Allison Mayfield, who recently started her role of executive director for the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, said she can’t remember when her passion for helping animals first sparked.
For all of her life, Mayfield said she has surrounded herself with furry, feathered and scaly friends. She cares for the welfare of creatures, no matter how small or frightening. The executive director said she will go out of her way to carry spiders outside.
“I have a leopard gecko and two dogs,” Mayfield said. “I’ve always had this love for animals.”
Nearly two weeks into her role as top dog of the Humane Society, Mayfield said she has taken each day to speak one-on-one with the nonprofit’s five directors, staff and executive committee members.
Having spent over 15 years in the human services sector of the nonprofit world, Mayfield said she is taking time to learn from those connected with the Humane Society who have dedicated years to rescuing and finding families for homeless animals. Instead of quickly imposing her vision for the organization, the executive director said she intends to listen to her employees and gain a better understanding of how the nonprofit operates.
“I love to visualize and plan for the future, but I think I’d be a poor steward if I came in and started dreaming about things without fully understanding,” she said. “I’m just excited to be here.”
Mayfield, who grew up in Augusta, said she got her first taste of the nonprofits in 2004 when she served as the outreach director of Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
While she worked, Mayfield said she raised three boys on her own. She ended up buying her first house through Habitat for Humanity.
“Habitat for Humanity saved our lives,” she said. “They took me from survival mode to stability.”
Mayfield said she lived with her three boys in the Habitat home for around nine years, which was located in a neighborhood filled with single moms.
While spending time around mothers in similar situations, Mayfield said she was inspired to start Maia Moms, a nonprofit that offers a transitional home for homeless single moms.
She ran the organization from 2012-2017 before taking time to care for her younger brother, who has Parkinson’s disease, and focusing on her own health.
Mayfield said in 2017 she worked as the executive director for the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Aiken, South Carolina, and then served two years later as the chief development officer of the Brigade Boys & Girls Club, an after-school youth development organization in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Now, having joined the Humane Society, Mayfield said she feels as though she has received the “warmest welcome” of her life.
“The staff have been amazing,” she said. “I let them know from day one, that I’m here to learn from them. I’m meeting with every staff person to get a feel for the culture and feel for what’s been working and what hasn’t been working.”
Mayfield said the biggest challenge stepping into her new role involves the heartbreaking aspect of helping animals that “don’t have a voice of their own.”
“The emotional part of it is hard because you do realize that they don’t have a choice (about their situation),” she said. “I don’t want to become numb to that because that’s what’s going to drive my passion to make things better.”
Mayfield welcomes those interested in knowing more about the nonprofit and its mission to reach out to her.
“I know at the Humane Society, we’ve had some confusion about who we are and what we do,” she said. “If anybody ever wants to come in and talk to me, I’m here.”
The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is located at 845 West Ridge Road in Gainesville. For more information, call 770-532-6617.