EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of a seven-part series profiling the women chosen as the 2007 Women of Distinction by the Heart of Texas Girl Scout Council.

By Candace Cooksey Fulton — Brownwood Bulletin

The person she is, and the woman she can be, have a single source, believes Nancy Jo Humfeld.

“My daily Christian walk is what guides me,” Humfeld said. “My Christian upbringing is really what made me who I am.”

Humfeld, co-founder and artistic director for the Lyric Performing Arts Company and the head of the department of communication and theater at Howard Payne University, came to Brownwood 21 years ago to accept a faculty position at HPU.

In the more than two decades since her arrival in Brownwood, or at the university, little has happened on stage or in local theater without a little — or a lot — of the Humfeld influence. She served as president of the Brownwood Arts Council for four years, and has been a member for nine.

Humfeld has been involved with and directed numerous community and university theater and musical shows, and was named Educator of the Year in 2004 for the Texas Educational Theatre Association. She serves on the worship committee for Union Presbyterian Church and is a past elder and session member for the church.

“In my Christian upbringing I learned to think about other people first,” Humfeld said. “However I go about my day, I am trying to see and fulfill needs around me.

“All that stems back to my Christian upbringing.”

Humfeld credits her father as being a “huge influence” on her personally and professionally.

“Not only was my father a wonderful parent and mentor, but he was very much of a service leader and I learned from his — and my mother’s — example,” Humfeld said.

Her father, a trombonist, was on the music faculty of what was then East Texas State University.

“I learned from my father that what you do to make your living should not be just a job, but a way of life,” Humfeld said.

From her father’s examples, she said, it became a part of her philosophy to “stay until the job is done; to do my best; and to not be satisfied with something you know in your heart is not your best.”

Today, when she works with students, Humfeld said those lessons overlap.

“One thing I believe — one of my big philosophies — is you are in charge of your own happiness. Most folks choose to be happy, whatever their circumstances. Maintaining a sense of humor and keeping your faith will serve you through the most difficult times.

“I tell my students a positive attitude and a good work ethic will take you farther than almost anything else. Besides, a positive attitude is great for you and great for everybody around you.”