A Tribute to Four Decades of Service
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Am Fam Physician. 2005 May 15;71(10):1852.
When I recently wrote about the complexities of getting AFP to you, I had no idea that one of the key people in that process soon would be announcing her retirement. Kathy Mayfield, production director, is retiring after nearly 41 years of service to AAFP in the publications division’s production department.
When I asked Kathy why she has stayed with AAFP for so long, she said, “Part of it is the job; putting AFP together is such a challenge that you don’t even realize that the days, months, and years are going by. One day you just discover that 10 years, even 20, 30, or 40 have flown by!”
When Kathy was hired in June 1964, the Academy was known as the American Academy of General Practitioners, and AFP was known as General Practitioner (or GP). There were 100 employees, and membership was approximately 28,000. GP was published 12 times a year.
It’s all about people
Kathy remembers the atmosphere among staff members feeling like one big family 40 years ago. Everyone knew everyone, she says. “We played hard, and we worked hard. It was fun. The whole organization worked hard, and it was all for the members.” Now, Kathy says, there are so many employees that it’s hard to get to know everyone, but everyone still works hard for the members. To her, the work has always been about the people. When asked if there was one thing she would miss, she said, “The people—the people make the organization. There have been some really great people here, and there still are today.”
Things have changed
The Academy has changed significantly in the past 40 years. Today there are 94,000 members and more than 370 staff members. Kathy has gone from working on 12 issues per year to managing the annual production of 24 issues of AFP, 10 issues of Family Practice Management, six issues of Annals of Family Medicine and its supplements, and the newest publication, Caring for Hispanic Patients.
Advances in technology have allowed the AAFP staff to increase the services and products offered to members and others over the years. Kathy has seen many changes, including moving from keeping paper records of everything to having all records, and many production processes, computerized. When I mentioned to Kathy that she appears to accept change and not resist it as some people do, she laughingly said, “Oh, I’ve always resisted it … I roll with it, but I do resist it. I’ve got a lot of old-fashioned stuff in me.”
The professional reflects the personal
Kathy’s work at the Academy reflects her personality, according to those who know her well, because the production of these publications is part technical and part artistic. Kathy brings her artist’s eye to everything she does, and the end result is that everything she touches is better for it. She is known for her artistic flair in her personal life as well. She has remodeled a large, older home, creating what at least one person has described as a mansion. Kathy is well known for restoring antiques; in fact, one staff member stated that she is an expert at turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse, whether it’s in AFP or in her own home.
Kathy brings her “can do” attitude to everything she does. She has walked in several half marathons and recently placed first in her age division. I doubt that Kathy’s retirement will be “leisurely” in any way. She is a strong, active woman who will undoubtedly continue to bring joy and beauty to everything she does and everyone she meets.
Message to readers
When asked if she had one final message to AFP readers, Kathy’s immediate response was, “Keep reading AFP—it’s the best there is.”
editor’s note: Thank you to all of Kathy’s friends and colleagues who contributed information for this column.
Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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