A ‘Hurricane of Positivity:’ Olga Corrias Hancock, 1977-2020

Josh Bloom and Lisa Hogan, for the Shuttle

Weavers Way board member Olga Corrias Hancock lost her two-year battle with breast cancer, one she fought with grace and determination, on Nov. 12. She died at home in Chestnut Hill, surrounded by her husband, Matt, and their children, Emilia, 4, and Bruce, 2. She was 43.

Olga joined the board in June 2018 and, though she was diagnosed only a month or two later, quickly took on multiple roles. A friend described her as “a hurricane of positivity.” She served on the Leadership Committee and then as board treasurer in 2019, while also chairing the Audit and Finance committees. She also served on the Co-op’s Plastic Reduction Task Force. She had been planning to run for president of the board when her illness took a turn.

She was a huge advocate for the Co-op and the first to volunteer for almost anything that needed a champion — or even projects that just needed an administrator.

From the beginning, Olga brought both rigor and kindness to her incisive questions, especially when the board was reviewing financial statements. She had an MBA in operations management, but her educational background was in statistics. As she once joked about her student training, “We ate math for breakfast.”

Professionally, Olga was director of donor happiness at the Untours Foundation, an anti-poverty fund based in Media. Before moving with her family to Philadelphia, she served as senior associate director of employer and alumni engagement at Princeton University and prior to that as director of alumni relations at Loyola University in Chicago.

Olga was born and grew up on the island of Sardinia, Italy, in an agricultural family; her father was a shepherd. When she joined the board, she talked about the importance of local food to local economies and how the Co-op was so meaningful to her because of its commitment to local producers, coupled with its dedication to environmental sustainability.

“The only reason [my father] was able to sustain our family and do what he loved most was because he became a vendor to a local dairy co-op,” she wrote in her 2018 candidate statement. “The powerful impact that this co-op had on many family-owned businesses is still deeply impressed in my memory. When I shop at Weavers Way, I feel that I support people who, like my father, do what they’re passionate about and can focus on delivering the best products possible to consumers.”

Olga remained a member of Co-op Adriatica, the largest Italian consumer co-op. “I know what it means for a family to balance a budget while eating healthy, locally grown food,” she wrote.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olga was in the Chestnut Hill store almost every day, part of her Italian tradition of shopping for the meals at hand. Matt and Olga have raised Emilia and Bruce to be bilingual English and Italian speakers, and her children were frequent shopping companions. Emilia calls the Chestnut Hill store “La Co-op,” and the Ambler store “La Grande Co-op” — “The Big Co-op,” in Italian.

Everyone she touched on the board and throughout our community misses Olga’s energy and positivity. She ate math for breakfast but turned it into love.

Donations in Olga’s memory can be made to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (lbbc.org).

Josh Bloom and Lisa Hogan are, respectively, the past president and Leadership Committee chair of the Weavers Way Board of Directors.