2021 Conference Overview and Theme

The Science of Families: Nurturing Hope, Happiness, & Health
Tammy L. Henderson

November 3-5, 2021

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.

As a matter of context, family professionals previously denoted hope, happiness, and health  to include resilience, life satisfaction, quality of life, personal happiness, marital satisfaction, protective factors, joy, agency, social support, family cohesion, and resilience (Corra et al., 2009; Hill, 1999; Lee et al., 1991; Mattis et al., 2016; North et al., 2008). Other related constructs of hope and happiness also include agency (Frasier, 2013; Jones, 2016), self-compassion (Neff, 2011), and gratitude (Sansone & Sansone, 2010).

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.



Corra, M., Carter, S. K., Carter, J. S., & Knox, D. (2009). Trends in marital happiness by gender and race, 1973 to 2006. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 1379-1404. doi:10.1177/0192513X09336214.

Frasier, K. (2013). Agency on the move: Revisioning the route to social change. Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 47, 354–366. doi:10.1007/ s12124-013-9232-4.

Hill, R. (1999). The strengths of Black families: Twenty-five years later. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Jones C. P. (2016). Overcoming Helplessness, Overcoming Fear, Overcoming Inaction in the Face of Need. American journal of Public Health, 106(10), 1717. https://doi. org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303406

Lee, G. R., Seccombe, K., & Shehan, C. L. (1991). Marital status and personal happiness: An analysis of trend data. Journal of Marriage and Family, 53, 839-844. doi: 10.2307/352991.

Mattis, J. S., Simpson, N. G., Powell, W., Anderson, R. E., Kimbro, L. R., & Mattis, J. H. (2016). Positive psychology in African Americans. In E. C. Chang, C. A. Downey, J. K. Hirsch, & N. J. Lin (Eds.), Cultural, racial, and ethnic psychology book series. Positive psychology in racial and ethnic groups: Theory, research, and practice (p. 83–107). American Psychological Association. https://doi. org/10.1037/14799-005

Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. New York: William Morrow.

North, R. J., Holahan, C. J., Moos, R. H., & Cronkite, R. C. (2008). Family support, family income, and happiness: A 10-year perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(3), 475-483.

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: The benefits of appreciation. www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/pdf/PE_7_11_18.pdf.


[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.