Trendsetter to Know: Karen Stafford

Name: Karen Stafford, MHRM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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Title: Arizona President, Employers Council. Professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Age: 52. My birthday was just the other day so I’m not quite used to this number yet, especially because my niece just asked if I was 36, which is much closer to how I really feel!

Married/Single: Married, to my husband Grey, since 1990. It is so hard to believe it will be 30 years in May. We have had so much fun together over the years. Time has literally flown by!

Kids: Two goofy, fun, and lovable pups, Fiona and Zoe.  

City you live in: Scottsdale

A typical day in my life includes…

I like to start the day with some quiet reflection, daily readings, and a quick 10-minute meditation. Then is it off to the races meeting with members, prospective members, business groups, or team members, and sometimes all of the above at the same time. The typical day is packed with great conversations, strategizing how best to help others with their workplace matters, and ends with a quick workout. One night a week, I get to teach at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and absolutely love preparing college juniors and seniors for the world of work through our Principles of Human Resources Management class.

I was born

in Euclid, Ohio, just east of Cleveland. What a great place to be from, although I do prefer the weather here!

My favorite thing about Arizona

being from the snowy Midwest, I absolutely love the weather, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and of course, the people I’ve met over our 20+ years in the Valley.

I’m listening to…

a few great podcasts! My latest favorites include “Your Brain at Work” (by NLI), “TED Talks Daily” and of course, my husband’s podcast, “Zoo Logic Podcast”. I am also a dedicated listener to a few political podcasts as well, appreciating key insights mixed with humor.

My family…

is extremely important to me. They are why I do what I do, and also how I’m able to do it!

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be…

my dad. We lost him when I was way too young and I still miss him. He was a photographer and he would absolutely love the way we see the world through our own pictures, selfies, and videos.

One thing I cannot live without…

aside from my family, pizza!

When I was younger, I wanted to be…

a teacher or in a business of some sort. I was that weird little kid who had a business card collection, of all things. How fun that I now get to do both of these things all of these years later!

I’m inspired by…

stories of resilience, faith, and kindness.

The one person who motivates me is…

I actually have two: my mom and mother-in-law! Both women have overcome incredible circumstances and taught me and those around them that perseverance, faith, and love does indeed win in the end.

If I could change anything in the world, it would be…

that we would all see others with mercy, first.

The perfect day would be…

not too different from what I get to do on a daily basis, but with a bit more time to hang out with family, read and ponder possibilities, with perhaps a bit of yoga mixed in. And pizza!

My first job was…

cutting grass in the neighborhood, followed by getting into the business world and never looking back!

My favorite escape…

our “fortress of solitude” (our home) or spa days at the Camelback Inn.

My life…

is my chance to make a difference. I hope to live up to just that!

I’m currently working on…

establishing the right balance between family, work, and wellness. Some days I get closer to this than others, so I am definitely a work in progress!

Always…

be considerate of others at worst, and loving at best.

Never…

demean or belittle anyone, ever!

Favorite Quote…

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” – Emerson

Biggest Dream…

I would wipe out hunger. I know how I get when I am hungry because I miss a meal and I don’t want anyone to go without and beyond this. If I could create an experience where everyone feels welcome, supported, and valued, only good things will come next.

My Pet Peeve(s)…

rudeness and lack of consideration for others.



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