Public housing

A two-time BGSU graduate, he brings his life experience in public housing to his new role as Senior Advocate for Federal Housing and Urban Development


A two-time Bowling Green State University alumna will soon have the opportunity to make a broader impact on communities in Ohio and across the country as a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Biden-Harris administration.

Early life and college

Before graduating from high school, Corey Minor Smith ’96, ’98 moved 21 times and attended 14 different schools in three states. At one point she was a resident of the same public housing authority at which she would later become general counsel.

“Each of these points helped prepare me for the work I do now,” she said. “Having lived experiences with many of the social ills that federal funds help address gives me a broader understanding, a broader level of empathy, and a direct connection to many of the issues that HUD programs attempt to address. Knowing all that my mother and I went through when I was younger, I understand the importance of housing on an individual’s quality of life.

At one of the high schools Minor Smith attended, her teacher, Norma Washington, used the phrase “undesirable circumstances” to describe her situation. This same teacher helped Minor Smith apply to BGSU, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling, now known as Master of Education in School Guidance. Minor Smith earned his law degree from the University of Toledo.

“I’ve turned that two-word phrase of ‘undesirable circumstances’ into my life motto,” Minor Smith said. “Do not allow undesirable circumstances to be excuses for your failure, but allow them to be reasons for you to excel.”

Dr. Lisa Chavers, retired assistant dean of BGSU’s Graduate College, is confident that the enthusiasm, drive and tenacity that Minor Smith demonstrated as a student will serve her well at HUD.

“I believe Corey will have a profound and lasting impact on those she meets in her new role as senior counsel at HUD,” Chavers said. “People around her will quickly notice her compassionate heart. She is a lifelong learner and will bring creative solutions to problems. She is a team player and will continue to grow in her new environment because it is what the Falcons are doing.

A career in housing

Prior to her federal appointment, Minor Smith spent a decade as general counsel for the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority in Canton, Ohio, where she and her mother once resided.

She developed and then ran its legal department, negotiated more than $50 million in contracts, and helped the housing authority achieve $80,000 in savings a year.

As Chief Compliance Officer for the City of Canton from 2008-2011, Minor Smith was instrumental in the development and direction of the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP). It was one of six FHAP programs in Ohio and was used as a model for other programs across the country.

Minor Smith ran her own law firm and was the first black person elected citywide when she held office on the Canton City Council. Her motivational memoir titled “#Driven” chronicles her life with a mother who had mental illness and serves as a resource for people in similar situations. Minor Smith is deeply passionate about mental health advocacy and is a renowned speaker on the subject.

Forging a path forward

Minor Smith uses the challenges she faced growing up as inspiration to chart a path for others to follow.

“I’m a whole first generation,” she said. “There was no benchmark or roadmap for anything I did. Being in this role and walking this path, I hope others will find it easier to achieve their goals.

Leon D. Bibb ’66, a Cleveland news anchor and former BGSU board chairman who knows Minor Smith through a mutual friend, said he’s proud of his accomplishments and dedication continuing in public service.

“Corey Minor Smith, a proud and distinguished alumnus of our Bowling Green State University and a native daughter of our great state of Ohio, will bring superior skills to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” said Bibb. “She will be a tireless advocate for the civil rights of all of our citizens and our nation’s most vulnerable communities, as she always has been.”

Minor Smith is a board member of the BGSU Alumni Association.