Patricia A. Garrison-Corbin, founder of Philadelphia-based financial advisory firm PG Corbin & Co., died Oct. 17 after battling breast cancer. She was 62.
Twenty-three years ago, Mrs. Corbin founded her firm. Family members said her business model was simple: to create a boutique-style firm where clients would be known by name and perhaps be served tea upon entry. She endeavored to be a prominent voice for encouraging women to sit at the executive boardroom in the financial sector.
Led by Mrs. Corbin’s passion for nurturing long-term relationships, and backed by her experience as an executive with former investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert, the firm grew to be one of the top in the United States.
In business, Mrs. Corbin’s passion was to push women to high levels in finance, a sector dominated by men when she entered the community in the 1980s. She was “instrumental in bringing women on and giving them the opportunity to sit at the boardroom table,” said granddaughter Marlease Bushnell. “Not just African-American women, but women of all nations, nationalities, and races.”
Under her leadership, PG Corbin became a top adviser in the public finance sector. In 2008 the firm consulted on 24 issues amounting to $4.39 billion, ranking them 13th overall, just one spot below Goldman, Sachs & Co. In previous years the firm had ranked as high as fourth.
One colleague described Mrs. Corbin’s approach as pragmatic, personal, and relationship-driven. The trio of qualities helped win her bookshelves of accolades. She won Revlon’s Business Woman of the Year award. In 1996, the Girl Scouts of America awarded her the Woman of Achievement Award. Western Kentucky University inducted her into its Distinguished Hall of Alumni.
Bushnell said her grandmother was broad thinking and strategic, but the underlying approach was not growth-oriented — it was ensuring that quality service was given to her clients.
Mrs. Corbin’s success was more than financial. When she formed the company in 1986, she became a leader in the minority community as the first African-American woman to run that type of Wall Street firm. This was just one of many firsts in a long string. As an undergraduate she had already been the founder of Western Kentucky University’s first black fraternal organization. She then became the first black female Alfred P. Sloan Fellow from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned her second master’s degree in 1979. And at Drexel she was the first female officer in public finance in 1985.
Mrs. Corbin was “the heart and soul of the firm,” a colleague said, but the firm’s doors will remain open under the guidance of her protégés. No formal announcement has yet been made regarding a new chief executive.
She is survived by husband James D. Corbin, her mother, two sisters, two brothers, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
A service is scheduled for Saturday at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Friends may call at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Savin Funeral Home in Philadelphia.