March 24, 2016

Donor Appreciation: Cynthia and Thomas Coad – A Legacy of Learning

In celebration of the Tiger Woods Learning Center’s 10th anniversary, we look back at and give thanks to our community of donors, who have dedicated their resources and efforts to help us get where we are today. In a Q&A with Cynthia and Thomas Coad, two of the TWLC’s first major advocates, we shine a light on their instrumental role in helping the Learning Center break ground in Anaheim in 2004. 

“Without Cynthia and Tom, the Tiger Woods Learning Center wouldn’t be here,” reflects Kathy Bihr, TWLC’s vice president of programs and education. 

With their philanthropic donation to the Learning Center and their unwavering support to help secure the land, the TWLC found its home in Anaheim. 

Q: How did you get involved with the Tiger Woods Foundation? 

Cynthia Coad: The main purpose of my decision to run for the County of Orange Board of Supervisors was to provide more opportunities for youth. The successful result of a collaboration with the County of Orange Board of Supervisors, the City of Anaheim City Council, the Anaheim Union High School District and the Tiger Woods Learning Center has provided positive results for the youth throughout Orange County and beyond. The Tiger Woods Learning Center is a dream come true! 

Thomas Coad: The Tiger Woods Learning Center was a very special project for Cynthia. She said, “Tom, I want this.” 

After being married to her for 50 years at that time, I knew that the joy of my retirement years would severely be impacted if we could not achieve success. I’m still alive today, and we are both extremely delighted with the success of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. 

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received and given? 

CC: When I was in eighth grade at a new school in a new city, and very lonely still without friends, I was ready to give up! My father sat me down and told me to “keep my chin up” and to never give up. I’ve followed his advice from then on to this day. I continue to pass on that idea to those I know. Keep your chin up and never give up! 

TC: The advice that has stuck with me is quite simple: Success depends upon respect. It is important to learn to respectfully disagree. No one respects a bully. In turn, the advice I continue to share with those around me is to learn to get along with others. Success depends on it! 

Q: Tell us about someone or something that has inspired you greatly.  

TC: My greatest inspiration was my mother. Neither my mother nor my father were what is referred to as “educated.” In fact, I don’t recall either mentioning that they went to high school. My father died when my twin brother and I were 13, so my mother was left to rear two teenage boys on her own. That is a major job for anyone, let alone an uneducated, single mother with no job skills and no money. I can still visualize her spending sleepless nights practicing on a typewriter attempting to become employable. 

Q: Describe yourself in 10 words or less. 

CC: I’m a mother of seven wonderful children and a wife of 62 great years. 

TC: Husband, father, successful, hard working, ethical, honest, philanthropic, amiable, forgiving, happy. 

Q: The following descriptors represent the traits our staff and scholars possess — traits we believe lead to success. Which trait do you identify with, and why? Unlimited, unrelenting, undeniable, undeterred, unstoppable, unwavering, undefeated, unorthodox, unafraid, unbreakable, unparalleled and unhindered?

CC: Undeterred. I try to be a goal setter, and I’ll work to solve problems that come my way. 

TC: Undeterred. I am goal oriented, but I’m realistic enough to know that every path to achievement has some obstacles to overcome. 

Q: Why did you choose your profession? 

CC: All my adult life I’ve had an interest in helping people. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a B.S., and earning my title as a registered occupational therapist, I worked as a therapist for two years to help put my husband through dental school. We also started our family, so I balanced motherhood and a full-time occupational therapist job at the University of Iowa Hospital. 

My second professional job was raising my seven children, choosing not to return to the professional world of work until my youngest was in third grade. When I re-entered the workforce, I developed and taught bilingual Spanish/English classes entitled “The Woman of Today/La Mujer de Hoy” at barrio community centers for the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD). This led me to become a program coordinator for NOCCCD Continuing Education Program, which offered vocational training for economically disadvantaged and unemployed adults. I developed, taught and coordinated vocational education programs for the college district for 18 years. While working full-time and raising my family, I also earned a doctorate in education.

Following that, I was elected to the NOCCCD Board of Trustees where I served for six years. That led to a desire to campaign for the County of Orange Board of Supervisors seat for District 4. It was during my four-year term as elected County of Orange Supervisor that I, along with my husband, Dr. Thomas Coad, who was my full-time volunteer after retiring from his professional careers of doctor of dental surgery and certified financial planning, formed the collaborative of the County of Orange Supervisors, the City of Anaheim City Council, the Anaheim Union High School District and the Tiger Woods Learning Center. Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, even came to the key meeting of the County Supervisors and convinced all five of the supervisors to support the lease of the County-owned land for the learning center. Earl Woods was a great public speaker. The collaboration meetings happily led to the successful Tiger Woods Learning Center of today! 

TC: My profession as a doctor of dental surgery brought me a great deal of joy and personal satisfaction. I chose this profession because I enjoy helping people and my job allowed me the pleasure of not only working with my hands, but with my brain as well. With the responsibility to provide for retirement needs as a self-employed wage earner and also to provide for the college education of our seven children, it was prudent for me to study financial planning. This led to my matriculation in a two-year course at the University of Southern California and being awarded a Certified Financial Planner certificate. Hard work, education, a wonderful wife coupled with a strong sense of responsibility are paramount to my success. 

Learn more about the Tiger Woods Learning Center’s commitment to education. 

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.