Veteran Counterterrorism Expert Sings Praises of His Career in National Security.
Story by Dawn Klavon
Whether it was while interning at the White House, working with INTERPOL, convening with Afghan warlords, speaking at the International Spy Museum or mentoring youth, Dexter Ingram has always been out to change the world.
“It’s about just being a good human,” he says. “All these opportunities came about by me doing what speaks to me.”
Currently serving as Director at the Office of Countering Violent Extremism in the US Department of State, this DC insider spent his entire career in national security. After serving as a White House intern, a US Navy flight officer and a member of a think tank focusing on weapons of mass destruction, Ingram knew he was drawn to the field. Following September 11th, 2001, he was asked to join the newly created House Select Committee on Homeland Security, serving as the Terrorism, Science and Technology Lead. In 2006, it led him to the US Department of State, where he continues making a name for himself.
“I jumped into the world of diplomacy, learning critical languages and the importance of partners—especially in global coalitions,” Ingram says. “Along the way, I worked closely with the FBI and DHS, and even worked overseas at INTERPOL.”
Ingram’s career led him to far flung locales like Helmand Province in Afghanistan and Lyon, France for assignments.
“I feel like I make a difference. I definitely connect with people,” he says. “I connected with the warlords and the provincial leaders [in Afghanistan]. I spoke Pashto. I knew their culture. I knew their families. I was honest with them.”
Following his passion, Ingram spent years working for the Special Envoy in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, as the Deputy Director and Acting Director. He recently began a new role heading the Office of Countering Violent Extremism.
“I like to lead because I want to make sure people are taken care of."
Community Service at Home
On any given day, Ingram can be found at his (not so) nine-to-five job at the State Department, speaking to elementary school students about the joys of STEM education or spinning yarns to visitors at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, where he serves on the Advisory Board.
"Dex Ingram's contributions to the International Spy Museum's education mission are exceptional,” says Chris Costa, Executive Director of the International Spy Museum. “He's not only an expert at the US Department of State on a range of national security issues, but he's an authority on spy artifacts and his passion for the world of spying is unmatched.”
Ingram says, though he has never been a spy, his downtime hobby over the past 30 years has been collecting spy memorabilia, which he has amassed into a significant collection.
While leading the Counterterrorism Bureau’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility programming last year, Ingram suggested soliciting career advice from the office’s most senior Black official. He was disappointed when he found out it was him, though he notes now there is a political appointee more senior than him. That realization helped him conclude that he wanted to inspire other minorities to serve. A married father of two boys, Ingram is dedicated to reaching the next generation, extolling the advantages of a career in national security—especially to underserved populations. His non-profit organization, IN Network, reaches out to students aged 13 to 26, navigating future careers in national security.
“Something I started saying years ago to young people is, 'You can have an internship in Geneva; you can have an internship in Prague; you really don’t have to just look around Baltimore. You can look globally. There’s so much out there,' and exposing folks to the possibilities is my number one priority in life.”