The Olga Corey Spirit of Community Award is given periodically to an individual or group that has advanced the quality of residential life in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. The Award identifies those whose efforts promote community as a means of ensuring the unique and special character of Foggy Bottom. Any FBA member can nominate a recipient.”
Past Award Recipients
2002 Lucille Molinelli 1st recipient, To read a June, 2002 interview with Lucille click here >
2003 Dorothy Miller & Maria Tyler
2005 Don Kruzer
FBA Archives: Olga Corey
Olga Corey Mr. Lincoln’s Staunchest Foggy Bottom Fan
by Jane Lingo | ByGeorge! | April 1997
From education to politics to independent consulting, that’s the career path of 30-year Foggy Bottom resident Olga Corey.
The daughter of intellectuals, her father a professor of economics and her mother a professor of German and Russian, she grew up in New York, NY. At the end of her third year of undergraduate studies at Queens College, her parents transferred to teaching positions at Antioch College in Ohio. She accompanied them, but only stayed one semester.
“You like where you have been,” explains Corey. She returned to New York, worked at a sales job for Macy’s department store, and graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Her first job was with the International Student Assembly in New York. Her last position in the political world was as chief of staff for Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D–IL). She entered the free-lance field in 1996, and now is “busy with three or four projects at once.”
In the intervening years, she advanced through positions of increasing responsibility. “One thing led to another,” she says of her climb. After the International Assembly, Corey went to work for labor unions, first with the textile workers and later with the electrical workers.
“In those days I traveled a lot,” Corey tells. “I was in Pennsylvania and Ohio and several other states. I love organizing. You have to like people. You felt you were doing something to help people.”
Later Corey’s career took her to the Windy City
“It was instant love after New York. The first thing is, Chicago has that lake. It was like a small town with all those neighborhoods. Midwestern people are friendly anyway.” She adds that she can “almost always tell tell if a student is from Illinois.”
Corey explains that Chicago is where she “learned politics.” She became assistant public relations director for Roosevelt College, now Roosevelt University.
“It was the first school in Chicago to admit blacks,” she notes. “It was just such an exciting place to be. I can remember Mrs. Roosevelt coming for the 25th anniversary of the school. I have never been in such awe of anybody.”
Corey’s attachment for Illinois is long-lasting. She first came to Washington, DC, in 1965, and when Feb. 12 rolled around, she thought how nice it was to have a holiday. About 10:30 am her secretary called to ask, “Aren’t you coming in to work today?” At that point Corey learned that the birthday of Abraham Lincoln was not a holiday in the District of Columbia. Still, she did not go in. Instead she called every friend from Illinois she had and threw a birthday party for “Mr. Lincoln,” complete with a big cake and singing. She has been hosting the celebration ever since, and even drapes red, white, and blue bunting around her apartment.
Corey’s first post in Washington was as a public information officer for the Equal Education Opportunities Program of the US Office of Education. She moved on to serve as communications director for the AFL-CIO Human Resources Development Institute, and then became director of the State of Illinois Office in Washington. During five years in that post, Corey served as a member of the governor’s cabinet, supervised monitoring of federal and agency developments, and made policy recommendations directly to the governor.
At the US Environmental Protection Agency, Corey worked for two separate periods in communications, managing strategies and outreach efforts for agriculture, industry, and local government. Corey also was responsible for developing new, non-traditional audiences for EPA and Energy Department programs. For her efforts, Corey was awarded the EPA Bronze Medal. It was from the EPA that Corey joined the staff of Moseley-Braun.
Finding a Home In Foggy Bottom
“I’m a very urban person,” Corey says of herself. “Joining the Foggy Bottom Association was automatic for me.” She is currently a board member. She wrote a history of Foggy Bottom.
“I’m an old-movie buff,” Corey says, noting that she once was able to walk to 30 movie theaters from her home. “Now there are just four left in the West End.”
She greatly enjoyed the recent month of Mastroianni and Bogart movies at the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute.
“It’s not the same seeing a movie at home. I like to go out to the theatre.”
A current initiative on Corey’s part is the gathering of key telephone numbers in the neighborhood to be used in case of emergency. She is collecting phone numbers of apartment managers and other important individuals for this project.
Corey also thinks Foggy Bottom should have a bulletin board and she is working on finding a place to put it. She is editing a newsletter called Sustainable Development, which advances the idea that people should live their lives in such a way that communities use their resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are available for future generations.
“I feel so strongly about people having a sense of community in their lives,” she says.
The above article is an excerpt of a profile of Corey that ran in the April 1997 edition of ByGeorge!