Ambitious Beginnings

At the age of 23, Stephanie Shirley had just wrapped up a whirlwind experience working fulltime on Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial campaign, her first career experience fresh out of college. Her next step was into a job with the Governor’s administration, working in legislative affairs in the Department of Health. On the surface, she appeared to be well set for a career in Pennsylvania politics. But there was a growing conflict within Stephanie’s heart. The consulting work she had been steadily growing since her senior year at Penn State University was gaining momentum and she found herself far more fulfilled by her Public Relations consulting projects than she was by government work. So she made a choice that was bound to be either the best or worst decision for her career. In July 2011, Stephanie took the entrepreneurial leap and quit her stable career to follow her dream of starting her own Public Relations consulting business.

Professional Accomplishments

Now a decade later, Bennis Public Relations (which is Stephanie’s maiden name and also the name of her youngest son) has grown year over year, affording her the career, lifestyle, and flexibility she set out to obtain.  Stephanie has worked with hundreds of clients across the nation serving as their strategic partner who creates innovative and effective communication solutions to help grow a powerful and consistent brand.

Her unique set of skills can be endlessly molded to just about every industry you can imagine. For her longest standing client, a global nonprofit, Stephanie serves as the Director of Advancement Services. In this role, Stephanie built out their peer-to-peer fundraising platform and led the vision for their first virtual fundraising event which raised $74,000 for cancer research in June 2020 –amidst a pandemic.

Additionally, Stephanie is responsible for collecting submissions and awarding the nonprofit’s $1.3 million dollar cancer research grants where she interfaces with researchers and oncologist from around the world to further the organization’s mission.

In addition to her nonprofit experience, Stephanie has helped businesses of all sizes and industries navigate the challenging internal and external communications of branding, re-branding, turning in-person events into virtual ones, and developing comprehensive strategic communications strategies. Stephanie is also frequently called upon to share her expertise on crisis communication through training sessions and workshops.

Most notably, Stephanie has forged “power-partnerships” with other firms who wish to offer her skills and expertise to their clients. She is the strategic communications arm of Milliron Goodman Government Relations, and she is the Public Relations arm of Mid-Atlantic Media Hub (advertising agency). She frequently joins forces with Perry Media Group to win public and private contracts worth millions of dollars.

Leadership

From the day she took the entrepreneurial leap until now, Stephanie has been the sole driver behind the success of Bennis Public Relations. She is a decisive and confident leader who is truly self-made. Not only has she had to break through multiple glass ceilings, proving age and gender to be no limitation to her talents, she has successfully grown her business while raising her two sons as both a working and at-home mom, simultaneously.

Additionally, Stephanie has demonstrated leadership in her ability to manage multiple client accounts, meeting their diverse needs and quickly troubleshooting issues as soon as they arise.

Vision

Stephanie has built a business model that disrupts the common, and all too often ineffective, relationship between public relations firms and businesses. Though she believes the value of quality public relations is invaluable to a business, Stephanie has built Bennis Inc on the foundation of fair and flexible pricing. She works intimately with each and every client, delivering customized solutions while eliminating the rigid policies and large overhead often associated with hiring a PR firm. Stephanie is passionate about helping businesses experience the benefit of high-quality, consistent communication, no matter their size or industry. Her vision is to give businesses the tools and confidence they need to take the wheel and be an active participant in implementing their own PR strategy – because the greatest results come from businesses who are fully engaged.

Community Service & Personal Life

As is true to Stephanie’s philosophy on business and life, she prefers to dedicate her time and resources to doing a few things exceptionally well. This carries over into her community involvement and charitable giving. Stephanie has played a key role in planning the annual Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala for the 8 years it took place in Harrisburg. The gala supported the charitable organization Uplifting Athletes, originally founded at Penn State, and its mission to raise awareness for the rare disease community. Stephanie volunteered her time to event coordination, securing sponsorships, building attendance and developing the evening’s agenda. Combined, the Gridiron Gala event alone has hosted more than 1,300 attendees and has raised more than a quarter-million dollars directly for its mission.

Stephanie is an active member of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society (PPRS) where she has served as the Special Events Co-Chair. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Central Penn Networking Group (CPNG).

Outside of her professional career, Stephanie holds one more title that she is proud to claim, and that is the title of “mom” to her two sons Holden (7 years) and Bennis (4 years). She works hard to maintain a work-life balance that allows her to be present at their many milestone moments, while leading by example that with hard work and dedication, every goal is within reach.

Shirley_02

59 thoughts on “Meet Stephanie Shirley

  1. Nice to “meet” you Stephanie! I noticed you when you commented on my blog and I checked out yours. I think it is GREAT that you took such a courageous leap and I wish you all the best in your new career. I think many of us wish we had the chutzpah to do what you’ve done! You’re an inspiration. I look forward to keeping up with you via this blog. 🙂

  2. Hi Stephanie!

    Thanks for commenting on my blog today–it brought me to yours, which I LOVE!! I lovelovelove that you took the leap to start your own business and are finding the courage every day to plow forward! I wish you all the best, and I will continue to read your blog. I’ve recently discovered that I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and I’m eager to see where it leads me in the next couple of years. Thanks for your posts!!

  3. Welcome! And thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I’m enjoying figuring life out to the beat of my own drum. It’s sure to be a memorable adventure to say the least.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Wonderful and thoughtful article especially with the cat’s cute napping picture. Right when I was browsing through your article, my pet cat was sitting on my lap. How the world is small ! Recently myself and my husband Vasanth were in Harrisburg to be with my bro-in-law Dr. Jayanth Devasundaram (people call him Jay) working in Govt. Health dept. in PA state, By the way I am an engineer, HR consultant and social activist in India. I visited US for an International conference in New Orleans. All the best. We shall catch up again…Regds…Nimmu

  4. Wanted to let you know that I think your blog is a great and enjoy reading your articles.
    I also wanted to invite you to ping and tweet your blog for free with my website BlogBuzzer.com

    Craig Thompson

  5. what a great blog, found it via freshly pressed and have found all sorts of interesting stuff to read! I’ve gone from working for someone else to being self employed with my own company in the last six months so its been especially useful to read your thoughts and advice on keeping a routine!

