Partnering to Leave a Legacy: Elaine Stafford & Shelby Clayson

Filed Under: Uncategorized,Vibrant Community,Women's Economic Opportunity - Posted @ 11:02am

At Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, we’ve seen how much more we can accomplish when we work together.  Since 1981, community members have shared their commitment to a thriving Pierce County by partnering with GTCF to bring their vision to life and build a legacy for future generations.  In our 2018 yearbook, Pierce County Partners, a few of our partners shared their lessons and insights from working to strengthen Pierce County.


Shelby Clayson and Elaine Stafford have been building a stronger Pierce County, literally and figuratively, for decades. Shelby volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, starting out by “pounding nails with a family that was going to get a house. And I knew that people lived in bad situations, but it wasn’t until I went into those homes to interview these families that it really hit me the kinds of bad situations people are living in with children.” When she saw those families have a decent place to live, “it really hit me that what you can give really does help people.”

” it really hit me that what you can give really does help people.” – Shelby Clayson



Elaine and Shelby share a deep value for giving back to the community. It’s something Elaine has been doing since she was a child, “taking a dime tied up in a hanky to church for my offering”. In addition to supporting arts organizations, GTCF’s Fund for Women and Girls, and Type I diabetes research, among many other causes, they’ve been active at Christ Episcopal Church for twenty years, connecting with local people and issues. For Elaine, supporting community starts with listening to people’s stories, “even if it is fragments of a story, you start to build a larger story. It is the people connection that keeps me motivated to be a compassionate person. I have many people tell me their stories and I try to live from what I hear. That’s how we decided some of our legacy planning.” Through their legacy planning, Elaine and Shelby will continue to support the causes and organizations that have mattered to them for a long time.


Elaine has called Tacoma home since 1982. Shelby has lived in the area since 1973, both in Puyallup and Tacoma, and worked at the University of Puget Sound for 25 years. Long-term sustainability is one of the reasons Shelby feels “good about having Greater Tacoma Community Foundation managing the monies that I hope to leave. It is well invested and then carefully managed so that it will be sustainable over a long period of time.”
Elaine is motivated by her connections and relationships to ensure that this community continues to be a place where, when today’s kids are grown up and they have kids, “this will still be a wonderful place, and there will still be fresh air and green trees and bike paths. And women will be paid the same as men.”