2019 NCFR Conference Program Highlights

Presenters at Plenaries and Special Sessions

2019 Plenary Presenters

These sessions will be streamed online. Read more below about each plenary presenter.

More Program Highlights



University of North Texas lettermark logo

Thank you to our 2019 Conference Host — University of North Texas Department of Educational Psychology, Human Development and Family Science Programs — for its generous support of the conference!



Stephanie Coontz

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1-3 p.m.

Stephanie Coontz, M.A.

The Social Context of Sustainability Strategies and "Success Sequences"

Stephanie Coontz, M.A., is the director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, and professor emerita at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She has authored seven books on marriage and family life, including Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, which was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court case decision to grant same-sex couples the right to marriage.

Ms. Coontz is a frequent guest columnist for the New York Times and is widely interviewed about her research by the press.  She has been a member of NCFR for 25 years and a frequent author of Journal of Marriage and Family.

Ms. Coontz will discuss the shift in the last few decades from a deficit model of family diversity to an adaptive one, emphasizing the strengths of alternative family forms and values, and the adaptive coping of individuals who do not or cannot organize their life trajectories along a route that some have called “the success sequence.” But while behaviors that are adaptive in stressful environments may permit people to sustain themselves or even thrive in that context, the same behaviors may hamper their ability to succeed in other environments. Conversely, behaviors that help people prosper in predictable environments may be maladaptive when social conditions change, or may perpetuate social arrangements that disadvantage other groups or even threaten the “successful” people’s own long-term well-being. 

Sponsored by Utah State University Department of Human Development and Family Studies

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Valerie Maholmes

Thursday, Nov. 21, 10:15-11:45 a.m.

Valerie Maholmes, Ph.D., CAS

Supporting and Sustaining Research on Children and Families: Research Priorities and Future Directions

Valerie Maholmes, Ph.D., CAS, is the chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health. In this role, she sets the vision and priorities for research that addresses the continuum of psychosocial, behavioral, biological, and physiological influences that affect child health outcomes in trauma, injury, and acute care. Prior to joining NICHD, she was a faculty member at the Yale School of Medicine in the Child Study Center, where for nearly 13 years she served in numerous capacities, including director of research and policy for the School Development Program. Dr. Maholmes is the author of numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters and edited book volumes.  

Dr. Maholmes’ plenary address will focus on the Institute’s long history of supporting child development and family research and contemporary efforts to advance science promoting child health and well being. She will discuss advances in research on pediatric trauma as well as relevant funding opportunities for researchers at all career stages.

Sponsored by University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

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Cynthia García Coll

Friday, Nov. 22, 10:15-11:45 a.m.

Cynthia García Coll, Ph.D.

Children of Immigrant Backgrounds: Contribution or Burden?

Cynthia García Coll, Ph.D., is a professor of clinical psychology, and the associate director of the Institutional Center for Scientific Research at Carlos Albizu University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and current editor-in-chief of Child Development. She has authored more than a hundred publications, including several books. Dr. García Coll has published extensively on sociocultural influences and the development of children with emphasis on populations under risk conditions and minorities. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and served previously as a professor at Brown University and the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. García Coll is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and a past president of the Society for the Study of Human Development. She has received awards and recognition from the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Tufts University and Brown University.

In her plenary address, Dr. García Coll will use various theoretical frameworks to present studies that will elucidate the necessary conditions for children of immigrant backgrounds to succeed in their receiving communities.

Sponsored by Florida State University

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Rubén Parra-Cardona

Saturday, Nov. 23, 9:15-10:45 a.m.

Rubén Parra-Cardona, Ph.D.

Closing the Gap Between Two Countries: 10 Years of Implementation of a U.S.-Mexico Program of Parenting Prevention Research With Underserved Populations

Rubén Parra-Cardona, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHSSW) at the University of Texas at Austin. At the SHSSW, he serves as the coordinator for initiatives in Mexico and Latin America, as well as co-director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA). His primary research focus is on the cultural adaptation of prevention parenting interventions for underserved low-income immigrant Latino(a) communities. His cultural adaptation studies have been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and most recently, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Dr. Parra-Cardona is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Dr. Parra-Cardona’s plenary address will describe 10 years of research on a collaborative program of parenting prevention research between the U.S. and Mexico. Specifically, parallel programs of research will be described focused on the cultural adaptation of the evidence-based parenting intervention known as GenerationPMTO.

Sponsored by University of Georgia Department of Human Development and Family Science

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Thomas Bradbury

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 10-11:15 a.m.

Thomas N. Bradbury, Ph.D.

Theory as a Prelude to Action, 2019 Theory Construction and Research Methodology (TCRM) Workshop

Thomas N. Bradbury, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor of clinical psychology at UCLA. A professor of psychology at UCLA since 1990, Dr. Bradbury specializes in using interviews and in-home observations to examine how intimate relationships develop and change. The recipient of the American Psychology Association’s Distinguished Early Career Award, Dr. Bradbury has published more than 150 research articles and has edited two books: The Psychology of Marriage and The Developmental Course of Marital Dysfunction. With NCFR member Benjamin R. Karney, Ph.D., Dr. Bradbury has co-authored the textbook Intimate Relationships, and they have twice received NCFR’s Reuben Hill Award for outstanding contributions to Family Science.

In his presentation, part of the 2019 TCRM Workshop, Dr. Bradbury will discuss his experiences developing and testing a conceptual framework that attempts to explain relationship development and deterioration as a function of the enduring vulnerabilities and experiences that partners would bring to any relationship, the stressful events circumstances that can dysregulate partners and their partnership, and the adaptive interpersonal processes by which couples contend with various challenges while striving to remain close and connected. 

Session Sponsored by University of Maryland - Department of Family Science

TCRM Preconference Workshop made possible with the support of NCFR's Journal of Family Theory & Review.

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