Pepperdine Voice Magazine
Pepperdine's Family Man
When Ken Canfield was recently named executive director of the Boone Center for the Family, he assumed a post he had not sought, nor for which he felt willing to move from his three grandchildren in his native Kansas.
Yet when the directorship was brought to his attention, he and Dee, his wife of 32 years, had no choice but to pray about it, and his purpose came clear: to realize the Boone Center as a world-class institution built to strengthen and support families, not only within the Pepperdine community, but throughout America, and around the world.
Canfield is well equipped for the challenge of elevating the profile of the Boone Center beyond its previous program focus on consulting, counseling, and educating young adults. Prior to assuming his current position, Canfield founded, nurtured, and grew the research institute National Center for Fathering (NCF) over a period of 16 years.
"I had a particular sense that there needed to be something to bring and weave the family together that no one had thought about, so I asked God, 'What can I do that will help families be healthy, strong, and vibrant?'"
Canfield's prayer and searching led him to focus on fathering, and while pursuing his Ph.D. at Kansas State University he started NCF, developing a comprehensive body of scientific literature, classes, and best practices in fathering. The timing for NCF could not have been better. American public policy had become sensitized to the ill effects of poor or absent fathering and policy makers at all levels had begun seeking counsel. Canfield's collected expertise propelled him into "go-to guy" status for all father-related commentary and research. Responding to the hunger for information on fathering, he wrote extensively, produced a nationally syndicated radio program, and started the Web site www.fathers.com.
Similarly, Canfield's vision for the Boone Center is to raise its national exposure by expanding the board to include key leaders across the nation who will commit time and prestige. The Boone Center will also define national benchmark indices for family health and development that will be rolled out annually in a "state-of-family" report.
Regionally he seeks to increase both the quality and quantity of good fathering in the Southland, kicking off the L.A. Fathering Initiative this fall, alongside a "Father of the Year" essay contest promoted through the school systems. He also plans to continue a robust program of "Marriage Intensive" seminars, consultations to family-owned businesses, and training for Seaver students on how to raise good families. And academically, Canfield is developing graduate-study certificate and master's degree programs to equip professionals who find themselves in need of added depth in dealing with the complex issues of families.
A father of five, Ken has had plenty of opportunity to put his observations about fathering and family into practice. "Fathering," he says, "is an adventure in humility because you can do everything that you could possibly think of to be the best dad, but it still rests on the understanding or absorbing that your son or daughter might have. There are no formulas, and the secret is that we don't know. But we do know that God loves humble people."