Leaders Leading Leaders
By Ryan Rutledge
One month before the start of my FBI National Academy (NA) session, the class came together for a virtual informational meeting with the NA staff. The students, comprised of law enforcement and military leaders, were noticeably excited (and maybe a little anxious) about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
During the meeting, the staff introduced us to the International Partnership Program (IPP). The application described the expectations of the selected individuals.
Looking for an experienced leader and trusted advisor to guide, support, and provide direction to an international student. The partner will assist the student to assimilate into the new culture, share knowledge, and help with problem-solving. We are looking for enthusiastic and respectful leaders to serve as ambassadors for the National Academy.1
I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to support an international student while they are away from home. Feeling a connection to the program, I completed an application immediately.
A few weeks later, I found out that I had been selected as a member of the IPP team, partnered with Major Philipp Sennhauser from the Kantonspolizei St. Gallen in Switzerland.
On check-in day, I met Philipp in the FBI Academy lobby. After helping him get settled, we toured the campus. I did not know it at that moment, but our partnership would eventually grow into a friendship in which we leaned on each other for support throughout the NA experience.
Philipp and I talked daily, walked around campus, and went on group outings to solidify our international partnership. Our discussions covered family, cultural norms, professional experience, political systems, life achievements, and goals. Through these open conversations, I discovered and found it interesting that we shared more similarities than differences.
The IPP enhanced my overall NA experience, providing me with added leadership education through collaborative events, group meetings, and individual discussions with team members.
While international students are not new to the NA, the IPP is — it was first offered during Session 281 in 2021. Each NA session varies in class size, but my class hosted a total of 21 international partners.
When compared with the traditional NA experience, the IPP provides an added responsibility and leadership opportunity. Selected domestic students serve as a roommate and cohort to an international student during the 10-week NA session. Interested domestic students must apply for the program approximately one month before their class date.
“The foundation of the IPP is based on three fundamental FBI values — leadership, compassion, and diversity. [Its] mission is to promote leadership values worldwide and to create long-lasting partnerships.”2
Besides providing partners for international students, the IPP holds several formal events throughout each NA session.
- Welcome Night
- Group collaboration exercise
- Team dinner
- FBI Hostage Rescue Team tour
- International student panel
- International Night (featuring food, drink, and culture from students’ home countries)
- International student visit to FBI headquarters
“The foundation of the IPP is based on three fundamental FBI values — leadership, compassion, and diversity.”
Many informal events, organized by the students, also take place during the session. For example, my class attended baseball games and festivals; visited museums; toured the White House and Pentagon; took trips to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia; went hiking, bowling, and to the movies; and ate at restaurants off campus. The most productive conversations and sharing of ideas often came during those informal events.
The International Partnership Program has expanded my view of international relationships, realizing that our world is much smaller and more interconnected than I previously thought.
Leaders lead leaders in the IPP, with the goal of making each other better. I encourage all future National Academy nominees to apply for the program. They will enjoy a more well-rounded experience and return to their department a more open-minded and stronger leader.
“Leaders lead leaders in the IPP, with the goal of making each other better.”
Student and Staff Interviews
1) Please explain the value of the IPP.
“Historically, international students have faced numerous challenges upon their arrival to the U.S. and to the National Academy. Among these challenges are culture shock; language barriers; distance from their loved ones; lack of communication resources, such as Wi-Fi and cell phones; lack of transportation to participate in outside events; and lack of networking opportunities. Having domestic students paired with international students immediately upon arrival can help eliminate many of these issues. The students will guide, support, and provide direction to one another. Both international and domestic students will learn from one another’s cultures and professions.” — IPP founder
2) Where do you envision the IPP in the next five years?
“I envision the program to be well-known worldwide for its success and accomplishments through the partnerships. I hope for the involvement of other FBI units and organizations … [and] to have a designated budget to support the program’s needs.” — IPP founder
3) Describe the IPP in one word or phrase.
“Uniting the world by breaking barriers through selfless leadership.” — IPP founder
“Global policing.” — Chief Henry King, domestic partner (Edenton, North Carolina, Police Department)
“We became partners by careers and friends by choice.” — Captain Trenade Paddock-Roberts, domestic partner (Corpus Christi, Texas, Police Department)
“A once-in-a-lifetime experience.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)
4) What has been the most challenging part of being involved in the IPP?
“Ensuring that my IPP partner has everything he needs. I just wanted to ensure that [he] does not get left out of things since he is our guest here in the United States.” — Chief Henry King, domestic partner (Edenton, North Carolina, Police Department)
“It has been exhausting getting back into reading, writing, and speaking English again. I needed to get organized the first few days.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)
5) What has been your favorite part of being involved in the IPP?
“The networking and learning … , especially on how [international students] would handle crime issues compared to how we take things here in the U.S.” — Chief Henry King, domestic partner (Edenton, North Carolina, Police Department)
“Getting to know all of the international students and spending time with each of them. I think from the beginning, the international students knew I was part of the team and were comfortable reaching out to me.” — Captain Trenade Paddock-Roberts, domestic partner (Corpus Christi, Texas, Police Department)
“All of it! It is hard to pick out a single topic which is exceptional. The way we support each other is unique. We feel more like a big family rather than law enforcement personnel.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)
6) What were your impressions of the NA when you first arrived at Quantico?
“I felt welcomed, but it was also a little overwhelming. Coming to the FBI is quite special as a European. You don’t deal with the FBI every day; it was exciting and fascinating. I only knew of the Marines and FBI from the movies.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)
7) In your opinion, what is the most valuable leadership lesson you have learned at the NA?
“Each instructor links to leadership. It makes you think about things you can do better. Courses offer best practices, and the verbal exchanges with other students are the most beneficial. We all have the same problems; we share ideas on how to try and solve them.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)
8) What would you recommend for future domestic partners joining the IPP team?
“I would recommend the IPP to all NA students because you can learn so much from [international students], and it allows you to see policing from a different angle.” — Chief Henry King, domestic partner (Edenton, North Carolina, Police Department)
“Do something as a group early on so [the international students] get to know you. There was a group of us ladies who all went wine tasting the second week here, and we made bonds during that trip.” — Captain Trenade Paddock-Roberts, domestic partner (Corpus Christi, Texas, Police Department)
9) What would you recommend for future international partners joining the IPP team?
“Please don’t be afraid. You won’t embarrass yourself. Americans are interested in our opinions.” — Major Philipp Sennhauser, international partner (Kantonspolizei St. Gallen, Switzerland)3
Commander Ryan Rutledge serves with the Renton, Washington, Police Department and is a graduate of FBI National Academy Session 283. He can be reached at email@example.com.
1 Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Academy Unit, “Introduction to the FBI National Academy and International Partnership Program” (presentation to the FBI National Academy Session 283, Quantico, VA, June 7, 2022).
2 International Partnership Program founder, interview by author, Quantico, VA, 2022.
3 National Academy students and staff, interviews by author, Quantico, VA, 2022.