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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Alumnus details efforts bringing ND spirit to Orange County

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series featuring Notre Dame alumni from around the world. Each alumnus was chosen from a list of nominees provided by his or her local Notre Dame Club. This installment will feature Ken Strottman (’71) from Orange County, California.

Ken Strottman may have graduated with the class of 1971, but he never left what it means to be a Domer behind.

After graduating 47 years ago with a degree in marketing, Strottman held a number of jobs in marketing which took him around the country. This included work in Chicago and St. Louis, helping to market products ranging from Crackerjacks to toilet bowl cleaners.

Photo courtesy of Ken Strottman
Ken Strottman, pictured holding football, stands with other Notre Dame alumni. Strottman helped distribute scholarships to students in Orange County while on the board of the ND club.

Then, in 1983 Strottman founded his own marketing, design and manufacturing company, Strottman International Inc., of which he is now the CEO.

Though he now lives in California where his company is based, Strottman remains involved with the Notre Dame community — particularly through his work with the Notre Dame Club of Orange County.

“I believe very strongly, you know, in the concept of the [regional] Notre Dame Clubs,” Strottman said. “I believe that Notre Dame is far, far away and I believe that the flag is planted with the clubs that are scattered in many cities in this country as well as many cities abroad.”

Strottman was once on the board of the Notre Dame Club of Orange County, during which time he did work organizing and distributing scholarships for Orange County residents intending to attend Notre Dame.

He said his focus in the club has shifted over time, however, and now much of his involvement is based on finding ways for the club to uphold Notre Dame’s mission and values in places the University does not directly reach.

“What I wanted to do is figure out if we could bring the spirit of Notre Dame to Orange County,” Strottman said. “The spirit we wanted to bring to Orange County was to do the good work that Notre Dame charges us to do in their mission.”

In keeping with that theme, Strottman said the Notre Dame Club of Orange County has been undertaking a number of efforts to bring the Notre Dame spirit to Orange County and spread the values the University tries to instill in its students.

“Everywhere, you read to make a difference in society, to make a difference ... with humanity,” Strottman said on the mission of the University and the efforts of the Orange County chapter.

Over the past years, Strottman said the club has underwritten some of the housing for students in Orange County with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), a program at Notre Dame focused on training teachers and giving them practical teaching experience.

The club also occasionally works with the Center for Social Concerns and is looking into expanding programs and opportunities for Notre Dame students in Orange County, Strottman said. Plans include summer internships or a “semester abroad” type of program that would allow students to take a semester of class in California.

Strottman emphasized he isn’t the only member of the Notre Dame Club of Orange County, however, and gave his fellow members credit for much of what the club is doing today.

“Its a team effort, were all doing it, the whole club,” he said. “All this is done in the context of the club.”

Though he is kept busy through his job as CEO for Strottman International Inc., his involvement in the Notre Dame Club of Orange County and his grandchildren, Strottman still finds time for the occasional Notre Dame football game: for example, he said he visited San Diego on Oct. 27 to see the Irish play Navy.

Despite his commitment to helping the Notre Dame community, Strottman said he doesn't get out to South Bend much these days.

But, regardless of his distance from the University, Strottman highlighted his mission to create and contribute to an environment in Orange County that mirrors the values and mission of Notre Dame, ensuring that, though he may have long since graduated, his time with the University will never truly end.

“The idea is we are supporting the outreach program that Notre Dame has, but we’re underwriting bringing it here to Orange County, where we live, work and pray,” Strottman said.