ALA Conference Recap: Penny Stauffer

We found our snow bunny!

While Karen Wilhelmi was looking forward to a bit of snow at her first-time conference experience and Cindy Snook was absolutely not (but shared a few tips anyway), Ken Sockolov was decidedly neutral on the matter (but enjoyed the session on ethics and some good food and wine).

Enter the snow bunny: Penny was actually excited about the snowy, cold weather in Denver!

Penny shares her conference experience with us:

Joelle, Tammie, Penny (l-r)

I found the conference to be the same in some ways and different in others, but overall good. Some of the sessions that dealt with “Leadership Improvement” were much like the usual thing, so I tried to steer more toward some new material (or at least new to me).

I went to two sessions by the same speaker that dealt with handling difficult employees that offered reminders of the do’s and don’ts of what we should and should not do from an HR perspective and the second session dealt with ADA and ADAAA (ADA Act Amendments) training which was really good and she was a fantastic speaker!

Another session that I found different and interesting was “How to Tell Someone is Lying.” This was fascinating as the speaker works with law enforcement and FBI for a living. She used video clips of interviews to show us ways to detect “deceitfulness; someone who may be withholding information; and flat out not telling the truth.” It was very interesting and interactive…I wish it had been a longer session.

Tammie, Joelle, Penny (l-r)

Of course, I always attend a leadership session even if it’s not particularly updated and the one I attended was at least interactive and the speaker was inviting.  The last session of the last day was probably my favorite. The subject matter wasn’t anything new, but the speaker and the material were very good. This session was how to be engaging and effective during presentations. He gave fantastic tips on winning over distracted audiences and making your power point presentation interesting. So good! And, I must say when a speaker can captivate you in the last session on the last day of a conference…he’s pretty darn good!

Photo by Joelle Stone

I notice a new theme emerging at this conference. There was a lot about diversity with a noticeable emphasis on Transgender issues and inclusion. There were sessions on the subject and a larger general session with a Transgender speaker. The general session was very good and I think eye-opening for everyone. Regardless of independent opinions on this issue, at some point we all will need to become educated on this level of integration.

I personally loved the weather!!

Many thanks to Penny for sharing her enthusiasm for the snow (which, by the way, I completely share!) and her ALA Annual Conference and Expo experience!

While I don’t think there will be snow at the conference next year (is there snow in Maryland in May?) the event should be another good one. Information about future conferences can be found here.

Also, if you want to “attend” the Annual Conference this year, you can do so by signing up for the Virtual Conference Sessions and enjoy a session or two while basking in our summer sun!  



Board Member Spotlight

Board Member Spotlight: Penny Stauffer

I have had the pleasure of serving on the SVALA Board of Directors with Penny Stauffer many times. We have been to a variety of SVALA events and luncheons together but the most memorable moments with Penny are when we find ourselves sitting next to each other at a SVALA dinner and can talk one-on-one about family. Of course we discuss work as well but when Penny talks about her daughter, Kourtney or the love of her life, Charlie, she lights up!

Penny is a smart, well-educated and busy legal administrator who successfully manages the four California offices of her firm. How do I know she is a successful legal administrator? Because, as you will see from the interview, when Penny puts her mind to do something she does it with gusto and tenacity!

If I had to guess, though, her heart is with her family (which also now includes a gorgeous yellow lab!) and that love shines through in this interview.

Penny and Kourtney enjoying a Giants game
Penny and Kourtney enjoying a Giants game

Join me in learning a little bit more about Penny.

Penny Stauffer, MBA
Office Administrator
Stoel Rives LLP
SVALA Board Position: Past President

Tell us about your professional life. I am the Office Administrator for Stoel Rives LLP in Sacramento and manage all four California offices (Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego and a small office in Truckee). In order to tell you how I came to be at Stoel, allow me to take you on a quick ride through the past.

In early 1985, I became a medical assistant and began working in private practice for two doctors in Nevada City, CA. A year later, to supplement my income, I started working part-time in the evening with a disabled man, Charlie, who required 24 hour care. After a few months, I was asked by the family to come on full-time to care for Charlie. Since Charlie and I were quite smitten with each other, I said yes immediately and quit my other job. Charlie and I began a wonderful life together and I never looked back.

Penny with Charlie and Kourtney
Penny with Charlie and Kourtney

After several years I went back to school and earned my AA in early childhood education which set me up for my next adventure…Charlie and I having a baby and opening a preschool in our home! Oh boy, are we having fun yet?! The preschool was wonderful and served a good purpose for a while, but ultimately became very draining. Well, back to school for Penny.

In 2002, I earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies and began working for The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Associate in Sacramento. That was a terrible commute from Nevada City, so we moved to Elk Grove. Once I began living in the Sacramento area, I went back to school at night and earned my BA in Business Management. In November of 2005, I was given the opportunity to bring my paralegal experience to Stoel Rives. Of course, once a paralegal lands at a great firm like Stoel, what could possible come next…yep, I went back to school again and earned my MBA.

In March of 2008 I was promoted to Administrator for Stoel California. I have enjoyed all of my jobs over the years, but the position I hold right now is so very rewarding. It is tough sometimes, but I have been provided so many enriching experiences that I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Penny and Kourtney
Penny and Kourtney

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I will say it straight…I was strong-armed on to the board by Shauna Manner. 🙂 We attended a conference together when I was a baby administrator and she knew how to strike when the kettle was hot (when the newbie doesn’t really know what she is getting into). LOL! While I was a little intimidated by serving on the board at first, it has become a rewarding experience and I value the time that I work in this arena. I have served as membership chair, president, past president and will be the next community connection chair for 2017-18.

Tell us something about your personal life/passion. As for my passions in life I would have to say my daughter, Kourtney, is my biggest passion. She is a delightful and intelligent young lady that I truly enjoy being around. She is 19 going on 30, but that doesn’t even bother me because she just such a great person. Sadly, Charlie passed away in May 2009 leaving Kourtney and I to take care of each other. While Charlie is sorely missed, Kourtney carries so much of him in her (including the inherent Stauffer Sarcasm), that I often feel like he is still with us in a special way. We love the SF Giants; enjoy road trips to anywhere and of course thoroughly enjoy our beloved yellow lab Bailee Mae. I also enjoy hiking, scrapbooking and memorializing all of our memories for the next generation.

Bailee Mae
Bailee Mae

Kourtney is in college now and I can’t wait to see where her education takes her. Mine certainly took me down many avenues, but each one brought me to where I am today.

Many thanks to Penny for sharing her story and for choosing to serve on the SVALA Board of Directors. The Board has benefited from Penny’s involvement so we are happy she succumbed to the strong-arming by Shauna! 🙂

 Also, in case you missed it, please check out the most recent Business Partner Article from Gallaway Commercial, Inc.! Russel Gallaway shares important tips on renewing a lease or relocating.