September 19, 2016

What TWF’s 20th anniversary celebration means to me: Kathy’s journey

This summer marked my 12-year anniversary with the Tiger Woods Foundation, and as I reflect on how we’ve grown and where we’re going, I am not only flooded with so many good memories, but I’m brimming with excitement about our future. As I think about the impact of our 20-year history, I am drawn to a few key moments that have not only shaped my experience but made countless lives richer.

From the start of my journey with TWF, the focus was in providing youth with an authentic learning experience where they actively apply what they are doing in school to a future career. Curriculum in aerospace engineering, robotics, forensic science, video game design and many more STEM subjects have provided positive challenges that our students were unaccustomed to facing. Rather than having staff deliver content, self-discovery is encouraged and problem-solving is commonplace. Failure is met with optimism, perseverance and grit. 

Students have the chance to explore careers where they have interest, and in some cases develop a passion that carries them towards a future they never expected. As a result, the application to college becomes less about simply filling out a questionnaire or writing an essay, and more about determining the right fit whereby the individual can successfully achieve their goals.

The entire TWF team is deeply committed to providing a safe learning environment where youth have the best opportunity to achieve their goals. We all work to ensure that our students are free to express themselves and work alongside them to find solutions to the difficult challenges of our time. Relationships with students and the families and adults who surround them are developed and nurtured so that each student has the best possible outcome for their future. We have a special group of staff members across our organization whose objective is to make sure we focus on the student in all decisions we make.

As we celebrate this important milestone, what about the future? 

One thing I have learned from my time here is that while measuring impact is paramount, sharing promising methods and practice allows us to reach far more people than we can on our own. Well over 150,000 students, their families and hundreds of teachers around the country have benefitted from our curriculum, conferences, training sessions and scholarships. But it just isn’t enough. While the needs around the U.S. are staggering, there are opportunities globally for TWF to provide structure and be more than a thought leader on the subject of education. 

When I joined the foundation in 2004, I was given a blank slate to create a program plan that would provide youth with a chance to discover their talents and possibilities for the future. I wonder how different our journey would have been if we had simply joined the trendy education reform movement at the time — which is still trying to find its compass. Today, I celebrate the efforts of the past 20 years and look forward with anticipation to the future. We plan to double down on our own impact work and seek partners who are willing to do the same. We look forward to sharing what we are doing with educators globally, invite them to join us and commit to inspiring a future generation of learners. 

Join us for a Celebration of Unexpected Champions.