Cheryl Corley receives 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Headline Club

For Chicagoans, no journalist has done more than Cheryl Corley to capture the wrenching social justice issues that erupted into a global firestorm and catalyst for change last year.

As an NPR national correspondent based in the city for more than two decades, she made herself an expert on issues and reform efforts affecting women, girls and juveniles.

She is one of two recipients of the Chicago Headline Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

Corley covered some of the country’s most important news stories: the political turmoil in Virginia over the governor’s office and a blackface photo, the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, mass shootings in Orlando, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; and other cities. She also vividly captured for listeners the election of Chicago’s first Black female and lesbian Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

Watch Corley’s Lifetime Achievement video below:

Before joining NPR, she was the news director at Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also worked as the City Hall reporter covering the administration of the city’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington. Her many accolades include awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop’s Studs Terkel Award for Excellence in Reporting on Chicago’s diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues. A Chicago native, she graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria and is a former Bradley University trustee.

While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for WCBU public radio station and as a television director for the NBC affiliate WEEK-TV. She is a past president of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago (AWJ-Chicago). She also is the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school students was originally a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre.

Cheryl Corley, left, with her colleagues at WBEZ in the late 1980s.