Kent Mayfield’s career has been in the ministry and higher education in diverse, multicultural settings in the US and abroad. Since 1975,
he has combined churchly and academic appointment with research and consultant roles in the non-profit sector often focused on the design and accreditation of adult professional education. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP), piloting the first advanced degree program for librarians, blending in-person and online learning options for distance students. As a consultant to industry, he created National Building Materials Distributors Foundation and its two component “universities” of distribution management and industry innovation.
Moving to Wisconsin in 1989, Kent served the as the Executive Minister at the First Unitarian Society of Madison where he focused attention on the development of CONNECTIONS, a communitywide effort to counter social isolation and build enduring crosssector relationships. In 2000, he was named chief bioethics officer for Elder Care of Wisconsin, the state’s first integrated care network for older adults. Kent also headed The ARC of Wisconsin, supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; helped to establish Community Connections, a free health clinic in southwest Wisconsin; and consulted with the Wisconsin Medical Association in the implementation of an evidence-based advanced care planning, initiative based on the principles of Respecting Choice. He has served on the boards of the Outreach LBGT Community Center, The New Harvest Foundation and the Rural Musician Forum.
It goes without saying, Kent has had an extraordinary career and for this, he credits Jack Ford, his married partner of more than 40 years. Jack devoted his professional life to designing newspaper ads and catalogs, first for Marshall Field’s for 22 years, then ultimately retiring after 14 years as the Art Director for Lands’ End. Of note among their common interests, Jack and Kent shared a deep infatuation with the Egyptian Arabian horse – breeding and showing and marketing them internationally.
As in most marriages, roles evolve as each individual finds their own areas of strength and comfort. Jack’s steadfast support and attention to the maintenance of their day-to-day life allowed Kent to pursue his passions in public arenas. The arrangement that served them so well continued when they moved to Saint John’s in 2013. Here, Kent has chaired the LifeStreams Committee, creating and maintaining our robust program of intellectual and cultural activities. He is the architect of the Symposia On Aging which annually assembles nationally recognized speakers, artists and researchers to explore new paradigms in healthcare, wellness, spirituality and social justice among older adults. Jack continued his pursuit of mastery of the French language and piano. Together, Jack and Kent are a beautiful study of contrasts and complements.
In 2018, Kent presented his vision of expanding and extending Saint John’s community outreach which led to the Institute On Aging, now reimagined as Community Impact, and focuses on building capacity of organizations in the wider Milwaukee community by supporting the creation of lasting solutions to the negative consequences of poverty, discrimination and chronic health conditions among older adults.
Kent serves on Saint John’s Communities Board of Directors, Milwaukee County’s Board of the Aging and Disabilities Resource Centers, and the Older Adult Advisory Committee of the Milwaukee LGBT Center. In retirement, he served as the pastor of the Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Dubuque and remains an active pulpit presence and celebrant at weddings galore. Kent enjoys acting and singing with Saint John’s Players and Singers and the Plymouth Chorale. And the beginning and end of each of his busy days is spent with Jack.