First look at SRU’s First Lady

Published by Adam Zook, Author: Adam Zook - News Editor, Date: October 11, 2018
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When people ask Leah Ingram how the transition from New Jersey to Slippery Rock has been for her and her husband, she finds herself giving similar answers.

“I just tell people that western Pennsylvania isn’t all that different from where we used to live in eastern Pennsylvania,” Ingram said. “The only real difference is that here you don’t say soda or sneakers; it’s pop and tennis shoes.”

Ingram is the mother of two and the wife of newly appointed university president Dr. William Behre. She has had a successful career as a freelance writer, publishing a total of 15 books and penning hundreds of articles. “Bill and Leah’s Excellent Adventure” is the phrase she uses to describe her and her husband’s new life in Slippery Rock.

The film references don’t stop there. Ingram affectionately compares her and Bill’s relationship to the film “When Harry Met Sally.”

“We actually first met in fourth grade and graduated high school together,” Ingram said. “We really didn’t like each other all that much back then. After college, we reconnected one day when we were both out visiting our moms for Mother’s Day. We ran into each other on the train platform in Long Island, and there’s this sort of etiquette rule that if you see someone you know that you have to ride with them.”

After continually running into each other in New York City, Ingram felt as though the universe was trying to tell them something. They’ve now been married for nearly 26 years and have two daughters.

In the early 1990s, shortly after her and Bill’s marriage, Ingram was trying to get her career started as a freelance writer as her husband began to build his profile in education. It was around this time that she published her first book on wedding planning, a subject that she had recently learned all about.

“Whenever I was in school pursuing my journalism degree, they always taught us to write what we know,” Ingram said. “I had just gotten married, so I knew that I’d be able to offer some advice on how to properly budget and prepare for a wedding.”

Ingram got her bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, often joking that she is the most uneducated member of the family. In terms of accomplishment however, her prowess as a published writer is very much on par with Bill’s accomplishments in academia.

She signed a contract with Parade magazine in 2013 and regularly contributes three to five articles a month, and recently started contributing pet content as well to their website. Ingram is even featured in Parade’s print publications. Prior to that, most of her clients were custom publications. Brands like Delta and Costco that have magazines have featured some of her articles.

With a growing number of freelance writers working for lower rates, Ingram said that new challenges are presented with an ever changing industry.

“I’m still excited to get up in the morning and work on my writing,” Ingram said. “Many freelancers now work for free, and rates across the industry have grown stagnant since I got into the field. I work twice as hard to make half as much.”

This does not dissuade her, however, as Ingram prides herself on embracing change and opening herself up to new experiences. In the wake of the financial crisis in 2007, Ingram wrote a book entitled Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less about learning to budget better in the face of adversity.

The subhead for her website reads “From Suddenly Frugal to Confident Spender”, indicating the change in her life and in the content she produced as a writer. This harkens back to Ingram’s philosophy of writing what she knows, and she’s still gaining new experiences that help her work.

“Everything I wrote about was saving money or paying down debt, and that went on for nine years,” Ingram said. “Things improved and we didn’t have to be so frugal anymore. I still love writing about personal finance. For our family, it’s always been about making the best use of our money and time.”

Ingram said that she and her husband are excited for their excellent adventure in Slippery Rock. She joked that it’s like adopting 8,000 students with how close they are to campus. Her dogs Oscar and Sadie are a regular sight on campus, and she encourages students to come over and pet them and have a conversation with her and her husband.

“I do what I can to support Bill in whatever he does,” Ingram said. “This is different than everything that we’ve ever done before, and we’re both thrilled about the opportunity to try something new.”

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