When Michael J. Coda died last week, he left behind a family and friends who will miss his smile and wit.
Coda, 48, died on Oct. 8, at Capital Hospice in Arlington, after a four-year battle with brain cancer. He was the vice president for external affairs at the Nature Conservancy, where he led some of the organization’s most important fund-raising and conservation endeavors for 14 years. He joined the Conservancy in 1991 as director of marketing and helped increase the organization’s annual fundraising from $90 million to more than $200 million. He was also responsible for the planning and execution of the Conservancy’s “Last Great Places” capital campaign, which raised $315 million for conservation projects around the world. During his tenure, the Conservancy’s membership increased from 500,000 to 1.2 million.
In 1998, Coda created the conservancy’s climate change program. As director, he helped negotiate several of the world’s largest carbon sequestration projects, raising more than $35 million to protect and restore over 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for biodiversity through projects in Brazil, Bolivia and Belize.
CODA WAS BORN on Oct. 20, 1955, in New York and grew up in Princeton, N.J. He received a B.A. from Denison University, Granville, Ohio, in Spanish and history and an M.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University. He moved to the metropolitan area in 1979 and worked for U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley until 1981.
He was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2000, and fought the disease for four years. Finally, the cancer returned earlier this year and was determined to be inoperable. Throughout his struggles, he remained optimistic.
Coda was involved in the Rosemont community and wrote the Rosemont neighborhood column for the Gazette from July 1997 until January 2002. “His neighborhood columns were always humorous and full of information,” said Linda Lawhorne. “Through everything, he kept his sense of humor.”
Coda leaves behind his wife Karen and two children, Emily and Matthew.
Instead of flowers, the family is asking that contributions be sent to the Michael J. Coda Conservation Award at the Nature Conservancy Attn. Daniel Smith 4245 N. Fairfax Drive Suite 100 Arlington, VA 22203, or John Hopkins Neurosurgery Attn. Kathleen Hider 100 N. Charles Street Suite 414 Baltimore, MD 21202.