Shirley Coates is a passionate leader and community educator who is dedicated to empowering the lives of underserved women and girls through education and training for leadership in their respective field of choice. She is the president and founder of the Riverside, CA based, Society of Extraordinary Women Inc (SOEW) whose mission is to "empower women and girls to discover their extraordinary selves through education and mentoring for a lifetime". SOEW provides opportunities to learn and engage in leadership development and technology through its community learning programming.
With a goal to make a meaningful impact on local underserved youth, and a desire to help close the achievement gap and gender gap for girls., Ms. Coates, started the Ignite Leadership and STEM Academy Program, a Saturday school program for middle school and high school girls of color with a focus on leadership development, and GIS technology. The Program began in 2015 and has impacted the lives of hundreds of girls in Riverside and surrounding areas. The program has a 100% graduation rate.
Shirley's commitment to enhancing her community is evident in how she continues to apply her time, talent and resources. The Society of Extraordinary Women provides a quarterly conversation series for the community where renowned scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs and business leaders across cultures come to share innovative ideas that impact the community and the world. Some of the guest included, the young tech guru Iddris Sandu, world renown oceanographer, Dr. Dawn Wright, and US award winning engineer April Sanders. The event theme focusses on GIS Technology, Art, and cultural diversity. The goal of our Conversational Series is to expose people of color in our community to the benefits of collaboration, and new concepts in Leadership, the Arts, and Technology,
Through her organization's collaboration with organizations such as Esri, Mapping Black California, and Cal Baptist University Aviation College, Shirley has been pivotal in bridging educational opportunities to communities that are often underserved or ignored.
In the spring of 2020 Shirley and SOEW organized a community learning event that would host and welcome the Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit and Red Tails combat plane to Riverside California. This grand event would feature General Charles McGee, an historical figure as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Thousands of students from Riverside's local school districts would learn of the Airmen's inspiring story of strength and courage, and "Rise Above" attitude in the face of adversity. This was to become a history making event. Unfortunately, because of pandemic caused by Covid-19, the event had to be postponed.
As a community educator, Shirley has raised funds to secure laptops for needy students so that they can participate in newly developed on-line learning platforms. She also raises funds to send girls on educational leaning trips to such places such as Washington, D.C., and Dubai, giving girls a lifetime experience and inspiration.
Shirley has received national, state, and local awards for her work in the community. Shirley actively serves on the Riverside Community College Foundation Board of Directors, she serves on Cal Baptist Leadership Council, and lends her business expertise to graduate students in the Center for International Studies at Cal State University, San Bernardino School of Business, and a volunteer counselor at the Inland Empire Women's Business Center. She serves on the Riverside Chamber of Commerce Business Council, the African American Historical Society Board of Directors, and Vice President of the Sojourner Truth Fund, she also serves of the board of Rotary International East Side chapter as Education Committee Chair. She was recently received the Community Bridge Builder of the Year award presented by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and Women of Distinction Award presented by Assembly member Jose Medina.
Prior to pursuing a "second career" as an education advocate, Shirley Coates led a successful professional life as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. She is one of the first minority women in California to own and operate an aerospace supply company. She would later start and manage her Real Estate firm, Coates Real Estate in Riverside, CA. As a real estate consultant, she has traveled to parts of Europe to provide cultural and real estate business training for international real estate firms, helping them strategically plan their entry into the high-end residential and commercial markets in the United States.
Her core values are Passion, Purpose, and Professionalism.