During her teaching career, Penfield worked at public schools and at UAB and Birmingham-Southern. She also directed children's theater, and produced educational television programs. She served as an director for Meals on Wheels and Partnership Assistance to the Homeless, and as executive director of Leadership Birmingham. Penfield also served on the board of directors of the National Council of Churches and as vice president of the United Methodist Church's General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. She also volunteered as a docent for the Birmingham Museum of Art.
- "Elise Penfield" obituary (July 2, 2020) The Birmingham News