  6. Very inspiring, especially for someone close to my age bracket. Taking a leap of faith to continue towards ambitions in life requires dedication and tough skin, especially as a recent graduate like myself. Your paving the way for young professionals! Thank you!

  7. Hello from another Penn Stater, nice Blog and seems your independence might be working out for you. I am just starting my blog so very interesting in the comments post here.

    Again Good Luck.

  8. Hey Stephanie! Thanks for posting on my blog, I love the ideas I’ve seen on your site so far and will definitely be following you. I’m majoring in media and journalism in school, so I love to see other grads making it in the real world! Great work and best of luck!

  9. Your courage is inspirational! 🙂 as well as your blog! I liked everything I read so far and will continue to do so. Keep up the good work!

  10. hullo Stephanie! thanks for commenting on my blog the other day. As someone fresh out of college, I am trying to figure out how life really works and going through your posts have been definitely enlightening. Wish you luck for all your future endeavors.

  11. Wonderful blog. I know a lot of people will enjoy seeing where you’ve come from and why you do what you do. I’ve linked you on my blog. Thanks again for your comment.

  12. Thanks for visiting my blog and hitting the like button. You have a very polished and professional style. There’s no doubt your success will grow. After reading your blog about skydiving, I thought it was really your second jump; the first was starting your own business. You’re very good at landing on your feet. : )

    1. What a creative way to look at my “daring jumps”–I hadn’t thought of it like that. Now you have me thinking which one I would consider more reckless and scary. I think they each have their own challenges and rewards in the end….I suppose I just need to keep an eye on landing safely!

  13. Stephanie,

    I am wondering if you know anything about R.O.W.E (results only work environment)? If you know where I could get more information, I would appreciate it! I have already contacted Culture Rx. Please let me know if you have any other sources or suggestions! I would really appreciate it!

    -KEB

    1. You’ve actually just opened my eyes to ROWE. It’s almost exactly what I created for myself by opening my own business—just without knowing it! It’s definitely something I’ll look into if and when I’m ready to start hiring help for Bennis Inc.

      I checked out their web site: gorowe.com which seems to provide some good information. I think reaching out to them directly is the best method. Good luck!

  14. Thanks for visiting my blog and hitting the like button. You come across very professional and with impeccable style. It’s wonderful to see young women your age with such an inspiring entrepreneurial spirit. Keep it up and and let’s continue supporting each other. All the best!

  15. Hola Stephanie,

    Thank you for stopping by at Featured Scribbles. Your blog is very interesting. I just subscribed and will have a lot of reading to do 🙂 God bless in all of your goals in life! 🙂

  16. Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog,
    I’m new in blogging, I’ll need your support as expert in wordpress and blog feature sometime.

    Maybe I’ll be + – away from your subjects but, the management things are our sharing interest.

    Regards

  17. Hi Stephanie! Thank you for liking and leaving a comment on my post “12 Habits of a World Changer.”

    You have a pretty interesting blog here and nice layout too. Keep it up! 🙂

  18. Fantastic! Fabulous! Fun! and lots of Fanfare!
    Your Blog is Awesome, as are YOU, Stephanie! … Bravo!

  19. Hi Stephanie, thanks for stopping by The Order Expert Blog and for your comment and like on my post “Top 10 List: Ten Productivity Truths.” It looks like we have a lot in common…public relations, blogging…looking forward to reading more of your work. Just subscribed! Regards, Rashelle

  20. Great blog Stephanie. Thanks for swinging by my newest blog earlier thus leading me to find yours.
    Hope you do not mind if I share yours. I speak quite a bit to graduating college grads about being entrepreneurial instead of working for others and your site and story tell this well.

    1. Hi Joseph – I would be honored for you to share my blog and my own experience with entrepreneurship with your college entrepreneurs, especially if it can help them to find their courage and reduce their hesitation about getting out there and doing something great! Thanks for the comment.

  21. Hi Stephanie, thank you for visit my blog, I took a look at yours and I am very impressed, keep up the great work!

  22. Hi Stephanie!

    Thanks for “liking” my blog post today! Thought I would check your blog out. It’s very nice! I really admire your spunk. I have a deep respect for anyone who chooses to take the entrepreneurial route as opposed to working for someone else. Keep up the good work!

  23. Hi Stephanie, glad you liked my post!
    I’ve had a look through your blog and you’re a real pro. And I love your website too. you’ve got a fantastic woman enterpreneur activity going on. Great initiative. Your work looks fresh, fun and full of energy. Well done!

  24. Thanks for posting on my blog. I must say of vibrancy, and brilliance I found at your site. Congratulations! I’m loving this. Great insights, and words of wisdom. I can’t wait to invite my friends to your blog. You are a great inspiration.

    1. Believe it or not, I don’t have my own personal Twitter handle! Because of maintaining so many social media accounts for my clients, I get my fill of Twitter here. Maybe some day I’ll give in, but as you can see by some of my lengthy blogs, keeping it to 140 characters or less will be challenging for me 😉

  25. Carry on with your ventures in public relations. Lots of information are available through your blog posts and Facebook page.

  26. Hi. I love your blog. It’s very professional and gives some great advice as I venture into the political domain advocating for education. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I am glad that you enjoy my blog and find it useful. My background is also in politics and I personally see a lot of overlap with PR. It’s all about serving our “publics” and communicating our core message.

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