Dr. Coady Gorham devoted her life to doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people and serving those who needed it the most. She was both a physician and an activist, and believed, as she wrote in her memoir, that, “[i]f you’re a doctor, you’re every kind of doctor.”
Dr. Coady Gorham completed medical school at Columbia University and though she trained as a pediatrician, her experiences abroad led to a commitment in public health and international health. She spent decades linking hands-on medical care with public health and being a first responder to humanitarian crises in Biafra, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Central America. Dr. Coady Gorham served as Medical Director for the Peace Corps, and while in India, she worked with Mother Teresa, who invited her to become her medical director — and a nun. Dr. Coady Gorham considered both options, but decided her long-term future lay elsewhere.
By the mid-90s, Dr. Coady Gorham was working as an Emergency Room pediatrician at Oakland’s Children’s Hospital. She treated many abused children and observed that she never saw a physically abused child where alcohol or drugs were not involved. This realization led her to begin her transition to working in the addiction profession. Dr. Coady Gorham worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for the Berkeley Mental Health Department and in 1997, she founded Options Recovery Services (Options). Options began as a diversion treatment program for the Berkeley Court, but grew to offer a variety of evidence-based treatment, including sober living opportunities, that has helped more than 10,000 people get sober. Options expanded its work to the California prison system in 2006, preparing several hundred inmates over the years to become state-certified addiction treatment counselors through the Offender Mentor Program.
Dr. Coady Gorham passed away peacefully on May 3, 2018, about three weeks after her 80th birthday, in Alamo, CA, in the company of her loved ones, including her husband, Tom Gorham.
Dr. Coady Gorham will be remembered as a force for good and for her vision of reaching out to the poor and imprisoned in finding the path to life-affirming sobriety and service, and NAADAC is honored to recognize her service.