Meet Evelyn Ingram: Fashionista and Syracuse Community Advocate
04/08/2022 · Making a Difference
When Evelyn Ingram moved to Syracuse to earn her public relations degree from Syracuse University, she never imagined she’d have a career working with a grocery store. After college, she worked in the P.R. field for several years, while also gaining experience in human resources. She decided to pursue a master’s degree in human resources from LeMoyne College and then moved into an H.R. role at a pharmaceuticals company. One day, Evelyn received a call that would change the course of her career.
“In the pharmaceutical world, you get lots of calls from recruiters. I wasn’t looking to leave so I wouldn’t even respond, but one day I answered a recruiter’s call, and we clicked, so I decided to meet with her,” said Evelyn. “I found out she was recruiting for Wegmans. I wasn’t really interested at that time, I saw Wegmans as a supermarket, not a corporation, but the opportunity evolved.”
Evelyn joined Wegmans in 2007 as a corporate human resources manager before taking on her current role as the divisional public and community relations director for Wegmans’ Syracuse Division. Her days are split between supporting community organizations, assisting the local Wegmans stores, and answering requests from Syracuse media.
“I love the variety in my role, just doing one thing or the other wouldn’t be enough,” said Evelyn. “I’m a compassionate person; being in a position to help others gives me satisfaction. This job provides me with a lot of fulfillment, and it’s aligned with my passion. It doesn’t feel like work.”
Evelyn’s inclination for helping others has been essential for her work with the Syracuse community. She connects with nonprofit organizations throughout the area to help them fulfill their mission.
“I work to build a relationship with each organization, so they know Wegmans is here to help,” said Evelyn. “I do site tours, meet the staff there, and get to know the directors to gain an understanding of their vision and what they do. I also make it a point to have a physical presence at their events, it’s important for them to see Wegmans represented as a community partner.”
Recently, Wegmans Syracuse division established a new partnership with Syracuse University Athletics. Though they’ve worked together for several years, the new partnership is beneficial for the college, Wegmans, and the local community. The core of the partnership is to help build a healthy lifestyle among college athletes.
“It’s more than having our name in the stadium, it’s working together to make a difference,” said Evelyn.
As part of the new partnership, Wegmans donated to the United Way of Central New York for every “sack” that the Syracuse football team made during their fall season. The team recorded 37 sacks total, and Wegmans donated $5,000 to help address hunger in Central New York. In February, they partnered with Team IMPACT, an organization that connects kids with serious and chronic illnesses to local college athletic teams. Wegmans provided a group of children with a “VIP” day, including a scavenger hunt around the store, a chance to build their own pizzas, and Wegmans goodies, like a personalized chef’s hat. The day served as the pre-event with the final event being their attendance at an SU basketball game the following week. Evelyn also connected with several local minority youth organizations to provide 50 kids with tickets and transportation to a Syracuse women’s basketball game versus Morgan State, a historically black university.
“Being able to help people, especially young people, is important to me,” said Evelyn. “We reached out to agencies that support youth of color for this event because I think it’s important for them to see other Black people succeeding, so they have something to aspire to.”
The partnership also provides nearly 2,000 Syracuse athletes with access to an assortment of Grab & Go Wegmans brand products curated through a collaboration between Wegmans’ nutrition team and SU’s sport’s nutritionist. The products help to encourage and build a healthy lifestyle among college athletes.
In addition to providing financial support to local nonprofits, Evelyn helps find volunteers to staff community events, brings together organizations working toward similar goals to create a bigger impact, and serves as a board member for a variety of Syracuse organizations.
“I enjoy providing strategic leadership, council and advice, and I like planning fundraising events as well,” Evelyn said regarding her work as a board member.
In 2015 and 2018, Evelyn served as Chair for the Go Red for Women campaign sponsored by the American Heart Association. She was the first to serve in this capacity for multiple years. Tapping into her love of fashion, she reimagined the annual fundraiser luncheon to create a vibrant event that significantly exceeded campaign goals and realized the highest amount of dollars raised in the history of the campaign for the region at that time.
“When they asked me to serve, I said I’d do it, if I was allowed to be myself. Let me be Evelyn, with my style,” said Evelyn. “They were onboard, and I revamped the whole luncheon – table décor, pipes and drapes, the whole design. I introduced the community leaders and had them walk the runway. I love fashion and was acting as the commentator for the fashion show. We had a DJ, and we ended the event with the electric slide. It was so fun to see everyone get up and do it together – how many luncheons do you go to where you do something like that?”
Evelyn’s interest in event planning and helping the Syracuse community led her to take on an economic development project called “The Castle.” Evelyn and her husband, Chino, purchased a 30,000 square foot vacant church on the south side of Syracuse in a predominantly impoverished Black neighborhood with the intention of creating an event space, networking lounge, and training center. The project will bring jobs to the area, provide economic support, and will hopefully catapult other investments in the neighborhood.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but the community has really grasped on to the project. The church has been vacant for years and people are excited to see it come to life,” said Evelyn. “I’m used to being the one helping organizations and giving money, not asking for it, so this project has been humbling.”
Evelyn’s decision to take a chance on a job at a grocery store has blossomed into a rewarding career. Her son, Austin, also joined Wegmans three years ago as a cashier.
“Early on in my career, I tried to keep my professional and personal life separate,” said Evelyn. “But as I’ve grown, people have really gotten to know me. I appreciate that Wegmans allows me to be who I am.”