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Corey Jamison, PhD: “If you couldn’t fail, what would you do?”

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Dr. Corey Jamison, PhD, owner of Corey Jamison Consulting, is a well-known business consultant in the Capital Region and on a national level and is considered among many affectionately as a maverick for women’s rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion. 

She credits her parents for the example they set for what abiding love looks like in action. She noted that her mother was a change agent ahead of her time. As a first-generation Lebanese-American, she began working in organizations as a management consultant before it was a position of note and long before it was something women, especially women of color, were doing in U.S. corporations.  

Family Influence
“She was a powerful human, funny and sharp quick to laugh and hug all my friends,” she smiled. “She died of breast cancer at age 53 when I was a teenager. My father is a deeply kind and generous soul. He literally started in the mailroom of an electronics company and made his way to become president, his roots from a farm in Kentucky during the Great Depression. He has always been so generous with his expertise and time. He was a true servant leader at home and in his professional and community lives. My dad earned his doctorate at 50 years of age. I try very hard to follow in his footsteps, so it was not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I completed mine at nearly the same age. My father is a fantastic model of aging and goes to the gym five days a week, works the crossword daily and, get this, doesn’t need reading glasses! We just celebrated his 95th birthday!”  

Corey grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended Vassar College for her undergraduate degree, Fitchburg State for her master’s in education, then Walden University for her doctorate in psychology. Prior to opening her own consulting business, she spent nearly three decades as a member of a consulting firm started by her mother. She is deeply grateful for those years, and this experience was the catalyst for her taking the step to start her own business. She quelled her fear of not being good enough and chose to bet on herself. Her husband, Jon, was with her every step of the way. 

“The first year or two were fine, not great. Year three we took off like a shot, with leaders and teams around the globe in search of a new way of staying aligned, of transforming. Our work has continued to multiply, and we’re engaged with a number of Fortune 500s and some incredible startups in the healthcare, media, technology and entertainment industries,” she explained. “We also have a sub-specialty with associations, especially those close to policy and government, and that has been a particularly satisfying space in which to contribute over the past several years.”

Why Are You Here?
She is passionate about her work in the diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, space, and she believes she has made a difference to the people and organizations she has worked with. She feels the world has changed, not for the better, in her eyes. Her firm is rooted in DEI and in bringing anti-racism to life in the everyday interactions, decisions, policies and practices of organizational life. “The more we weave DEI into everyday leading, working and living, the less it will be a one off or parallel, and the more it will just be who and how we are,” Corey stated.

She and Jon met after both had navigated through challenging divorces. They became good friends, sharing their grief and hopes for their future lives. “Our children were friends, so it was easy to begin to share our days, our hopes and dreams together. There is a specific delight in being a stepmom; for me, it’s the choice to love a child, to commit to being there for them forever as I would my birth children. It’s a joy to me and has expanded my capacity to love,” she reflected. “It has not always been perfect, there have been challenging times for all of us, as individuals and a collective. Still, it is the greatest privilege of my life to be a part of this big family, to be loved by them and to love so deeply in return. They are each incredibly special and compelling people, and together, they are a laugh riot and a family each can be proud to be a part of.” 

The Next Generation
This active advocate for change does find time to enjoy herself with many hobbies. She enjoys sewing, baking chocolate chip cookies and is an avid outdoor walker. She is learning to knit, taking French lessons and looking forward to a giant summer flower garden. “Last September, at age 54, I took my first horseback riding lesson and fell in love. I’m now the ridiculously proud owner of Jaxxson, a beautiful appendix, which is a cross between a quarter horse and a thoroughbred, who I adore. A lot,” she exuded.” If you ask me a question about my horse, you should be wearing comfortable shoes and prepare to stay and listen a while. He’s fantastic. And on top of this, Jon and I are expecting our first granddaughter in a matter of days! I could not be more excited or proud of her wonderful parents-to-be!”

This year, Corey and her business partner, Julie Bush, launched a do-it-yourself marriage retreat called DIY Marriage Retreat in a Box. She has had excellent examples of how to make marriage work throughout her entire life, from the relationship her parents had to the relationship with her own husband coupled with her doctorate in psychology. DIY Marriage Retreat in a Box is a group of questions and activities couples can work through on their own at home to better understand any difficulties they are experiencing and get to know each other in a more intimate, open way.

“The DIY Marriage Retreat has been long in the making,” she smiled. “When my husband, Jon, and I met, I had three children and he had three children and we had one together early in our relationship. That’s a lot of children! At one point, we had seven children under the age of 13! We were determined to be the best partners and friends we could be for one another. We cherished our love from the moment it bloomed, and it was the cornerstone of the wonderful family we built together. Still, it was a busy household, and there was little time for us to sort out the challenges of combining lives, parenting and being a strong couple. There was even less time for planning: How would we handle finances? Conflict? Communicate effectively through all of it?”  

Personal Evolution
They decided to start doing a yearly two-day marriage retreat of their own design. As the years went on, the retreat evolved into something they both looked forward to and needed. It was two days of deep and meaningful conversations, sometimes hard, sometimes hilarious, that made the other 363 days smoother, easier and happier. “At the same time, I was increasingly experiencing executives wanting and needing to share their personal home and life challenges. Much of who they were as leaders was playing out at home for better and worse, and when home was off, their work and performance suffered,” she continued. “To ensure I was offering appropriate and the most useful counsel to executives, I completed my PhD in counseling psychology. I told executives about the retreats Jon and I did every year, and they would often ask for questions to help guide their process. The DIY Marriage Retreat in a Box took off from there!”    

What inspires Corey daily? “I am blessed to be surrounded by a courageous community of women who cheer for one another, who raise each other up, who extend a hand and show love, share joy and grief, who build a collective sense of belonging,” she affirmed. “Many years ago, I made a decision to never speak ill of another woman, because I realized that my words could have a negative impact on a woman in ways I could never see from where my feet were planted. That moment changed my life and how I saw myself and I found I gave myself much more grace and forgiveness as a result. It was a decision that freed me, and I began to see myself in a more generous, loving light.”

The Big Questions
Advice to women desiring to follow their dreams? “I often counsel women who want to launch a business on their own to consider two questions: ‘What would I do if I knew I could not fail?’ and, since life is messy and unpredictable at times, ‘What will I do if this business fails?’ Failure is part of life. We’ve had a few tough years with our consulting practice, and many amazing years. We’ve tried ventures that didn’t take off, and we’ve had many that did. It’s all part of the story of our lives, and any story worth telling has texture, ups and downs, unbridled joy and despair. These are the makings of a big life, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”  

Her belief that deep and abiding love is possible for all of us is inspiring in itself. Having been married twice before Jon, she is even more convinced that it is possible. “I wish that for every woman, for every couple. The more love, the more abiding, committed and generous partnership between people, the better,” she reiterated. “I want to be part of making that happen for couples. I feel called to it, and know it is how my passion turned into impact.”

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