By Naeisha Rose
Lewis Bartfield, a Queens native, was named the chief division officer for the western division of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin late last month.
“Over the last five years, Lew has made a significant impact in increasing awareness for lung disease, and raising funds to support life-saving research and vital local programs in the Upper Midwest Region,” American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer.
Bartfield grew up in Forest Hills, Sunnyside and Long Island City, and graduated from Jamaica High School in 1970 and Queens College in 1974, where he studied psychology.
Bartfield has been working in the social service and health field since he graduated from college and finds the experience rewarding.
“You get a lot of satisfaction from seeing that you helped people,” he said. “Whether you help them in mental health ways or if you help them in community service ways, or if you help them with their health, you get a great satisfaction from that.”
Before he moved to Wisconsin in 1978 with his wife Evie Bartfield, who went to grad school at the University of Wisconsin, Bartfield worked for the Community Society of New York (1975-1977) and was sponsored by Catholic Charities to be the executive director at the Bayside Senior Center (1977-1978) at 221-15 Horace Harding Expressway.
He later went to Wisconsin and worked for the American Heart Association (1978-1992), and the American Diabetes Association (1992-2013) and helped with fund-raising, program services and volunteer recruitment in up to 18 states.
In 2013, Bartfield was the executive vice president for the Upper Midwest Region of the Lung Association and helped with the fund-raising, mission work, and strategic plan goals of the organization in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Now with the merger of the Lung Association’s regional offices, which operated separately up until last year, Bartfield will have the responsibility of enhancing the presence of the organization in 25 states in the western United States.
“We covered 10 states, and not until last year did we merge into a single corporation,” said Bartfield. “I think it’s a great challenge and a great opportunity to help people affected by lung disease and to keep lung disease from taking place.”
ALA works to help people with lung cancer and prevent its prevalence, COPD, asthma and other forms of lung disease. One of the organization’s campaigns is to raise the age before young people are allowed to smoke.
“We are fighting for Tobacco 21 right now,” said Bartfield. “We want the legal age of starting to smoke to be 21… and we have a half dozen states that are thinking about approving T21 and the momentum is really starting to catch on.”
Some high schoolers turn 18 years old before they finish school and are therefore legally allowed to smoke, and the ALA believes that when that occurs, younger high school students are influenced to light up, too, according to Bartfield.
“People start to smoke in high school when they turn 18 and sadly many before they turn 17 and 16, but if we can make tobacco not available until 21 we can end, that habit from starting in the first place.”
Ultimately, Bartfield wants to help as many people as he can.
“With more than 33 million of people across the country impacted by lung disease, we all need to come together to fight,” he said. “I look forward to working with executive directors, local volunteer leaders and corporate partners to help fight lung disease in communities across the Western U.S.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose