Michael John Coda, 48, vice president and director of external affairs for the Nature Conservancy, died of brain cancer Oct. 8 at Capital Hospice in Arlington. He was a resident of Alexandria.
Mr. Coda led a number of fundraising and conservation endeavors during his 14 years with the international organization. Annual donations rose from $90 million to more than $200 million under his oversight, and the group's "Last Great Places" capital campaign, which he planned and executed, raised $315 million for conservation projects around the globe. Membership increased from 500,000 to 1.2 million.
In 1998, Mr. Coda created the conservancy's Climate Change Program and helped negotiate several of the world's largest carbon sequestration projects, raising more than $35 million to protect and restore more than 1.7 million acres of tropical forest habitat for biodiversity through projects in Brazil, Bolivia and Belize.
He also developed a program through which the nonprofit conservancy has rented its name and logo for use on ties, breakfast cereal, coffee and credit cards, reaping six-figure fees.
Mr. Coda was born in New York City and raised in Princeton, N.J. He received a bachelor's degree from Denison University and a master's degree in foreign service from Georgetown University. He moved to Washington in 1979 and from 1979 to 1981 was assistant press secretary for Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.).
He then worked as a research assistant with Resources for the Future, a nonprofit organization that specializes in work on natural resource economics. While there, he co-wrote a book, "Energy Today and Tomorrow: Living With Uncertainty."
From 1984 to 1990, Mr. Coda was a senior associate with McKinsey & Co. and a member of the firm's energy practice.
He joined the conservancy in 1991 as director of marketing. Ten years later, he became vice president and director of external affairs, responsible for the conservancy's partnerships with governmental entities, multilateral and bilateral institutions, and nongovernmental organizations.
The conservancy has established an annual award in his name in acknowledgment of his contributions to the organization and to conservation.
During the last years of his life, Mr. Coda was determined to help raise money and awareness for a cure for brain cancer. His cancer was diagnosed in July 2000, but he twice fought off the illness, rebounding from surgeries in 2000 and 2002. When the cancer returned this year, it was inoperable and other treatments failed. Despite the odds against him, Mr. Coda remained optimistic.
He was a competitive runner in college and beyond, a sport that has been taken up by his high school-age daughter. He was a sports fan and enjoyed his children's athletic activities. Mr. Coda also wrote the Rosemont neighborhood column for the Alexandria Gazette Packet newspaper.
"No matter what happens in the future, I consider the tumor a blessing," a colleague from the conservancy recalled him saying a few months before his death. "It has taught me life lessons I would have never learned otherwise. And it has had some side benefits I hadn't expected. I must be one of the few people living in the Washington, D.C., area who never gives a thought to the dangers posed by terrorism. I rarely need a haircut, and when I forget something, I have a darn good excuse."
His marriage to Jane Beard ended in divorce.
He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Karen Perkins Coda, and their two children, Emily and Matthew Coda, all of Alexandria; his parents, Edward T. and Jane Delaney Coda of Princeton; and a sister.