John Ingraham ’52, MBA ’57 has been a proud member of the Schlesinger Library Council for the past decade. His mother fought in Milwaukee for women’s right to vote, so when he visited Harvard’s campus to celebrate his 50th reunion, in 2002, he decided to explore the Schlesinger’s collections on the suffrage movement. Always a fan of the Harvard libraries, Ingraham says, he spent the afternoon “just sticking my nose under the stacks.” What he found was a revelation. “This,” he says, “was something I wanted to support.”
After Ingraham gave his reunion gift to the library in honor of his mother, Nancy F. Cott invited him to join the Schlesinger Library Council. Cott had just arrived at the Radcliffe Institute from Yale to lead the library as the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director.
Ingraham has “enjoyed immensely” the opportunity to be a member of the council, which not only helps him keep in touch with the University, but also gives him a chance to learn about the cutting-edge technology the library uses to make its collections available to scholars in Cambridge and around the world. He is excited by the diversity of Radcliffe’s Fellowship Program and the international focus of many of the Institute’s public events.
Ingraham’s interest in the Institute’s international reach is almost certainly rooted in his professional experience. One of just six students plucked from his Harvard Business School class for a career at Citibank, he has worked for nearly six decades in international finance—a career that has taken him from New York to Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
He spent much of the 1980s in Latin America, overseeing the bank’s interests at a time when many countries in that region found themselves unable to repay their foreign debt. That, Ingraham says, was a formative experience. “I began to appreciate the profound differences between the sheltered way I was brought up and what it’s like to live, as a human being, in the emerging markets.”
Although he continues to travel as the head of risk aggregation for Citigroup—most recently to Central Europe to explore the economic effects of the political situation there—Ingraham makes community service a priority. For 20 years, he has served on a committee that evaluates tips made to New York City’s Crime Stoppers hotline and grants rewards in cases where a tip has helped solve a crime. The Crime Stoppers program has resolved more than 5,300 violent crimes since its inception, in 1983, leading Ingraham and his fellow committee members to pay out more than $1.8 million in rewards.
“I was brought up to believe that everybody has a responsibility for some community service,” Ingraham says. “Crime Stoppers is my commitment to New York. The Schlesinger Library Council is my commitment to Harvard.”