exchange is important for teens?

Malcolm: There is a whole big world outside of Philadelphia. International exchange is important for teens because it expands their minds and provides them with a global network. It gives them a first-hand view of countries they often only dream about. The earlier you get the opportunity to expand your mind, the earlier you get to understand there are a lot of things we do great here and there are a lot of things we can learn from other countries and vice versa. Exchange promotes mutual understanding between nations.

Siobhán: After graduating from Philadelphia University, you decided to apply for a Fulbright Fellowship. How did that come about?

Malcolm: Dr. Stephen Spinelli, Philadelphia University’s former President, introduced me to the Fulbright Fellowship during the spring semester of my junior year. I applied during the fall semester of my senior year to research intellectual property law in Argentina. For me, the Fulbright Program was the perfect match because its mission is to promote mutual cultural exchange through direct interaction and immersion, and I’ve always been very passionate about learning and experiencing new cultures.

It was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I loved traveling and the opportunity to live in Argentina was incredible.

Siobhán: Can you tell us one thing you learned from your Fulbright experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina that you use today?

Malcolm: I learned patience because the concept of time is different in Argentina. There were times when I wanted to get things done right away but was unable to for reasons outside of my control. I also learned Spanish and the importance of communication in Argentina. Although I studied Spanish in high school and in college, I had limited experience speaking Spanish with native speakers. Living in Argentina allowed me to practice my Spanish daily. After four months, I developed a strong enough grasp of Spanish to hold a decent conversation and squeeze in a few jokes. And by the end of my Fulbright, my Spanish was really good.

Siobhán: Now you are at a global law firm Greenberg Traurig. How does your international/multi-cultural knowledge help you have extra skills in your professional toolbelt?

Malcolm: As an employment attorney, I occasionally encounter employees that only speak Spanish. Being able to converse with these employees in their native language generally puts them at ease and makes connecting with them easier. It also saves my clients money because they do not have to hire a Spanish interpreter.

Siobhán: What do you want to learn about on your next trip abroad?

Malcolm: Argentina holds a very special place in my heart. I am hoping to head back to Argentina over the holidays and connect with friends that are still there. It has been exactly ten years since I left. If I get back to Argentina, I hope to learn more about how the country intends to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to see what life lessons Argentina can teach me 10 years later.

As Malcolm reminds us that every time you visit a foreign country, you learn new things. It’s that learning mindset thrives in Citizen Diplomats.

We are grateful for your service to Citizen Diplomacy Malcolm and look forward to the adventures to come in 2022.

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