Carol and Terry Winograd

Two careers and a shared passion for activism

Young couples aiming to manage two demanding careers and an engaging family and community life might look to Carol and Terry Winograd for inspiration.

Terry, a star in the field of artificial intelligence who left the industry in 1980 to create Stanford University's Human-Computer Interaction Group, has mentored scores of technology entrepreneurs, including some of Silicon Valley's most famous names.

Carol, a physician and professor of medicine and human biology at Stanford, directed the university's Geriatric Research and Education Center until she was sidelined by illness and retired on disability in 1995. She later returned and, for another 12 years, taught a sophomore seminar in "Woman and Aging," incorporating biology, psychology, sociology and even poetry.

Together the couple has raised two daughters and maintained a commitment to the progressive ideals and 1960s activism of their youth. The 10-year-old hybrid SUV parked in their driveway displays a riot of bumper stickers including one of their favorites: "Mensches in the Trenches."

This month, the Winograds are receiving the Avenidas Lifetime of Achievement Award for their efforts to eliminate poverty and promote peace. Carol has served on numerous boards including J Street, the Advisory Board of the Jewish Chaplaincy at Stanford Medical Center, Abraham's Vision, New Israel Fund and the Women Donors Network's Middle East Peace Circle. She is also a longtime member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she brought the Jewish and Muslim communities in Palo Alto and the south bay together as cofounder of JAMAA, Jewish and Muslim American Association.

Terry founded Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and the Liberation Technology Project. He is an active member of Bend the Arc, a Jewish social justice organization. Together, they participate in Sunday Friends, a nonprofit organization that empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty; Kol Emeth and Beth David synagogues; and the Palestinian Jewish Dialogue Group. They have also traveled to Kenya with Stanford students to help local people apply technology to solve problems of daily living.

When the couple first met in early 1968 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Terry was a graduate student at MIT, and Carol was working as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital and preparing to complete her pre-med coursework. (She'd been a French major in college.)

As Carol tells it, "Our first date was to the AI lab to visit the robots; our second date was to the lab at Mass General to clean out the bunny cages; and our third date was to the beach."

The next two dates kicked off the couple's long history of shared activism: They traveled to New Hampshire to work on the anti-Vietnam War Democratic presidential primary campaign of U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy.

Both had inherited a sense of liberal activism and civic engagement from their parents — Terry's in Greeley, Colorado, where his businessman father had served on the school board and Carol's in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where her mother, a "consummate volunteer," had established community mental health programs and a Reach to Recovery breast-cancer support program.

Terry has a childhood memory of going out with a wagon to campaign for Adlai Stevenson for president, "which, in Greeley, Colorado, was pretty 'out there,'" he said.

Carol recalls holding tin cans with her brother in front of a Howard Johnson's restaurant to collect donations for a cause she cannot remember.

"But I do remember my mother saying, 'It's the poor people who give more money than the rich people,'" she said.

Within months of their first date, Carol and Terry were living together and by the end of that same summer, they had married.

"We look back and say, 'What were we thinking?' How would you get involved so quickly and not take your time, but we just did it," Terry said.

Carol added, "We're lucky; we're very compatible."

The Winograds moved from the East Coast to San Francisco in the early 1970s for Carol's medical residency at the University of California, San Francisco.

"It was called 'family medicine' but the focus was on urban health care, health care for the poor," Carol said. "Even back then it was clear to me that much of health was very much affected by your socioeconomic status and the community and resources around you."

She was particularly drawn to what she calls "medicine in the streets" or "political medicine," having already worked in women's health clinics, Black Panther clinics and as a medic for anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.

Terry took what he thought was a one-year fill-in position at Stanford for an artificial intelligence scholar who'd gone on sabbatical. But the other professor never came back, and Terry assumed the post permanently.

In 1983 Carol took a job at Stanford and the couple moved with their 3-month-old to the Eichler on campus they still call home. Aspiring to share the chores of child rearing, Terry said, "Of course you can't do everything (equally) because she was nursing. But I did the diapers. ... It gave me a chance to physically connect with the baby. And after a few weeks, we had child care, so it wasn't just the two of us."

In those years of teaching, research and consulting at what was then Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Terry came to a conclusion that led him to switch his research and teaching focus: the belief that artificial intelligence would never properly capture the scope of human cognition and that the more compelling pursuit was the use of computers to enhance — not replace — human intelligence.

In the early years, Terry's program in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) was viewed as a "stepchild," Carol said, but others eventually came around. Besides the now 26-year-old HCI group, Terry's collaborations led to a new undergraduate major in "symbolic systems," combining engineering, humanities and social sciences, and he became a founding faculty member at Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the "d school."

Among the future entrepreneurs he advised were Google co-founder Larry Page and Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Carol's approach to geriatrics sprang from work early in her career at what was then called the Jewish Home for the Aged in Oakland.

"It was a visionary program because it believed in people's potential, as opposed to what they don't have," she said. "If disease knocks out 93 percent of your capacity, they focused on the 7 percent. It was really quite wonderful."

Nowadays, both Winograds, officially retired from their faculty jobs, continue to mentor some students but make a lot of time for the progressive causes they favor and, for their grandchildren. Having had some pre-IPO shares in Google has allowed them also to become philanthropists and political donors, though they say it hasn't changed their lifestyle much.

"We don't buy a lot of stuff — no new gadgets, no yacht, no furs, no jewels," Terry said.

Among their many current involvements, they have traveled with American Jewish World Service to Thailand, India and Nicaragua. But highlights of their schedule these days, they said, are the standing dates with each of their four grandchildren, either in Saratoga, San Francisco or at their Stanford home. Calling her husband a "baby magnet," Carol said, "They come here, and we just play."


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4 people like this
Posted by Jenifer Ohriner
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2017 at 3:40 pm

So pleased to see the well earned accolades for these two wonderful people!

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