The Lighter Side: Q&A with Holly Ingraham

Lighter Side Holly Ingraham

Eric Berger, Associate Editor

Holly Ingraham, Executive Director of Cultural Leadership

How long have you worked in the Jewish community?

Almost 10 years. I was hired as the first paid full-time executive director of Cultural Leadership in the fall of 2011. As many know, Cultural Leadership trains young leaders to be the next generation of civil rights leaders, and as we call them, ‘Troublemakers of the Best Kind.’

In a couple sentences, can you describe your job?

I wear many hats. I provide overall leadership for the organization, which includes representing the organization in the community, fundraising by meeting with donors, planning events, writing grants, building relationships with community partners like the St. Louis Public Schools and the Jewish Community Relations Council, and managing the finances, staff and our office, as well as supporting our board of directors.

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Has the pandemic affected the work that Cultural Leadership does?

COVID-19 has highlighted the deep public health, economic and education inequities in our community that disproportionately affect Black families, as well as the extreme hate that still exists in our country. Many of our recent alumni have been facilitating virtual ‘Courageous Conversations’ to help bring understanding of the underlying biases that lead to racism and anti-Semitism.

Do you think the pandemic will affect the way Cultural Leadership operates even once the threat of the virus subsides?

I think we have all learned some new ways to do things, and I hope we keep doing the things that make our lives more efficient and have less impact on the environment. Meetings that can be virtual, less driving by more staff working from home are two examples. 

What have you been doing to relax and wind down during the pandemic?

My partner and I have added some new rituals to our lives to help us enjoy the weekend. We take Saturdays to go on nature walks with our dogs at local and state parks. Our dogs love Don Robinson State Park. We’ve also added our own Friday evening ritual of having a meal together with candles, red wine and challah. Although we don’t identify as Jewish, we appreciate some of the rituals of Shabbat.

Where’s the first place you’d like to travel when it’s safe to do so?  

I grew up collecting baseball cards and decided as an adult to try and see games at all the MLB stadiums. I’m looking forward to getting to my last two East Coast stadiums and seeing the Phillies and the Yankees.


The Lighter Side is a weekly feature that highlights people who work and live in the St. Louis Jewish community. March’s selections are sponsored by the late Harris Frank, who was a champion of the Jewish Light and the St. Louis Jewish community. If you are interested in sponsoring future installments of this feature, please contact Betsy Schmidt at [email protected].