A lighthouse in the COVID sea: Tess Coody-Anders


Amani Canada

Tess Coody-Anders, vice president of Strategic Communications and Marketing, brought her background in public relations and healthcare administration to Trinity, an unexpected benefit during the pandemic.

You open your inbox and there it is: the weekly COVID update that Tess Coody-Anders writes, giving the numbers, the precautions, the updates.

In the turbulent world of the past year and a half, everyone has become accustomed to everything changing within a matter of days. From March 2020 to December 2021, colleges especially have found themselves forced to adapt in every situation. One of the leading forces on Trinity’s campus is the vice president for Strategic Communications and Marketing, Tess Coody-Anders.

Coody-Anders is no stranger to change. She graduated from Trinity in 1993, majoring in communication. One of her favorite experiences from her time in college was working at the Trinitonian and the Mirage. Here, she was able to get involved on campus by meeting new people and covering current events. When she graduated, she fully expected to carry her love of journalism into her career. However, as time went on, she found herself in many different career fields, from writing to entrepreneurship to health care.

Out of college, Tess Coody-Anders started out as a print and radio journalist for a few years. From there, she started a public relations firm with two other Trinity alums. At this firm, she realized that she had a passion for healthcare. Through connections with clients, she was able to become the CEO of a healthcare delivery system. In all of these professions, Coody-Anders centered the clients and patients, trying to create more comfortable and equitable work environments.

Finally, in 2017, she returned to her roots at Trinity University. Replacing Charles White, she became the vice president for Strategic Communications and Marketing. This role covers a variety of University necessities: supporting various departments, dealing with emergencies and communicating with people involved in the university at every level.

“I felt like it was an opportunity to come and give back to an institution that meant a lot to me,” Coody-Anders said, responding to her changing career paths.

Soon after, however, the world was plunged into a world of Zoom calls, masks and social distancing.

“It’s existential,” Coody-Anders said. “We were entering a challenge that was existential, that was life-or-death to people I care about, not only at work but at home. For me, there’s been no respite from COVID; it’s my social circle, it’s my work life, it potentially impacts my home life.”

Through this anxiety-inducing time, Coody-Anders persisted. Along with much of Trinity’s other faculty and staff, she led the campus into the virtual spring 2020. This was a complicated and multifaceted process. In her newly-appointed role, she helped create Trinity’s Nerve Center, a group of Trinity faculty and staff working together to support health and safety with a focus on student life and learning.

“Now I look back and think, maybe the universe was leading me here, to be prepared to help in a time when I had a particular set of skills that would benefit the university,” Coody-Anders said.

As the way we interact with the pandemic is ever-changing, so is Coody-Anders’s role in Trinity’s health team. During the fall 2021 semester, she and Vice President for Enrollment Management Eric Maloof led the Nerve Center. As the campus opens up more and more, their primary focus is keeping the university safe and informed.

Throughout all this change, Tess Coody-Anders has remained unwaveringly dedicated to Trinity.

“This entire community was willing to set aside titles, roles, responsibilities and just to be whomever and whatever the community needed them to be in order for us to persevere. That sort of humility and generosity has been very affirming and that’s been my inspiration. While I think we’re all exhausted, I hope we’re coming away feeling proud of … our community. Even when we disagreed, sometimes vehemently, about how to go forward, we made it through together without falling apart. That’s special in this world today and that’s uniquely Trinity.”

In a time of incredible change, unwavering forces like Coody-Anders are what keep Trinity University afloat.


Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Coody-Anders began working at Trinity at 2020 when this should have been 2017. She also replaced Charles White, not Coleen Grissom.