Tom Ingram appointed leader-in-residence at Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership

By Kim Chaudoin on 9/22/2011



Tom Ingram, for four decades an influential adviser to corporate and government officials and a public servant known for his bipartisan, common sense approach to governing, has been appointed leader-in-residence at the Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership at Lipscomb University.

“I’m honored to return to my alma mater at a key point in its history as its leadership and students are increasingly more engaged in civic life. The Andrews Institute is breaking new ground in leadership education and I’m pleased to be a part of that,” said Ingram, a 1968 Lipscomb graduate.

Ingram is founder of The FIRST Group in Washington, D.C., and The Ingram Group in Nashville. His current clients include Gaylord, National Healthcare Corporation, Eastman Chemical, Corrections Corporation of America, Louisiana Pacific, Google, Exxon, General Electric and American Airlines.

Ingram will contribute to the new Master’s in Civic Leadership program, help develop a statewide leadership initiative and engage on the Lipscomb campus state and national business and political leaders, both well known and obscure, with whom he has worked.

“Tom’s breadth of experience and national reputation make him a perfect fit for the Andrews Institute,” said Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry. “As leader-in-residence, I know Tom will make a significant contribution, made even more interesting and relevant as he continues to play a direct role in current events.”

Ingram signed on last month as general consultant to presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman. Nashville’s Tennessean recently called him the “most influential person in Tennessee politics who does not hold elected office.” He continues as an advisor to Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Governor Bill Haslam after successfully guiding their statewide elections.

Ingram taught classes in leadership and communication at Lipscomb in 2010 and 2011. As leader-in-residence he will work with students to expand that class into leadership case studies and publications on leadership and Tennessee political history.

“I’ll bring my belief in the power of common sense and plain dealing to my work with students and the interviews,” Ingram said. “I want to get behind the public story and into the life, the spirit, the motivation — get to the essence of the person. Everyone has a story and it’s not always what we get for public consumption.”

Ingram spent most of the last decade as a top aide to Senate Republicans, holding the dual roles of chief of staff to Alexander and staff director for the Senate Republican Conference. As staff director, Ingram was responsible for working with Alexander to craft the Republican message in concert with priorities set by the Republican leadership. While serving in Washington, he co-founded a highly successful bipartisan Senate Chiefs of Staff group that regularly brings together a majority of the 100 Senate chiefs to explore how they and their bosses can work together to foster common ground in developing and passing legislation. Ingram was regularly named by Roll Call as one of its “Fabulous Fifty” most influential people on the Hill.

“Tom Ingram is uniquely suited with his local, state and national experience to be the Andrews Institute’s first leader-in-residence. Our students will benefit from his bipartisan approach as a public official and his success in bringing private, nonprofit and public resources together for the common good,” said Linda Peek Schacht, a former senior fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership and Center for Business and Government and executive director of the institute.

Ingram landed several times in the private sector — first as founder and president of The Ingram Group in 1983, later as director at Whittle Communications and as CEO of the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership. His noted expertise in crisis management and strategic thinking was first sharpened in 1979 when his former boss, newly elected Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander, was notified that he would be sworn in early because of a developing scandal in the previous administration. Just named the deputy governor and chief of staff, Ingram immediately put together a strategy that forged the right message, neutralized naysayers and made friends out of old enemies. Alexander went on to serve two terms and has been called one of the state’s most popular governors. In 2002, he rejoined Alexander to run his successful campaign for the United States Senate. In March 2010, he joined three other former Senate chiefs in founding The FIRST Group, the Washington, D.C. office of The Ingram Group.