Concentrating on information design, content management and demand publishing throughout her career, Carolyn Ray Strong entered her profession because she was fascinated by information and how to best communicate and deliver it. Her parents were missionaries in Ethiopia from when she was six months old until after she was in college. Upon arrival in the United States, her aunt Dixy Lee Ray provided a home base and was a key mentor. Notably, her aunt became the chair of the Atomic Energy Commission and the first female governor of the State of Washington. Ms. Strong is known as a “third-culture kid,” and it provided her with the benefit of being comfortable with different cultures and languages. For jobs, this background helped her understand a lot about tailoring advertisements and documents to other cultures, and creating effective marketing materials and manuals for translation and use in countries around the world.
Ms. Strong began her professional career as a mathematics and aerospace demonstrator for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle in the summers of 1970 and 1971. Upon graduating from college, she became a technical writer and then a documentation manager at Tektronix, Inc., in Beaverton, Oregon, from 1973 to 1975. She continued to serve the company for 24 more years in various other roles, including manager of multiple documentation and training groups and director of worldwide customer communications for the Test and Measurement Division. She enjoyed working with engineers and was often the only woman in technical meetings. Ms. Strong was promoted to be the company’s internet strategist in early 1999.
Following a company split and merger, Ms. Strong became the owner and consultant of her own company, Strong Strategic Consulting, from 2000 to 2010, providing strategies to companies that wanted to manage content better. She served as an autism integration and program assistant for the Beaverton School District from 2005 to 2015. When her niece was first diagnosed with autism, she researched everything she could find on communicating with non-verbal children with autism. Ms. Strong watched her sister implement a photographic approach that helped her daughter to understand sequences of events and make choices. She became fascinated with the field and how emerging technology could make the process even easier. When the school district needed help for special needs children with autism, she was able to assist with the use of iPads and computers in the classroom so that these children could communicate better.
Prior to the start of her career, Ms. Strong pursued a formal education at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, earning a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and journalism in 1973. She then matriculated at DeVry Institute of Technology, now known as simply DeVry University, where she completed postgraduate coursework, including building an oscilloscope and learning digital electronics between 1975 and 1977. While working fulltime, Ms. Strong went on to attain a Master of Science in applied information management from the University of Oregon in 1992. She then taught as an adjunct professor in this master’s program until 2008, teaching students about information design, XML, content repurposing and emerging mobile communications. Her students were skeptical of information on demand on mobile devices, but she was able to help them move past that.
Active in her local community, Ms. Strong volunteered as a board member in 1984 and became chairman of the board for the First Tech Federal Credit Union from 1985 to 2012. She then served as secretary after the merger until retiring in 2015. Her key contributions were in the areas of emerging technology deployment and customer relations. She was recognized as an emeritus board member from 2015 to 2017. Additionally, since 2014, she has volunteered with Serenity Hospice & Palliative Care, where she assists in the bereavement program. Moving forward, Ms. Strong sees herself continuing to be involved in the community, perhaps in the area of emergency preparedness. She is in the early process of writing a book or two, interested in writing to influence girls who are just at the age of making decisions about whether they like mathematics or science and to describe her childhood in boarding schools in Ethiopia.
Outside of her primary field, Ms. Strong maintained involvement with numerous trade organizations related to her field. She served the Willamette Valley chapter of the Society for Technical Communications as secretary in 1978, treasurer in 1979 and president from until 1981. Furthermore, Ms. Strong served as a senior member of the nationwide Society for Technical Communications, and was active with the Association for Computer Machinery and the Special Interest Group on the Design of Communication.
In light of her exceptional undertakings, Ms. Strong was named as the Print on Demand Innovator and Keynote Speaker in 1996. Moreover, she was selected for inclusion in the 25th edition of Who’s Who in the West. Today, Ms. Strong resides in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys spending her free time collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia, rose gardening, playing with her dogs, building Legos, researching recent trends in technology, learning Japanese and Spanish, and reading.