Cincinnati Chamber unveils the new five-year strategic framework to foster regional growth

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Recognize & Celebrate businesses & people

Great Living Cincinnatians: Honorees

Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.

Virginia J. Coffey

Awarded In 1993

Dec. 14, 1904 – Aug. 26, 2003


Virginia J. Coffey’s contributions to the quality and equality of life in Greater Cincinnati began in 1924 when she came to Cincinnati to teach elementary school.

Shocked at the segregation in the school system and throughout much of the city, she resolved to make a difference.

“Changing the system to make it a better place for all Cincinnatians became my lifetime goal,” she said.

Throughout her career in public and social service, Coffey has built a hands-on, working knowledge of the city’s social fabric and power structure. And, she said, “I studied law as if I were a lawyer, learning what existing law provides, then using it to break discriminatory practices.”

Mrs. Coffey’s service included five years as executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, where she headed a coalition of representatives of religious and educational councils, civic groups, social agencies and organizations such as the NAACP, working to identify weaknesses in the community and plan strategies for effecting change.

Early in her career, Coffey worked for the West End Branch of the YWCA and as director of youth activities for Carmel Presbyterian Church, where she organized the city’s first black Girl Scout troop in 1944. The Girl Scouts soon hired her to oversee a program that integrated troops and day camps.

Mrs. Coffey led extensive community relations efforts in the West End, East End, Over-the-Rhine and Mt. Auburn.

Nominate a Great Living Cincinnatian

Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization