Stafford is vice president of Ovation PR & Advertising. To get to her position, she took a route through the economic hills and valleys of the modern day job market. Her career began in data entry in the Silicon Valley, where she climbed the ranks until she was a senior manager. In 2001, while pregnant with her fourth child, she and her husband decided to move to Elk Grove in search of a lower cost of living and better access to good public schools. Visibly pregnant and encountering the effects of the dot-com bust, however, she struggled to find a job. “I basically had to make a job for myself,” she says. “I never really wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I was overqualified for what was available.” She founded Exceptional Events, a public relations and event management firm, and found herself “empowered as a small business leader.”
She flourished so much as a business owner that she was elected president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, chairman of the Sacramento Small Business Board and communications chair of the California Small Business Board, among other roles.