2021 Conference Overview and Theme

The Science of Families: Nurturing Hope, Happiness, & Health

Tammy L. Henderson

November 3-6, 2021, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland

CONFERENCE PROGRAM CHAIR: Tammy L. Henderson, Ph.D., CFLE, Professor, Consultant, Lamar University


The intersection of the coronavirus pandemic and endemic, the current social movement to address racism, health, and economic inequities, and the need to address all systems of oppression require a careful examination of solutions that support the hope, happiness, and health of people of color in the U. S. and of all people around the world. For over 80 years, the members of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) have engaged in research, education, and professional practice to nurture healthy family development. The 2021 NCFR conference will provide an opportunity for scholars, practitioners, teachers, advocates, and policymakers to convene, identify, and organize collective action, document trauma-informed storytelling, and promote political involvement to address many social concerns faced by families (Jones, 2016).[1] Participants will gain access to cutting-edge research, evidence-based practices and policies, and instructional innovations. 

The events that have unfolded in recent months, including the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd at the knee of the Minneapolis police for 8 minutes and 47 seconds, have not only galvanized the nation, and the globe, to address the underlying inequities, but brought into sharp visibility the social ills of the world. The conference theme and goals also highlight the need for healing, happiness, health, and hope.[2]

To be specific, the conference theme of The Science of Families: Nurturing Hope, Happiness, & Health, encourages the use of (a) transdisciplinary, (b) strength-based, (c) culturally aware, (d) sociopolitical, (e) historical, (f) economic, and (g) broad contextual lens to explore adaptive behaviors, attitudes, and coping strategies used by families to thrive. Authors are to expand their program methods, research questions, best practices, implications, and conclusions of their current work. Conference presenters are encouraged to provide recommendations for translational science and innovations in policy and practice.  Presenters will bring multiple voices, methods, and solutions to consider the impacts of racism, colorism, sexism, and more, as they promote hope, happiness, and health for families.

Sustainable Conference Goals

Presenters are encouraged to identify innovations, use culturally aware approaches, and to build collaborations (e.g., researchers, practitioners and therapists, educators, advocates, policymakers, and faith-based organizations) that will promote hope, happiness, and health via:

  1. strength-based basic, applied, and translational research;

  2. evidence-based best & clinical practices, programs, policies, laws, and advocacy approaches; and

  3. the scholarship of instruction as a tool to enhance students’ development and learning.  See https://www.ncfr.org/ncfr-2021

Conference Impact and Reach

With members in all 50 states and 35 countries, we expect to see at more than 3000 participants to be engaged in the conference, excluding participants using live streams. We plan to host additional presenters and participants based on the need for healing. We will identify concrete action steps to address racism, support the evidence-based practices to prevent and intervene in the treatment of the coronavirus, and take full advantage of being in the Baltimore area, the congressional district of the late Senator Elijah Cummings.


[1] Jones C. P. (2016). Overcoming Helplessness, Overcoming Fear, Overcoming Inaction in the Face of Need. American journal of public health106(10), 1717. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303406.